What To Know About Kids and Braces
If you had braces as a kid, you may already know a little bit about how things work with kids and braces. However, even as a kid who had braces you may still have a lot of questions. Such as, how old (or young) should a kid be to get braces?
If you never had braces before, this may be only one of the many questions you have. We are here to help! One of the things we love here at Reagin Orthodontics is helping families understand the importance of orthodontic care for children and adults.
Therefore, we have outlined some of the basics surrounding kids and braces to help you get familiar with this topic. In addition to this overview, Dr. Reagin and our team are available to answer additional questions.
What are Braces?
Since more than 4 million people wear braces in the United States, you probably know someone who has or has had them. Maybe that person is you!
Therefore, when asked what braces are, most of us know that they are used to help straighten teeth. How do braces do that though? Moreover, why is it important?
Traditional metal braces are a combination of metal brackets, wire, and o-ties (these come in different colors and look like a small rubber band that holds the wire to the braces). The brackets are adhered to each tooth. Then the wire and o-ties are used to create tension within the bone (alveolar bone) that houses the teeth. This tension allows alveolar bone to change and slowly move teeth into proper alignment over time.
While metal braces are the type of braces most people are familiar with, there are a few other types that are also available. Some kids prefer to get clear brackets instead of metal brackets.
These are adhered to the teeth and follow the same process as metal braces with wire and o-ties. Rather than metal brackets though, they are a clear ceramic material – so some find them less obvious. In addition, there are ceramic braces and even braces that can be adhered behind the teeth – called lingual braces.
Beyond the traditional form of braces that are adhered to the teeth, clear aligners like Invisalign have become popular for kids as well as adults. Clear aligners produce similar results as metal braces; however, the method is slightly different.
“Invisalign braces” are made from clear plastic trays. The plastic trays are removable so that they can be removed for eating and brushing. Still it is important to make sure you get 20 hours of wear per day for the alveolar bone to allow the teeth to move into place. When they are being worn, they are not obvious in the same way metal braces are.
Since it doesn’t look like you’re wearing braces, clear aligners have become quite popular with adults.
Why Do Kids Need Braces?
While circumstances may not allow everyone to get treatment as a kid, orthodontists recommend not waiting to get orthodontic treatment until you are an adult if possible. One reason is that adults are less likely to get treatment when it is needed. This may be due to not wanting to wear braces (even clear aligners), or simply because of the time commitment.
More importantly, the longer orthodontic care goes untreated the worse it can get. Misaligned teeth and jaws that are untreated can lead to several oral health concerns. This may include gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and even trouble with digestion. Therefore, as a parent it is beneficial to your child to explore the need for kids braces at a young age.
While the most common association people make with braces is to fix crooked teeth, it goes beyond aesthetics. Properly aligned teeth are also important for good oral health.
In kids, properly straight teeth help them to bite and chew properly. It also helps them in speaking clearly. Moreover, addressing misaligned teeth at a young age helps eliminate possible problems as an adult.
When kids who have a need for orthodontic care do not address it at a young age, it can lead to discomfort as a teen or adult. Discomfort may result from overcrowding, when the teeth are too close together.
Another issue may be a misaligned jaw. When a misaligned jaw is untreated the teeth can wear out more quickly due to the upper teeth and lower teeth not matching up to properly bite and chew.
Even though oral hygiene is a primary reason for kids braces, we recognize that the visual appeal of straight teeth is also important as it helps with confidence. Teeth are one of the first things people notice about another person. Therefore, having crooked or gap teeth can cause insecurities in many people – especially as kids grow-up.
Therefore, even though some children may initially feel insecure about wearing braces, the treatment at a young age is worth it. Kids tend to adjust quickly and do quite well with all aspects of wearing braces. Plus, after they complete their treatment they get to enjoy the confidence of a perfect smile as a teen and adult.
Do All Kids Need Braces?
Many kids will not need braces. However, we suggest that every child visits an orthodontist for an initial check-up.
The American Association of Orthodontics suggests that kids get their first check-up by age 7. The reason the American Association recommends coming by age 7 is because this is when most kids have lost all of their baby teeth and have the majority of their permanent teeth.
This varies from child to child though. Therefore, Dr. Reagin encourages parents to schedule their kid’s first visit to the orthodontist between the ages of 7-9. However, sometimes early orthodontic needs may be visible while a kid still has their baby teeth. If you notice concerns at any time, bring your child in for an orthodontic consultation as soon as possible.
- A child’s baby teeth are crowded
- Thumb sucking beyond the age of 4 years old (or using a pacifier)
- Protruding teeth
- If a child loses their baby teeth early
- Kids who grind their teeth
- Children who have trouble biting or chewing
- When a child has trouble breathing (or is mostly a mouth breather)
- You notice your child’s jaw clicking or making sounds
What Is Included in an Orthodontic Consultation for Kids?
Cost is a concern for many families when it comes to orthodontic treatment. This may be one reason that you initially may avoid making an appointment.
Most orthodontist offices offer complimentary initial consultations. Therefore, if you think there may be a need for your child to get kids braces, we recommend taking advantage of that first consultation.
During an initial consultation you can expect to have x-rays and pictures taken to help the orthodontist get a better idea of what kind of orthodontic treatment your child may need. Once the orthodontist knows what your child’s needs are, they will explain to you what type of treatment would be best.
At Reagin Orthodontics, we love to make this a family event! We encourage the whole family to support the person who is receiving the consultation. This is especially great if you have older children who have already received braces. They can provide support for their younger sibling(s).
In addition, if this is your first child who is receiving orthodontic treatment it can be a great time for younger siblings to see what the process looks like. Then when it’s their turn for a consultation they also know what to expect.
Each orthodontist will have a different protocol for what follows the initial consultation. Here at Reagin Orthodontics, if it’s determined your child needs braces, you have the choice to start right away! This means that your kid can get their braces completed even sooner.
How Much Do Braces Cost?
The cost of braces will vary depending on individual treatment plans. We suggest using our financing and payment calculator to get an approximate idea of what down payment and monthly payments could look like for your family. We offer 0% in house financing to help make braces more affordable.
In addition, we also offer discounts for families who have multiple children receiving treatment. Discounts are also available for military families, first responders, and teachers.
How Long Do Kids Have to Wear Braces For?
The first appointment for getting braces put on takes about 60-90 minutes. Once the initial braces are adhered to the teeth, kids will wear them for an average of 18 months. This can vary depending on each individual child’s malocclusion. Some kids will need to wear braces a bit longer, while others may only need to wear braces for 15 months.
During treatment, kids will need to visit the orthodontist about every 8 weeks. These check-ups are about 20-30 minutes long (much shorter than the initial consultation or when the braces are applied). Just enough time for the orthodontist to make needed adjustments to the wires, evaluate the treatment plan and make any needed changes, and change out the o-ties.
Once again, each individual child’s treatment plan will vary. Therefore, you may not need to visit as frequently. Your orthodontist will discuss this with you at the time of the consultation.
How Will Braces Impact a Kid’s Life?
Getting braces can be a big adjustment for many kids. This adjustment period is often short though, as most children adapt quickly to their braces.
Check out some of our other blog posts to learn more about how to help your child adapt to their new way of life.