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Kids Braces – All Your Questions Answered

Kids braces are an extremely common treatment option for children. They help correct irregularities in their developing teeth and jaws and improve the function and appearance of their smiles well into the future. However, as parents, many of us remember the stigma of children’s braces from years gone by. This can leave us unsure about braces for kids and confused as to when and how they will help our children. 

The truth is, kids braces have come along way in recent years, they are much more aesthetically pleasing, much more comfortable and the only way to help our children align their teeth so they can eat comfortably and properly care for their teeth as they grow. Read on for everything you need to know about braces for kids.

Why Should Children Visit an Orthodontist?
Making sure your children regularly visit an orthodontist is the only way for you to know if there are any developmental issues with their teeth and jaw. The sooner problems are spotted, the sooner treatment can be planned. By going to an orthodontist, your child is likely to receive preventative rather than corrective treatment, and it will be all the more successful for it. 

What Are the Signs That My Child Needs Braces?
While the only way to know whether kids braces are needed is for your child to visit an orthodontist, there are a few signs you can look at for. For example, if baby teeth fall out earlier or later than average, your child regularly sucks their thumb or has any speech defects, there could be an issue with their developing jaw and teeth. 

What’s the Best Age to Get Braces?
There isn’t an ideal age to get braces as it depends upon individual circumstances. However, it’s around the age of seven that developmental problems can start occurring. This is when children need to start visiting an orthodontist, and if a problem arises, preventative measures such as sectional braces and space maintainers can be used. If kids braces are required, then they are usually not fitted until around 11 when all the adult teeth have emerged. 

How do Kids Braces Work?
Children’s braces work by exerting constant pressure on teeth over an extended period of time. Conventional braces for kids are made of two main parts, brackets and wires. A series of brackets are fixed to the teeth’s surface, and a wire is then attached to the brackets through slots and held together with rubber bands. As the wire is tightened the teeth slowly move. 

What Types of Braces Are There?
These days there are lots of different options when it comes to children’s braces. Brackets can be made out of metal or tooth-coloured ceramic, both are connected with wires and bands which can be multi-coloured. Lingual braces are a similar option but with the brackets fitted to the inside of the teeth. Alternatively clear braces can be used, a series of clear plastic trays or aligners instead of the fixed brackets. 

How Are Children’s Braces Fitted?
Whatever type of braces your child needs, the first step is a consultation and a full evaluation so an individual treatment plan can be created. If your child is having metal braces, the orthodontist will apply bonding glue to their teeth to attach the brackets; wire will then be connected and secured to the brackets using elastic bands. The process takes around two hours, although ongoing appointments will be required for adjustments to be made. 

How Do You Care for Your Teeth While Wearing Braces?
It’s vital that your child continues with an excellent oral hygiene routine while wearing braces. The area around the braces and along the gum line needs to be kept clean to avoid a buildup of plaque. Special orthodontic toothbrushes, floss and picks can help to reach difficult spots. And, of course, regular trips to the dentist will ensure that your child is doing a good job. 

What Happens if My Child’s Braces Break?
Your child needs to take care of their braces by avoiding eating very crunchy or sticky foods. If your child plays sports, they can wear a mouthguard, although check with your orthodontist that it is suitable and doesn’t affect the functionality of the braces. However, accidents do happen and, if braces break, they can be repaired. Just bear in mind that mishaps can result in an elongated treatment time. 

Do Children’s Braces Hurt?
It’s normal for there to be some discomfort initially when conventional kids braces are fitted. They can rub on lips and cheeks and make the mouth sore. However, while they feel tight when they are fitted and adjusted, this should ease off after a week or so. The tightness is a sign that the braces are working and the teeth are moving. To help, your child should eat a soft diet, take over-the-counter pain medication where necessary and use orthodontic wax to ease any areas of irritation. 

Should My Child Visit the Dentist as Well as the Orthodontist?
Your orthodontist is there to make sure that your child’s braces are working and their teeth are moving according to their treatment plan. However, it’s your general dentist that will make sure that their teeth stay clean and healthy. Even when your child has braces, they still need to have regular appointments with their general dentist. 

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