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Kids Braces – Everything You Should Know About It

A kid with braces smiling
A kid with braces smiling

Navigating the world of children’s dental care can be confusing, especially if you’ve never had braces before. We’ll help you understand everything you need to know, from the different kinds of braces, cost of treatment, and how to help your child take good care of their braces.

How to Know if Your Kid Needs Braces

A dentist or orthodontist is the best person to determine if your child needs braces. Regular dental check-ups help, but signs you should be watching for include crowded or overlapping of baby teeth or permanent teeth, difficulty in chewing, or even jaw shifting. Often, kids between ages 7 and 14 are ideal candidates as their jaw and facial bones are still developing.

Benefits of Braces

Braces aren’t just about the cosmetic appeal of a straight smile. They address a variety of dental issues like crooked teeth and issues with jaw growth. Here are some common problems orthodontic treatment can correct:

  • Overcrowding: Overcrowding occurs when there is insufficient space within the jaw to accommodate a full set of teeth. This condition not only compromises the aesthetic appeal of the dental arrangement but also makes effective oral hygiene increasingly challenging. Braces offer a structural solution by aligning the teeth in their appropriate positions.

  • Gaps: Spacing issues between teeth are not merely a cosmetic concern. Gaps can also lead to functional complications such as speech problems and increased vulnerability to periodontal disease. Braces are effective in closing these gaps, thus restoring both function and appearance.

  • Overbite: An overbite condition is characterized by the upper teeth extending significantly beyond the lower teeth when the jaws are closed. This misalignment can contribute to a range of issues, from chewing difficulties to accelerated wear and tear on the lower teeth. Braces can correct this by aligning the upper and lower teeth in a more proportionate manner.

  • Underbite: An underbite is essentially the antithesis of an overbite, where the lower teeth protrude beyond the upper teeth. This misalignment can lead to an uneven distribution of bite force, thereby increasing the risk of dental erosion and other complications. Braces are effective in correcting this condition by realigning the jaws and teeth.

  • Crossbite: In a crossbite, some of the upper teeth may sit inside the lower teeth, leading to asymmetric jaw development and inefficient chewing patterns. This misalignment can cause a host of problems ranging from jaw pain to enamel wear. Braces offer an effective solution for realigning the teeth and remedying the crossbite.

What is the Best Type of Braces for Kids?

There are several different types of braces, and while each type of braces offers unique advantages and limitations, the decision should be based on a holistic assessment of your child’s needs and their oral health. 

You’ll need to consider the complexity of the orthodontic issue, the child’s age, their ability to maintain the braces, as well as your budget. A consultation with an orthodontist will provide the most personalized and effective treatment plan for your child’s specific needs.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional braces were long considered the gold standard in orthodontic care. They have been tried and tested over the years, yielding consistent and reliable outcomes. They’re made from metal brackets and metal wires with rubber bands and are exceptionally durable and capable of correcting even the most complicated dental issues, ranging from overcrowded teeth to complex bite problems.

Advantages:

  • Highly effective in treating a wide array of orthodontic issues
  • Can correct severe alignment issues
  • Generally more affordable compared to other types
  • Low-maintenance, ideal for younger children

Limitations:

  • The most visible type of braces
  • Potential discomfort from wires and brackets

Due to their resilience and effectiveness, they are often the recommended braces for children who may not yet have developed the habits needed for the rigorous care that other types of braces demand.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are a less noticeable alternative to traditional metal braces while maintaining a comparable level of effectiveness in moving teeth into the correct position. The brackets are crafted from a translucent ceramic material that closely matches the natural color of the teeth and the rubber bands are clear, reducing their visual impact.

Advantages:

  • Aesthetically more appealing than metal braces
  • Highly effective for a broad range of orthodontic issues like crowded teeth and a bad bite

Limitations:

  • Higher cost compared to metal braces
  • Ceramic brackets are prone to staining if not carefully maintained

While ceramic braces offer an aesthetic advantage, they do require a heightened level of care to prevent staining and are generally more expensive, making them better suited for older children or adolescents capable of maintaining them.

Invisalign Clear Aligners

When comparing which one is better Invisalign or braces, it’s worth noting that Invisalign and other clear aligner systems offer an almost invisible method for straightening misaligned teeth. Custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth, these removable aligners are typically made from a clear, flexible plastic material.

Advantages:

Limitations:

  • Less effective for severe orthodontic issues
  • Requires disciplined usage for effectiveness

These aligners must be worn at least 22 hours a day, so they are often recommended for older children and teenagers who have good oral habits, are disciplined enough to wear them regularly, and won’t lose them.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are unique in that they are affixed to the inner surfaces of the teeth, making them virtually invisible from the outside. This feature offers an aesthetic advantage but comes with its own set of challenges.

Advantages:

  • Completely hidden from view
  • Effective for treating moderate orthodontic issues

Limitations:

  • Longer adaptation period for speech and chewing
  • Not suitable for severe orthodontic problems
  • Typically higher in cost

Lingual braces are often considered for adolescents or young adults who prioritize aesthetics but they are generally not recommended for more complex orthodontic cases due to their limitations in capability.

Dos and Donts for Braces

Getting braces is a big step, and there are ways to make the journey smoother:

  • Do maintain oral hygiene.
  • Don’t eat sticky or hard foods that could damage the braces.
  • Do follow your orthodontist’s advice on adjustments.
  • Don’t skip regular check-ups.

Do You Have More Questions About Braces? Contact Us Today!

If you’re considering braces for your child, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll help you determine the best type of braces for your child, as well as assist you in navigating the ins and outs of using your dental insurance plan to help cover the cost of braces. We look forward to providing your child with a beautiful smile!

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About Dr. Amanda Backstrom

Dr. Backstrom was born and raised in Georgia and graduated magna cum laude with a BS degree in Biology from the University of Georgia in 2002. She earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine from Tufts University in Boston in 2007.

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