You take your child to the dentist regularly, and you have done everything you can to keep their teeth clean, gums healthy, and the cavities away.
At your most recent visit to the dentist, you may have heard a suggestion that you never anticipated hearing before: your child needs braces.
Whether your child is excited about the prospect or not, you find yourself asking if braces are necessary, if your child is too young, and if the dentist is jumping the gun.
To help you make better, more informed decisions, you must first understand the indicators for braces, the benefits of starting early, and the dangers of putting them off.
One of the first questions parents ask is what is the right age for braces. Some children receive braces at age 8, while others wait until their early teens to get braces. However, Dr. Foote believes that it is never too early to screen children for Early Childhood Malocclusions and the need for orthodontics.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, an orthodontic evaluation is recommended at age 7. Phase I, or early interceptive, orthodontic treatment is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10 to address significant space problems. However, there is often great benefit to intervening even earlier than age 7. The ability to positively influence facial growth and also relieve breathing and airway related issues in younger children is significant. Of course we will assess whether the adult teeth will have enough space to erupt, and if the upper and lower jaws are positioned properly. This treatment typically involves expansion of the upper jaw to relieve crowding which prevents eruption issues from becoming more severe.
When your child has all of their permanent adult teeth, typically between the ages of 10 to 14, this is considered Phase II, when they begin full braces or invisalign to straighten the adult teeth. Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Prudent intervention guides growth and development, preventing significant problems later.
As a parent, you may notice some of these issues in your own child:
Sure, the cost of braces for kids might make you rethink whether braces are the right thing to do. However, there are benefits to braces for kids, and these benefits often last for the rest of your child’s life. The American Association of Orthodontists states that early treatment can prevent more serious issues from affecting your child later – serving as another reason why moving forward now is best.
There is an upside to starting braces early, including:
1. Braces May Prevent Periodontal Disease
While improper hygiene during the use of braces can cause gum disease, with proper hygiene, braces can also prevent further issues of periodontal disease.
Braces space teeth correctly so that flossing and brushing do their job correctly, and it prevents food from becoming lodged inside nooks of the tooth and gum tissue, which lead to disease.
2. Braces Reduce Issues of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay happens when you cannot clean your teeth properly, and when you do not clean, bacteria accumulates inside the crevices which allow for acid build-up.
Braces align teeth and thus allow for easier/better cleaning, which helps protect teeth and keep them healthier.
3. Braces Improve Self-Esteem
When your child smiles, are they self-conscious about crooked or misaligned teeth? While wearing braces might be seen as a negative thing, it is temporary. In the end, your child will have better self-esteem when they are no longer worried about their smile.
4. Braces Improve Speech
Misaligned teeth can impact how a child reads aloud and even sounds out words. According to “Speech Defect and Orthodontics: A Contemporary Review,” teeth play a vital role in articulating consonants and the airflow modification required to do so. Orthodontics change tooth positions so that speech is improved. While not guaranteed, a child with speech issues due to malformations of their teeth may do better once they have their teeth realigned.
Your orthodontist can tell you which braces work best for your child’s specific malformation, but some common types to choose from include:
Paying for braces can be overwhelming, but when you work with a qualified provider, the process becomes easier. Foote Orthodontics offers early intervention or Phase I treatment for children ages 5 to 10 to prevent overcrowding and keep braces costs lower in the end. Furthermore, we offer payment plans for braces not covered by insurance to make it easier to cover the cost of your child’s braces.
Learn more about our early intervention program for children or contact our office today to schedule a consultation for your child’s braces.