It’s perfectly normal for children to have an overbite, an underbite or other orthodontic problems. But these orthodontic problems can lead to other problems, such as difficulty chewing or biting. At Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA, we specialize in braces for kids.
19 FAQs About Braces for Kids
1. When Is the Right Age to Get Braces for Kids?
The right age to get braces for kids varies from client to client. In most cases, orthodontic treatment begins between the ages of 9 and 14. This is because children in this age range are still growing but have some permanent teeth in their mouth. In some cases, it can be hard to tell the extent and exact nature of an orthodontic problem until your child’s 12-year molars have grown in. However, technology is making such extrapolations more accurate.
Most orthodontic problems, such as jaw growth problems, extra or missing teeth, excessive space between teeth, protruding upper teeth or crowding are inherited. Other orthodontic problems are caused by lifestyle choices, such as sucking on thumbs or fingers, breathing through the mouth, poor nutrition, inadequate oral hygiene. When caused by a lifestyle choice, orthodontic problems may take a little longer to diagnose.
2. Does My Child Need Braces?
Hopefully, if your child is older, she has been visiting an orthodontist since at least the age of 7. If she has not, book her an appointment today. Your child’s dentist is a good resource for healthy oral hygiene habits. However, children benefit the most from visiting an orthodontist when suffering from a potentially orthodontic problem. An orthodontist can tell you definitively if now is the right time for braces for kids. Here are some signs your child may need braces:
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Biting the roof of the mouth
- Biting the cheek
- Teeth that don’t meet
- Teeth that meet abnormally
- Jaws and teeth that are disproportionate to the rest of the face
- Blocked-out, crowded or misplaced teeth
- Recessed jaws or jaws that shift, protrude or make sounds
- Early, irregular or late loss of baby teeth
3. When Should My Child First See an Orthodontist?
There is no set age when a child should first see an orthodontist. For example, the general rule of thumb is to schedule your child’s first orthodontist appointment when her permanent teeth first start to grow in. However, some children start growing permanent molars at six years old. Others don’t see permanent molars coming in until seven years old.
Moreover, if you notice an orthodontic problem before your child’s permanent teeth have started growing in, you can throw the standard practice out of the window. There is no harm in scheduling an orthodontic appointment for your child “early” if you see signs of concern.
4. What Can I Expect During My Child’s First Orthodontist Visit?
During your child’s first orthodontist visit, Dr. Allen G. Davis, DDS, MS will thoroughly examine your child’s jaw, mouth and teeth. He may ask her to bite her teeth together. He may also ask her if she ever has difficulty chewing or swallowing. He may ask you if her jaw ever clicks or pops out. Depending on the results of the initial assessment, Dr. Allen Davis may take X-rays of your child’s mouth and teeth to show the position of the teeth.
An X-ray also paints a clear picture of how many permanent teeth still need to come in. Finally, he may make an impression, or mold, of your child’s upper and lower teeth. Once the malleable material is removed, it will harden after roughly an hour. The resulting mold provides a replica of your child’s teeth. This makes determining the best treatment options easier.
5. What Type of Braces Will My Child Need?
To determine definitively what type of braces your child will need, the position of her teeth will need to be evaluated. Many children benefit from mini-metal braces. These braces are similar to traditional braces in that they encourage teeth movement by metal archwires that are attached to the front of the teeth. However, these braces are 50% smaller than traditional braces.
6. What Are the Benefits of Mini-Braces?
There are several benefits of mini-braces over traditional braces. They are less noticeable than traditional braces, which can make children less self-conscious as the alignment of their teeth is corrected. Moreover, children have the opportunity to choose the color of their elastics. If your child is excited by several of our color choices, we recommend letting her pick a different color each month. This way, she has something to look forward to when she comes in for her evaluation and adjustment.
The smaller size of the hardware makes mini-braces far more comfortable than traditional braces. Finally, they are fairly easy to keep clean and made of the same durable stainless steel as traditional braces.
7. Could My Child Benefit From Invisalign?
Unfortunately, Invisalign is not right for children. It may, however, be right for your teen. If you have an adolescent child with misaligned teeth, feel free to bring him in for a consultation with Dr. Allen Davis. If your pre-teen child needs orthodontic treatment, braces are the only option.
However, we do offer ceramic braces for children which are nearly invisible because they are made out of clear materials. Ceramic braces are a little bigger than stainless steel braces. However, like mini-braces, they are not painful. We usually recommend ceramic braces for children who need braces on their upper front teeth and who are particularly self-conscious about their appearance.
8. How Long Will My Child Need to Wear Braces?
How long your child will need to wear braces depends on the problems Dr. Allen Davis is trying to fix. Some children only need to wear braces for 18 months. Without evaluating your child’s condition, the most accurate information we can give you is she will probably need to wear braces for two years.
However, once your child’s teeth are properly aligned, she may need to wear a retainer. Retainers used to be small, hard pieces of plastic with metal wires. However, today, retainers are molded to your child’s upper and lower teeth out of a thin piece of plastic that looks very similar to a mouthguard. These retainers are designed to keep your child’s teeth from wandering back to their original, problematic position.
9. How Long Will My Child Need to Wear a Retainer?
Once your child’s treatment is complete, Dr. Allen Davis will tell her how long she will need to wear her retainer. Depending on the age and condition of your child, she may have to wear her retainer all day and night for two years except when consuming something other than water.
Children who are at lower risk of their teeth shifting back out of alignment may only need to wear a retainer every night for six nights. Others still may need to wear one every other night for several years.
10. How Can I Help My Child Care for Her Braces?
Be extremely diligent in ensuring your child brushes her teeth thoroughly after every meal and snack. It is incredibly easy for food to become stuck in wired braces. Moreover, make sure your child flosses at least once daily.
While flossing with braces is tricky, Plackers sells a device known as the Orthopick which can be picked up at your local Walmart. This device makes flossing a lot easier and possibly more effective. The most important thing you can do to protect your child’s overall oral health is to schedule her regular for dental cleaning and checkups to ensure she has not developed any cavities.
11. What Foods Should My Child Avoid?
While stainless steel braces are durable, they can still be damaged if your child eats certain foods. These include gum that is not sugar-free, hard, sticky candy and popcorn. It is also important for your child to limit juice consumption and never drink soda through a straw. The sugar found in juice and soda can lead to tooth decay, especially if the teeth aren’t brushed immediately after consumption.
12. Do Braces Hurt?
While braces are not painful, your child may feel pressure on her teeth after adjustments are made. In general, you can expect your child to need adjustments every three weeks to ensure her teeth are moving as expected. If your child feels tooth pressure, feed her soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, and give her Tylenol.
13. What Happens If a Wire or Bracket Comes Loose?
If you discover your child has a loose wire or bracket, call Davis Orthodontics right away to schedule an appointment. You should also call us if a wire is poking your child’s mouth. If a wire is rubbing against the inside of your child’s gum, Dr. Allen Davis can give your child some soft wax to place on the irritating wire to protect her gum.
14. Can My Child Play Sports With Braces?
Whether your child plays a contact sport or a non-contact sport, he or she does not have to give up sports to get braces. However, there are some precautions you must take to ensure your child’s safety and comfort. For example, always know the location of the nearest emergency room in case your child has a dental emergency.
Moreover, you should have our number so you can call us if the braces become damaged. Finally, keep a fully stocked first aid kit with your child’s sports equipment in case an accident happens. This should include Neosporin, Tylenol, gauze, tape and Band-Aids.
15. What Precautionary Steps Can My Child Take?
For your child to protect herself, she must always keep her head in the game. It doesn’t matter if she’s playing goalie or defense and the ball is on the other side of the field. It doesn’t matter if she is sitting on the bench. She must always be aware of her surroundings because a ball could fly at her face at any time.
She should also wear all the necessary safety equipment for the sport she is participating in. For example, if your child is participating in soccer, she should wear an orthodontic mouthguard to protect her braces and teeth.
16. Can’t I Just Buy My Child a Mouthguard at the Local Sporting Goods Store?
Unfortunately, children with braces should not wear mouthguards purchased from a local sporting goods store. First, this type of mouthguard is harder and more inflexible than an orthodontic mouthguard. In other words, there is a higher chance that the mouthguard will damage the wires and brackets should something impact your child’s mouth.
Mouthguards purchased at a store are not molded by an orthodontist to fit your child’s unique mouth and jaw structure. Furthermore, store-bought mouthguards are smaller than orthodontic mouthguards so they will be uncomfortable and possibly painful for someone with braces.
17. How Should My Child Brush Her Teeth With Braces?
There are four steps that children must take when brushing their teeth with braces. First, they must place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Second, the teeth should be brushed in a small circular motion. Third, the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of each tooth must be brushed thoroughly. Finally, the tip of the toothbrush should be used to brush the inside of each of the front teeth.
18. How Should My Child Floss Her Teeth?
Similar to brushing the teeth, there are four steps children must take when flossing their teeth with braces. First, a piece of floss just over a foot long should be cut off. One end of the floss should be threaded beneath the braces’ wire. A floss threader can make this significantly easier.
Second, your child should carefully floss around each of the braces to remove any trapped food not removed by brushing the teeth. Third, your child should floss carefully under each gum area. Finally, your child should floss around each tooth carefully.
19. How Much Do Braces Cost?
There are several factors affecting how much your child’s braces will cost over the course of treatment. For example, if your child needs more frequent appointments to adjust the braces, the overall treatment will cost more. Moreover, the type of braces necessary will influence the cost. Talk to your child’s dental insurance provider to give you an idea of how much they will cover, what co-pays you may need to pay and what your deductible will be.
If your dental insurance provider will not cover the entire cost of your child’s braces, we offer several financing options. For instance, we offer in-office financing so you can pay for your child’s braces in installments. Moreover, we have proudly partnered with CareCredit. CareCredit allows you to make small monthly payments with reasonable repayment terms and affordably low-interest rates
Learn More About Braces for Children Today
If you think the time is right for your kids to get braces, there’s a decent chance that it is. To learn more about braces for kids, contact us at Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA today to schedule your child’s initial consultation.
Dr. Davis is a proud member of the American Board of Orthodontics, the Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists, the California Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Association of California and the San Diego County Dental Society.