What is Orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics relates to a whole range of appliances worn for the purpose of straightening teeth. This can be done a removable plate, fixed braces or aligners (such as Invisalign)
Removable plates are generally used to reposition and expand the top jaw in younger children that have teeth crowding to fix more minor teeth crowding issues.
Traditional fixed braces are where brackets are attached to teeth and wires are placed to move teeth into the proper position so that you end up with a lovely straight smile. The brackets and either be metal, white or clear. Generally metal brackets are smaller and more durable while more invisible white and clear brackets are less noticeable and more aesthetic to wear but both do the same job.
Aligners, such as Invisalign are a set of plastic custom made trays that will gradually straighten your teeth over time. These are almost invisible and a great way to straighten teeth without traditional braces stuck to your teeth.
How do I know if my child needs orthodontic braces?
There are 2 main reasons that children need orthodontic braces, functional and cosmetic.
Functionally, in cases where the teeth have pushed the jaws into an abnormal position, this will not correct itself without orthodontic treatment. The common issues you may notice are children that have a significant overbite, underbite, small chin or they bite to one side instead of the middle.
The second main reason is fixing the teeth alignment in children where the teeth and crooked or crowded
When should I start orthodontic treatment?
If the only concern is cosmetic that is the teeth and crowded but generally the jaw structure and position is good, then it is best to wait until all the adult teeth have come through which usually happens at 13 to 14 years of age.
If there are functional concerns, your child may start orthodontic treatment from as young as 6 years old. Usually though, most treatment for functional reasons occurs from 10 years of age in girls and slightly later in boys.
Sometimes there is a major structural issue that need a combination of surgery and orthodontics to fix and in these cases orthodontics usually starts once growth is complete, which varies but is usually around 16 years of age.
The best way to find out when you need to start is by speaking to your dentist.
How long will my child need to wear braces?
This can vary but a majority of cases are completed within 18 months to 2 years.
Are braces painful?
There is some discomfort with having braces, particularly after an adjustment appointment. Once children get used to having the braces, which normally takes about a week they can eat and drink most food.
Do my child’s braces need any special care?
While your child has braces it is even more important than normal for good home oral care.
This includes brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Then main difference is that with fixed braces it’s much harder to remove all the plaque. To assist, there are a number of home care products available such as toothbrushes designed to be used on teeth with braces and inter-dental brushes.
If your child is struggling to maintain good home care, products such as tooth mousse and high fluoride toothpaste and reduce the risk of cavities and in these cases it is recommended that they have regular hygiene visits at the dentist.