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When Is the Right Time for Kids to Get Braces?

If you’re the parent of a child with a less-than-perfect smile, you may be considering straightening your child’s teeth with braces. But with so much misinformation out there about these orthodontic devices, it can be hard to tell if and when your child actually needs braces - and what kind of braces are best.

Whether you’ve discussed braces with Dr. Simpson or with an orthodontist, or you’ve never considered braces before, here are some indicators that your child may be ready to start straightening his or her smile.

 

Does My Child Need Braces?

Are your child’s teeth crooked? Do they appear crowded together on either jaw? Are there significant gaps between your child’s teeth? Does your child have uneven or excessive wear on some teeth? Does your child have an underbite, overbite or crossbite? Is or was your child a thumb-sucker? If you said yes to any of these question, your child is probably a good candidate for braces.

Crooked Baby Teeth Versus Adult Teeth

Just because your child has perfectly aligned baby teeth doesn’t mean her adult teeth will come in quite so evenly. At the same time, just because her baby teeth are crowded doesn’t mean her adult teeth will be. For this reason, many parents prefer to hold off on orthodontic treatment until their child has lost all of his or her baby teeth. 

But don’t just wait until your child has gotten a full set of adult teeth to address orthodontic needs. Experts recommend at least an initial orthodontic consultation between the ages of 6 and 12. While 6 may be too young to get braces, it’s not too young for your dentist or orthodontist to pinpoint any potential crowding issues and develop a treatment plan for your child’s teeth - even if your child isn’t ready for braces until later.

Map It Out

Once your dentist has mapped out the trouble areas in your child’s mouth, you may begin to treat the teeth immediately, even if your child has not lost all of his or her baby teeth. Sometimes adjusting baby teeth can help make room for emerging adult teeth, even if they haven’t erupted yet.

Which Type of Braces Are Best?

There are many more options for braces than there were when many of us were kids. From traditional wire braces to clear trays, it can be hard to know which option works best for your child’s mouth. While most people would probably prefer the clear trays, this type of orthodontic device will not work with every mouth. For some patients with severe crowding or crookedness, these trays are simply not a good fit. But, those who simply need minor adjustments may be an excellent candidate for aligners such as Invisalign. 

Your dentist can discuss which option will work best for your child’s individual mouth.

Can My Child Care for His Own Braces?

A common question many parents ask is if their child is ready to care for their braces. Braces require more work than simply brushing and flossing your teeth. Braces can cause decalcification spots on the teeth if they are not cleaned properly. These spots are permanent but are easily preventable by brushing and flossing regularly. In addition to caring for the teeth, your child must also be prepared to care for the braces themselves. Braces have many surfaces and lots of nooks and crannies for food and plaque to get caught in, so excellent cleaning habits are a must. 

You may also want to invest in an electric toothbrush and a device such as a Waterpik to help your child remove excess debris from between the wires and brackets. You should also be prepared to stay on top of your child’s hygiene, frequently checking to see that they are taking proper care of their braces, avoiding gummy or crunchy foods, wearing rubber bands as directed, and following their dentist’s instructions between appointments.

Ultimately, your child’s dentist will know when the best time to begin orthodontic treatment will be - and which orthodontic devices will give the best results. If you are interested in evaluating your child for braces, give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at 910-550-3959 and schedule a consultation.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959