Most parents are concerned about the health and well-being of their children. The last thing that they want is for their children to grow up sick or deal with health issues later on in life that could have been addressed when they were children. This is why parents take their children to the doctor, they take their children to get eyeglasses, and they take their children to the dentist. As the importance of long-term oral health is becoming better understood, people are taking their children to the dentist with greater frequency, and it is becoming more common to see braces for kids.
Some parents may ask if their children really these appliances or if it is just a cash grab. We would like to take a look at some of the circumstances that may require a child to use an orthodontic appliance to repair their teeth and other points that are good for parents to know.
Are the Results Worth the Price?
Loving parents want their children to have the best oral health care possible. However, when they are confronted with the cost of braces for kids, it is only fair for them to wonder whether or not it is something that their children need right now or if it is a trend that many parents are following but is not necessary. The truth is that you see more children using orthodontic apparatuses because orthodontists have learned a lot more about how a person’s teeth develop in youth and the effect that it is going to have on the individual as they get older.
When kids have orthodontic problems or when their dentist feels that they might have orthodontic problems in the future, they will usually get sent to an orthodontist at around seven or eight years of age. At this age, children usually have a full set of baby teeth. And it is at this age when their adult teeth begin their descent. This makes it possible for orthodontists to look at a patient and determine in advance what will likely happen in their mouth over the next few years. It’s good for parents to be involved in their child’s oral health care, especially during this sensitive stage.
In most cases, visiting the orthodontist for that initial consultation is not going to cost the parent anything. During that initial consultation, they are looking for things like jaw misalignment, tooth crowding, etc. They want to see if the child shows signs of a severe overbite or a severe underbite.
If the orthodontist sees these things, they may be able to recommend some early intervention steps that can correct these issues. The younger a child is, the more malleable their bones are. So just a little bit of correction in youth can encourage a child’s bones to grow into a more ideal shape. Another great thing about making these dental adjustments in children is that children grow fast. This means that their jaw bones grow quickly and will quickly adjust to any changes that are being made.
Early intervention, including the use of braces, can prevent serious issues further down the road. For example, when a child is between six and seven years of age, their molars start to erupt. The new molar is following the baby molar. But what happens if the child lost their baby molar when they were three or four years of age? The adult molar, as it comes out, may shift out of place. If it is not corrected, it could lead to crowding in the mouth in the future. By adjusting the adult molar with braces for kids, you can basically avoid frustrating orthodontic work in the future.
How Can Parents Tell if Their Child’s Teeth Need to Be Fixed?
Parents would do well to keep their eyes on how their children’s teeth are growing. By the time a child is three years old, they should have their 20 primary teeth. Somewhere between the ages of six and nine, they should start to see their permanent teeth emerge. The front teeth come in first because these are the largest. Then the molars come in.
A dentist will be able to help monitor the way a child’s teeth are coming in to make sure that they are growing in according to plan and that there is sufficient room for them.
A parent may ask, is it really necessary to find an orthodontist? Or is it good enough to have my child’s dentist do the work? This is a fair question because if your child has been visiting the same dentist since infancy, they are likely very comfortable with their dentist. So you may think since your child is already comfortable with the dentist, why not just have the dentist do the work of putting on braces for kids?
The reason is that most dentists are not experienced when it comes to putting on dental appliances, especially braces for kids. Sure, they may put these appliances on once or twice each year. Conversely, orthodontists put on dental appliances day after day. They understand how to do these treatments with a level of skill, training, and efficiency that many dentists just don’t have. Although it is commendable for a parent to be concerned about how comfortable their child feels with the individual doing the treatment, they definitely do not want to sacrifice the quality of care their children get simply for comfort.
Is It Really Important for Children to Have Straight Teeth?
This is another question that some parents may ask when thinking about braces for kids. They may think to themselves that when they were younger, they never went to the dentist and never got their teeth straightened out. So why is it so important for their children to have these treatments performed?
There are a number of factors that should be considered regarding braces for kids. First is appearance. When a child has straight teeth, they feel more confident in the way that they look because their teeth look nice. It is no exaggeration to say that appearance is more important today than it has ever been. Children especially find themselves the victims of bullies in school and in other environments based on their appearance. There are some aesthetic benefits to improving the way your child’s teeth look.
But that is just part of the story. In addition to looking nice, having straight teeth can help your child out in a number of aspects of life. For example, if their teeth are straight, they will be able to chew better. If they are able to chew better, they will be able to break down their food, their body will digest it better, and they will get the nutrients that they need from their food.
You can tell how important having straight teeth is when you look at the fact that there are a number of adults who are now going to the orthodontist to get their teeth straightened out. Unfortunately, having the treatments done as an older individual takes longer, the results are not as dramatic, and they feel more discomfort now than they would have if they had had the treatments done in youth.
Straight teeth make it easier for a person to speak clearly. All of us know individuals who have difficulty enunciating their words because they have crooked teeth and their tongue interacts poorly with their teeth. Other things like singing, whistling, smiling, and just enjoy an overall sense of well-being can be connected to having healthy looking teeth.
What if My Child Is Scared?
It is not uncommon for a child to feel scared or unnerved at the thought of visiting the orthodontist and having braces put on. Part of this fear may be projected on them by parents who had dental apparatuses in the past. What parents can tell children to help them feel better prior to treatment is that the treatment itself has changed drastically in the last few years.
Now, braces for kids are a lot more comfortable. The treatment is shorter, perhaps a fraction of the time that may have been true during your generation. In times past it was accepted that a person would have braces for at least three years. Many young individuals today are able to have the entire treatment process from start to finish in two years or less.
Assure your child that they are going to have a lot fewer orthodontist visits. Just a few years ago, the practice was to adjust the wires on apparatuses once every three or four weeks. With modern technology, wire adjustments only need to be made once every two or three months.
If the concern is about how everyone else is going to react to your child having braces, there are two things that a parent should consider. First, society’s view of an individual with dental corrective apparatuses in their mouth has changed drastically. It’s now understood is that if a person wants to be more attractive when they get older, they’re going to have to make some changes in youth. This goes hand-in-hand with the increased emphasis that society is putting on appearance.
Second, there are a number of options that are specifically designed to reduce the impact that the appearance of these treatments may have on a person. For example, there is a product called Invisalign® Teen. These are invisible trays that are used to align the teeth. Since they’re made of a clear plastic, they are all but invisible. And what’s great about them is that your child can take them off when they need to. If they are going on their first date, they’re going to have school pictures taken, or they are going to be at another event or location where they don’t want everyone to focus on their teeth, the aligner trays can be removed. What’s nice is that these invisible aligner trays work just as well, in most cases, as traditional braces for kids.
Parents can assure their children that any discomfort they experience during the first few days of having dental appliances is very temporary. Things like ice packs or over-the-counter medications can go a long way in making those first few days of having dental appliances more comfortable. Additionally, the orthodontist is going to give you gel or other things that you can apply to the inside of the mouth to minimize the feeling of irritation having dental appliances for the first time may cause.
Other Things to Remember
Parents can help their children, especially during the first few days after getting braces, by being mindful of the foods that they prepare. In the weeks following treatment, your child is going to be able to go back to eating a lot of the normal foods they enjoy. There are only a few foods that need to be avoided over the long term, including hard candies, nuts, gummy candies, and sticky things like gum, caramels, and licorice.
Your child’s orthodontist will likely encourage them to stay away from things like apples and corn on the cob. They will also provide your child with practical suggestions that they can follow in order to keep their teeth as healthy as possible. This will include frequent brushing, flossing, and using specialized tools to remove any food that might get caught in or around the dental apparatus.
Would you like to learn more about the benefits of having our orthodontist at Brodie Bowman Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics see whether or not your child needs braces? If so, visit one of our offices in Niceville or Fort Walton Beach. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!