As a parent you’re committed to ensuring your child’s health and wellbeing. When it comes to oral health, kids’ braces can play a significant role in helping your child achieve a beautifully straight smile and correct dental alignment. If your child is in need of orthodontic braces, it’s natural to have questions and concerns. Thankfully, this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about kids’ braces, from the various types available to the care required throughout the treatment process.
Braces are orthodontic devices used to correct misaligned teeth and jaw issues. They work by gradually applying pressure to shift the teeth into their new desired positions. While many parents might be concerned about the cosmetic aspect of kids’ braces, their benefits extend far beyond aesthetics. In fact, correctly aligned teeth can improve oral hygiene, reduce the risk of gum disease and even enhance speech and chewing functions.
Types of Braces
- Modern Metal Braces: A traditional brace and one of (if not the most) common orthodontic brace system for both children and adult patients. You’ll be pleased to know traditional metal ‘‘train-track’’ braces are a thing of the past. We’ve evolved and modern metal braces are smaller than ever before, more comfortable and with strong adhesives. They consist of metal brackets attached to the teeth and are connected with an archwire. While they are more noticeable than other brace types, they are the most cost-effective orthodontic option.
- Ceramic Braces: Offering all the benefits of a metal brace, a ceramic brace has a smoother ceramic bracket with more rounded edges. They lie flatter against the teeth, making them more comfortable and less bulky.
- Hidden Lingual Braces: Also known as Incognito braces (or ebrace systems), lingual braces are placed on the inner surfaces of the teeth – on the tongue-side of the mouth. They are invisible from the outside, providing a cosmetic advantage. However, they can be more challenging to clean but they are 100% customised to deliver specific results for each individual patient.
- Invisalign Teen: This modern orthodontic option involves a series of clear and removable aligners (also known as trays) that gradually shift the teeth into the corrected alignment. Invisalign clear aligners are made from a strong material to withstand any bending or cracking, and are trimmed to fit your exact gum line as they ‘hug’ each individual tooth. They’re also easy to put in and take out, and are virtually invisible, so life can carry on as normal. As the aligners are removable, patients can continue to enjoy their favourite foods without restrictions.
It’s worthing noting that patients below 18 years old who require orthodontic treatment but cannot afford to pay for private care can seek brace treatment on the NHS. We recommend consulting a dental health professional (your dentist or local orthodontist) as soon as possible to determine whether your child would be eligible for NHS-funded treatment. At Orthodontics For You, we provide NHS braces to eligible patients to help improve their smile and, in turn, their self-confidence.
When is the Right Time for Braces?
It’s important to note that the timing for kids’ braces is different for each individual. Orthodontic issues can manifest at various ages, but most children receive brace treatment between the ages of 9 and 14 once their adult, permanent teeth have come through. If you’re unsure whether your child’s adult teeth have come through, the good news is that an orthodontist can evaluate their teeth and recommend the most suitable treatment plan at the right time.
The Treatment Process
- Consultation: The first step is an initial consultation with an orthodontist. They will examine your child’s teeth and jaw, possibly taking X-rays and impressions, to develop a personalised treatment plan.
- Fitting: Once a treatment plan is established, the chosen type of braces will be designed, created and fitted to your child’s teeth.
- Adjustments: Regular appointments (typically every six weeks) are necessary throughout treatment to adjust the braces, ensuring they continue to exert the right amount of pressure to effectively and efficiently move the teeth to the desired position. The orthodontist may tighten the wires or replace aligner trays to ensure sufficient progress.
- Hygiene: It’s crucial to maintain excellent oral hygiene during treatment. Encourage your child to brush after every meal and floss regularly. Orthodontic-specific tools, like floss threaders, can help clean around the brackets and wires effectively.
- Dietary Restrictions: Certain foods can damage braces so it’s important to avoid sticky, hard or chewy foods that could damage the brackets or wires.
- Discomfort: Your child might experience some discomfort once their brace is first fitted and again after their adjustment appointments. Over-the-counter pain relievers and orthodontic wax (to alleviate irritation from wires) can provide relief. However, not everyone experiences discomfort. For those that do, it soon disappears (usually within a few days).
Duration of Treatment
The length of treatment varies depending on the severity of the orthodontic issues and the type of braces used. On average, treatment can last anywhere from one to three years. Your orthodontist will confirm at your consultation the recommended brace types and the expected treatment times.
After the kid’s braces are removed, a retainer is usually provided to maintain the new alignment while the teeth settle into their new positions. Retainers might be removable or fixed, depending on the orthodontist’s recommendation.
The cost of braces varies widely based on a number of factors, including the type of brace (metal, ceramic, lingual or Invisalign), the complexity of the case (the type of misalignment), and the location of the orthodontic practice.
Orthodontics For You have two orthodontic practices: one in Solihull and another in Bromsgrove. Nevertheless, our price list is the same for each location.
The Emotional Aspect
Wearing braces can be an emotional experience for children. They might feel self-conscious about their appearance and struggle with the challenges of oral hygiene and dietary restrictions. As a parent, providing emotional support and understanding can make a significant difference in how your child navigates this journey.
While the decision to get braces for your child can be a big one, it’s ultimately an investment in their future oral health and confidence. By understanding the different types of braces available, the treatment process and the importance of proper care, you’re well-equipped to guide your child through this transformative experience.
Remember, a beautiful smile is not only about appearance but also about fostering a lifetime of good oral health.