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When is the Right Time to Get Braces?

November 7, 2012

As children start losing their baby teeth and begin growing permanent, adult teeth, it is not unusual for the teeth to crowd each other. A child’s jaw can take a while to catch up to adult-sized teeth, but working with your dentist, the right time to look into orthodontics can be determined.

Get An Orthodontic Evaluation

It all starts with an initial evaluation. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, an orthodontic evaluation or screening should be done by the time your child is 7 years old.

Dr. Reese or your child’s pediatric dentist will generally know if your child’s teeth might need additional help when he grows up. This is why it is important that early and consistent consultation should be done. An orthodontist is a dentist who has undergone specialized training in aligning and straightening teeth, but some general dentists, such as Dr. Reese, have also had that specialized training and experience and also do orthodontics.

Early diagnosis and corresponding treatment can guide erupting teeth into a more favorable position and preserve space for permanent teeth. This might even decrease the chances of getting braces in the future.

Good orthodontic care helps achieve good oral health.

Does Your Child Need Braces?

Children need braces for either of these reasons:

  • Crooked, overlapping or overcrowded teeth. Braces help correct these conditions.  
  • Malocclusion - a discrepancy in the top and bottom jaw sizes. An overbite is when the upper jaw is bigger than the bottom jaw. When it’s reversed, it’s called an underbite.

While it’s true that braces create beautiful smiles, that’s not all they do. Straight and aligned teeth make it easier to chew food, improve confidence, and can even help prevent snoring.

When is the Right Time for Braces?

It varies, but orthodontists and pediatric dentists generally agree to start their patients’ braces between 8 and 14.

Most dentists traditionally begin treatment with dental braces when your child has lost most of his baby teeth and a majority of his permanent teeth especially some of the 12-year molars have grown in. This usually occurs between the ages of 8 and 14.

There are orthodontists who use a dental appliance, not a dental brace, at an earlier age. This is for children who are embarrassed by their crooked teeth or have trouble with their bites. However, it still concludes with dental braces when they are of enough age.

What Do Braces Do to Your Child’s Teeth?

When your child’s orthodontist uses braces to move teeth, a small pressure is exerted over a period of time that stimulates bone cells to reabsorb in the direction of the teeth movement. Once a space is made, the tooth is pushed into that space. Bone then fills the space once occupied by the tooth. This is repeated until the tooth is in the final desired position.

This can actually happen at any age so adults shouldn’t lose hope in correcting their teeth or bite problems. You can wear braces even when you’re 40 years old!

What Kind of Braces Does Your Child Need to Wear?

Braces come in three varieties and you have a choice on what to use. There are metal or ceramic brackets that are glued to teeth and are less noticeable. This is the most popular type of brackets. There is also the lingual type that consists or brackets attached to the back of teeth so it doesn't show. Bands are the traditional type that covers most teeth with metal bands that wrap around them. All of these use wires to move the teeth to the desired position.

Invisalign braces are also a very much welcome option especially for teenagers (and even adults). These are clear plastic “aligners” that are custom fitted over the upper and lower arches of one’s teeth and work like braces – moving teeth into the desired position.

How Long Will Your Child Need to Wear Them?

It would depend on the treatment plan outlined by Dr. Reese or your child’s orthodontist and your compliance. Most patients usually wear full braces between 12 to 30 months with consistent tightening and adjusting of interconnecting wires every few weeks. When patients fail to come in for adjustments on time, treatment is prolonged and delayed.

How Does One Care for Braces?

Having braces put pressure on the teeth so expect your kid to experience slight pain and discomfort once in a while. Cold drinks can help numb the pain, but in general avoid hard foods or anything that requires a lot of chewing when the pain is the worst. Orajel and other painkillers can also help.

Since it’s easier for food to get stuck in those wires, your kid needs to work harder in keeping their teeth clean. Dr. Reese or your orthodontist can provide  a special flosser to use in and around braces.

It is also advisable to tell your child to avoid certain foods like popcorn, hard and sticky candies or gum because they can damage their braces. If there is a loose wire or bracket, bring him to Dr. Reese or their orthodontist right away.

Dr. Reese Does Braces for Children and Adults

Braces are an investment, but the end result is worth it. Investing in your child’s oral and dental health now can help them with their speech, with their confidence, and in all other areas of their life. If you're in the Indianapolis area and are considering getting braces for yourself or for a child, please call Dr. Reese at 317-882-0228.