Choosing braces is an important step towards a lifetime of orthodontic health. They are an incredible gift to give your child, because a straight smile will last throughout adolescence and adulthood. Parents usually have a lot of questions about getting braces for kids, including when the treatment should start. How old should your children be when they get braces? At Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX, we can provide answers to this and many more questions.
Why Do Children Need Braces in the First Place?
There is a common misunderstanding that children don’t need braces until they lose all of their baby teeth. If a tooth is going to fall out, it doesn’t matter if it is crooked or straight, right? Actually, this assumption is wrong. Baby teeth create paths that guide the adult teeth into position. Straighter teeth in children result in a healthier situation later on.
Early treatment is the term for the phase of care children can receive when they still have some baby teeth. Opting for it can target your child’s orthodontic issues when the mouth is still mailable and alignment issues are easy to fix. Getting the right care early can save you money and prevent your child from experiencing a lot of discomfort later in life. It can also provide immediate relief to any problems your child is currently experiencing with his or her teeth. These could include difficulty chewing, speech impediments, and headaches.
What Is the Right Age for Early Treatment?
Most kids who need orthodontic treatment can get braces after age seven, when some of their adult teeth have erupted but a good number of baby teeth are still present. We recommend that you bring your child in for an examination at age six. After early treatment, there is a resting phase of about one year. Following this interval, most kids who had braces when they were younger will need them again as teenagers. The good news is that the process will be faster and easier for them as a result of the early treatment.
Regardless of age, some children don’t require braces at all. Others can get all the benefits they need from partial braces, which target some teeth but not others. It is possible that your child will need an apparatus like a pallet expander, but you probably don’t need to worry about headgear. It is seldom used any more. We will be able to make an effective plan for your child during an in-person consultation.
Braces for Kids Ages Seven to Nine
If your child is on the younger side, traditional metal braces are probably the best treatment option. They are also the least expensive. This system has been around for decades with a track record of excellent results. Metal braces straighten the teeth with brackets and archwires that are connected with rubber bands.
The biggest advantage of choosing traditional braces for your child is the fact that they give your orthodontist a lot of control, meaning that the treatment can progress quickly towards an optimal outcome. If your child has severely misaligned teeth, traditional braces are usually a wise choice. They are an especially good idea for younger children because they cannot be taken out. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about your child forgetting them somewhere or refusing to wear them. They are also made of durable materials that can withstand play and other activities.
Mini Braces and Self-Ligating Braces
In the world of orthodontia today, many great options exist for your child. New advances make it possible to get results quickly, increase comfort, and achieve a more subtle look during the process. Mini braces are a good variation for parents who want their children to enjoy the benefits of a reduced bracket size. These smaller pieces work in the same way as traditional braces, but they are more comfortable and less noticeable.
Self-ligating braces are an exciting option because they can decrease the amount of time needed for your child’s treatment. This system uses metal clips instead of rubber bands. As a result, your child’s teeth can slide along the wires more easily. Without the rubber bands, there is less friction holding them back.
You may have heard about clear or ceramic braces. They work the same way as traditional braces, but they have clear brackets. While they have the advantage of offering a subtle look, we do not usually recommend them for children. The reason is that they can break more easily. In any case, children are not usually self-conscious enough to require them. However, if you need orthodontic work or have teenagers who do, ceramic braces could be a good option. Some people choose to use them on their top teeth and have traditional metal braces applied to the bottom.
Helping Younger Children Care for Their Braces
Braces can provide a good opportunity to show your children how to be responsible when it comes to their dental health. We will help you show them how to clean their braces and treat them gently. At home, you should help your child brush their teeth and make it a fun activity. You can provide incentives and rewards for good dental care, which will make getting braces seem like a fun game.
Helping Your Child Eat the Right Foods
There are some food restrictions for traditional metal braces and their variations. In general, your child should avoid foods that are sticky, chewy, or hard. Some things you should not give a child who has braces include:
- Hard vegetables like carrots
- Hard fruits like apples
As a parent, you are naturally more involved in regulating your children’s diet when they are younger. When you are shopping and cooking, you can make sure they are eating right. Explain the importance of avoiding restricted foods to your children and encourage them to make good decisions when they have the opportunity to choose their own food. You should also talk with teachers and the parents of your children’s friends to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Braces for Kids Older Than Nine
For children older than nine, we still recommend traditional metal braces, mini braces, or self-ligating braces. These types are durable, fast-working, and effective. For highly mature children who respect the importance of their orthodontic work, Invisalign might be another option.
Instead of metal brackets, the Invisalign system uses plastic aligners that fit over the teeth. They are made of special clear material and look virtually invisible when they are worn. Unlike braces, the aligners are removed for eating and cleaning. Older children might appreciate this fact because it means that there are no food restrictions. However, if you go for this option, be careful that your child does not lose the aligners. Also, make sure that he or she wears them at least 22 hours a day. This is the minimum amount of time required for them to work.
Helping Older Children Feel Comfortable With Braces
Older children are usually able to clean their braces themselves and are often more independent about selecting their food. We will show your child how to brush them and explain the importance of avoiding dietary items that are off-limits. When you get home, ask your child if he or she has any problems brushing and give some reminders that gum and toffee should be avoided until the braces come off.
If your child feels self-conscious about wearing braces, try focusing on the positive aspects of the experience. You might be able to find some photos of a favorite music star wearing braces. You could even show younger pictures of yourself with braces. With the right attitude, some children actually come to like braces because they are associated with adolescence. Of course, there’s also the fact that the rubber bands come in fun colors.
Why Are Braces for Kids So Beneficial?
They Can Correct Many Complicated Problems
The results of braces are truly amazing. Even if your child has severely misaligned teeth now, he or she can look forward to a straight smile and excellent dental health after the treatment. The right orthodontic care can fix almost any issue, including gaps in the teeth, bite abnormalities, and overcrowding.
They Make Cleaning Easier
Brushing crooked teeth is a difficult task. It is difficult to get into the areas of overlap to thoroughly remove plaque. Getting straighter teeth will help your child avoid gum disease and cavities. It is also a way to prevent bad breath, which is something everyone can live without.
They Prevent Chronic Conditions and Injuries
Protruding teeth make children prone to mouth injuries. Severe bite problems can create speech impediments, headaches, and even trouble sleeping. Braces can help correct these problems and prevent new ones from arising.
They Improve Self-Esteem
Most people who grow to adulthood without having braces wish for straighter teeth. While many adults today choose to get braces, it is easier to solve orthodontic problems in children. If your child needs early treatment, getting him or her braces can help avoid many years of self-consciousness.
A beautifully straight smile is something to be proud of for life. Imagine your child showing off perfectly aligned teeth in prom pictures, graduation photos, and other important milestones. Ultimately, the best part of braces is the feeling of self-confidence they bring.
Schedule a Consultation
The best way to understand the right age for your child to start braces is by coming in for a consultation. We will examine his or her teeth and answer any questions regarding the treatment. By getting a look at the situation, we will be able to determine whether or not your child is a good candidate for early treatment and how soon he or she should begin. The consultation is also a great opportunity for you to meet our staff and see our facilities.
Give Your Child the Gift of Healthy Teeth
One great thing about braces is that they can benefit children of many ages. The need for healthy teeth is universal, and everyone wants their kids to have beautiful smiles. Childhood is all about learning, having fun, and preparing for success in adulthood. Make healthy teeth part of your child’s success story. Getting orthodontic care for children as soon as they are ready promotes good dental hygiene, avoids chronic conditions, and boosts confidence levels.
Whether you choose traditional braces, mini braces, self-ligating braces, or Invisalign, straighter teeth will benefit your child throughout his or her life. Contact Central Texas Orthodontics in Austin, TX for more information about braces for kids. We would love to work with your family and ensure that your child has healthy teeth going into adulthood.