When your child’s permanent teeth start coming in (usually at the age of around 7 years), any overcrowding, overbite or crookedness will quickly start to become apparent. If it appears that your child’s teeth may need correcting in order for them to grow straight (which may help their speech and bite) your dentist will talk to you about how braces can help.
We have a number of specialist children’s orthodontists at Damira who are all specially trained and committed to ensuring that your child will receive the best possible care in a gentle, calm environment.
What Braces Are Suitable For Children?
Although aligners such as the Invisalign system are available for adult teeth, children’s teeth are corrected and straightened using fixed braces. These consist of tooth-coloured or metal brackets and bands that are securely fixed to your child’s teeth. Very thin metal wires are attached to the brackets using steel or coloured plastic rings, and these gently push your child’s teeth into their ideal positions over time.
Braces are usually attached to the front of your child’s teeth but there are also braces that can be attached to the back of their teeth (these are called lingual braces). If your child still has some baby teeth in place, your dentist may recommend removable braces instead, or functional removable braces which are used to alter jaw growth to normalise a child’s bite.
Every child is different, and so your dentist can advise you as to which types of braces are most suitable for your child.
How Do Children’s Braces Work?
Children’s mouths are still developing and braces tend to be more effective when used in childhood than adulthood, so correction at this stage is easier and longer-lasting than waiting until they are fully developed. Braces work by gently pushing teeth into the correct position using a carefully-positioned series of brackets, bands and wires which are gradually tightened and adjusted until teeth are in their ideal positions.
Will Braces Work For My Child?
It is worth considering how your child will be affected by overcrowded or misaligned teeth without treatment. Speech, bite, chewing and self-confidence can all be affected by these issues. Your dentist will be able to give their professional opinion about whether your child needs braces, and we will support your decision as a parent whatever you decide to do.
We believe in helping you to make informed decisions and your child’s orthodontist will give you the facts you need to weigh up when making choices concerning your child’s orthodontic treatment. General information you might like to be aware of includes:
- If you decide to allow your child to have braces, these will not normally affect their speech. However, some types of braces (such as braces with a palatal expander appliance or lingual braces) can interfere with speech initially whilst your child adjusts to the braces.
- If your child plays a musical instrument that is played with a mouthpiece, it typically takes around two weeks for a child with braces to achieve their previous level of expertise as they need to learn how to blow correctly with braces in place.
- Teeth are more difficult to clean with braces in place, but brushing is even more important when wearing braces because food can easily become trapped and increase the risk of decay. Your child will need to be encouraged and helped to brush their teeth after every meal and snack and also for five minutes every morning and night. Your child’s orthodontist can help you and your child to learn how to brush carefully and effectively and can recommend products that will help at home.
- Your child should avoid eating hard food or biting large pieces of food as these actions could dislodge the brackets, bands or wires. If your child habitually chews pencils or their nails this can also damage their braces and will need careful monitoring to stop. Due to the extra risk of decay, your child should not eat food or drinks with a high sugar content.
If possible, try to involve your child in making this decision so that they are more likely to understand the restrictions that they will need to follow. Your child’s orthodontist will support you in this by explaining to your child in simple terms what is involved and what will be achieved (and how this will help them in the long term).
How Long Do Children’s Braces Take To Fit & Work?
To be fitted with braces, your child will need to come for four initial visits and then regular follow-up visits whilst their braces remain in place. Braces typically take two to three years to correct misaligned or crowded teeth, during which time it will be necessary for your child to visit their orthodontist regularly.
Your child’s orthodontist will take x-rays, photographs and impressions so that they can make a model of your child’s mouth: all of these will be used to plan your child’s treatment. If your child’s teeth are overcrowded, your child may need to have teeth extracted to make room for their other teeth to be spaced more evenly.
Your orthodontist will explain the treatment plan and the braces suitable for your condition. If extractions are necessary, your dentist will inform you at this appointment if it has not already been discussed; the teeth will be extracted just before or just after the braces are fitted. Extractions are usually carried out using local anaesthetic; when your child’s mouth is completely numb, the teeth are gently twisted out of place without any traumatic tugging.
At this appointment, separators (small plastic ‘doughnuts’) will be placed between your child’s molars for a week to create spaces for the molar bands.
Third & Fourth Visits
This is when the brackets and bands are cemented to your child’s teeth. This can take two appointments to avoid your child becoming tired or uncomfortable. The wires are attached to the brackets.
Your child will need to return for appointments every four to eight weeks so that adjustments can be made to the wires and any other changes can be made if necessary to ensure that your child’s teeth are moving as expected. Your child may be supplied with accessories such as elastics, face masks, headgear or bite plates: your dentist will discuss what any accessories are necessary for and how they should be used. These accessories play an important role in the treatment and if they are not used then your child’s treatment could fail.
When your child’s teeth are aligned as planned, your child will need a final ‘debanding’ appointment at which the cement that bonded the brackets to their teeth will be removed. Their newly-straightened teeth will be polished and impressions will be taken so that a retainer can be made. This retainer will need to be worn regularly over the next few years to keep your child’s teeth in their new positions.
If you are concerned that your child’s teeth are overcrowded or misaligned, call us to arrange an appointment with one of our dentists. Alternatively, you could simply arrange a regular check-up and mention your concerns to your dentist at that appointment. If braces are likely to be necessary, your dentist will refer you to one of our orthodontists for more specialist advice. If your child has already seen a dentist or orthodontist and you would like your child to be treated at Damira, please mention this to our receptionist when you call so that you can be referred directly to our orthodontists.