As a parent, there is no greater gift than seeing your child’s bright smile. Unfortunately, many children are self-conscious and even scared to show their teeth. Many people think orthodontic work should wait until adolescence, but it is actually recommended to bring your child to the orthodontist by age 7 for their first examination. Around this age, children have a mixture of baby teeth and permanent teeth, making it easier to move the teeth and jaw. Being proactive with your child’s orthodontics is a great way to save time, money, and discomfort later on in their life.
Benefits of Early Treatment
In addition to leaving patients with beautifully straight teeth, braces function to fix many other orthodontic issues that most people overlook. Braces align the teeth and jaw, so the way we chew, breathe, and speak does not cause discomfort. Orthodontists are able to predict these kinds of problems early on in a child’s life based on how the teeth and jaw are developing. Starting treatment at an early age has shown much quicker and more effective results rather than starting in later years.
When you bring your child in for their first appointment, the orthodontist will conduct an oral examination and take X-rays of the maxillofacial area. This will help the orthodontist see if your child is likely to experience overcrowding or bite misalignment as their teeth and jaw continue to develop. If your orthodontist sees any potential problems, they will be able to explain your options moving forward and allow time to answer all of your questions. Alternatively, if your child does not require any intervention at this time, your orthodontist may ask you to return for periodic check-ups to monitor tooth development.
Types of Braces
There are now multiple kinds of braces to choose from based on your child’s orthodontic needs and lifestyle. At NC Tooth Docs Orthodontics & Kids Dentistry, we offer traditional metal braces and Iconix aesthetic braces. Traditional braces have been around for decades and are still being used today because they consistently leave patients with glowing results. This type of braces uses metal brackets that are glued to the teeth and connected via wires to pull the teeth and jaw into place.
Iconix aesthetic braces use stainless steel brackets that are either champagne or gold in order to mimic the color of the teeth. The mechanism of action for these braces is the same as traditional braces, but they offer a more inconspicuous look since the color of the braces blends in with your child’s teeth. Both traditional and Iconix braces will require manual tightenings by your orthodontist periodically. Iconix braces are a great option for children who do not want their braces to look very obvious or draw attention to their smile.
Life with Braces
Braces generally do not cause significant changes to a child’s life. They are not painful but may cause some soreness after they are tightened. This discomfort can be alleviated with a pain reducer and eating soft foods for a day or two after visiting the orthodontist. Sometimes, friction between the brackets and the inner gums can lead to tenderness, which we recommend treating with dental wax. This non-toxic wax can be used to cover brackets and leave a smooth surface that will not bother your child.
One lifestyle change that is very important to make while your child wears braces is avoiding hard, sticky, and chewy foods. These foods tend to break and damage braces, leading to wires poking out and emergency visits to the orthodontist. Another small change is to make sure your child wears a braces-friendly mouthguard during sports or other physical activities. We encourage children to run, play, and enjoy themselves while wearing braces, but to do so in a safe manner that won’t harm their teeth or braces.
When your child has braces on, it is important to remind them that they can’t skimp on dental hygiene. Many children do not like brushing or flossing their teeth, and braces can make these habits more of a nuisance sometimes. It is imperative that you encourage your child to brush twice a day and use the flosser provided by your orthodontist to clean in between their teeth. Braces brackets act as a magnet for plaque and buildup, making it paramount to keep up good dental hygiene during treatment so that your child will not only have straighter teeth by the end of their treatment, but healthy ones too!