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You’ve just tak­en your child to the den­tist, who then referred you to an ortho­don­tist. The ortho­don­tist rec­om­mends that your child get braces. Braces are used to straight­en crooked/misaligned teeth and help cor­rect jaw mis­align­ments with­out surgery if possible. Does your child real­ly need braces? What will the long-term effects be if you opt out of braces? Can you afford it? You want your child to get braces, but should you hold off for a year or two? Is your child respon­si­ble enough to have braces and to care for them prop­er­ly? There is a lot to think about before mak­ing a final decision.

Problems That Could Result In Braces

  • Does your child have teeth that overlap? 
  • Did your child use a paci­fi­er longer than they should have? 
  • Did they suck their thumb? 
  • Are their teeth crowded? 
  • Do their teeth have a lot of spac­ing between them?
  • Does one jaw seem too for­ward or retracted?
  • Are they miss­ing per­ma­nent teeth?
  • Is your child self-con­scious of their smile? 
  • Are there prob­lems with speech or chew­ing and biting? 
If you answered yes to any of these ques­tions, your child might indeed need braces. Let me say that being self-con­scious is not a med­ical prob­lem. How­ev­er, hav­ing con­fi­dence is extreme­ly impor­tant for chil­dren, teens, and even adults. I am speak­ing from expe­ri­ence when I say it can be hard­er to suc­ceed when you lack con­fi­dence in your appear­ance. So, if you think that can be a pos­si­bil­i­ty for your child or teen when they get old­er, this is some­thing you should con­sid­er when decid­ing whether or not they should get braces. Some of the issues I men­tioned above can cause long-term health prob­lems or even a life­time of pain and dis­com­fort if they are not treat­ed. If there is an over­bite, which is when the upper teeth are over­lap­ping the low­er teeth, it can result in los­ing teeth, headaches, jaw locks, pain while chew­ing, and oth­er den­tal issues if it is not treated. Hav­ing teeth that over­lap or crowd­ed teeth can make it dif­fi­cult to brush and floss prop­er­ly. Over time, this can lead to cav­i­ties, gin­givi­tis, and even peri­odon­ti­tis which is a more seri­ous infection. Using a paci­fi­er and thumb suck­ing can be com­fort­ing to infants and tod­dlers but if it’s not stopped ear­ly enough these things can lead to over­bites, under­bites, speech prob­lems, and it can neg­a­tive­ly affect the align­ment of teeth. If your child has issues with their mouth or teeth from using a paci­fi­er or thumb suck­ing, braces are prob­a­bly nec­es­sary for them. Hav­ing too much space between your teeth is the oppo­site of hav­ing crowd­ed teeth, but it can still cause prob­lems. Large spaces mean there is more room for food and plaque to build up on the teeth. This issue can be pre­vent­ed with thor­ough teeth brush­ing and floss­ing twice a day, but prob­lems can still occur.

Are Braces Painful?

Braces can cause a lit­tle bit of pain, and they can be uncom­fort­able. The pain usu­al­ly occurs soon after get­ting braces placed on the teeth and after adjust­ments. This pain doesn’t usu­al­ly last more than a few days or hours and can be man­aged with pain med­ica­tion and a soft diet on those days.

How Do You Take Care Of Braces?

does my child need braces l signs your child needs braces When con­sid­er­ing braces for your child, there are some oth­er things to keep in mind. Your child needs to make sure they are tak­ing care of their teeth by hav­ing good oral hygiene practices.  Brush­ing their teeth and floss­ing is cru­cial for ensur­ing there is no poten­tial dam­age to their teeth and the rest of their mouth. Hav­ing poor oral hygiene while wear­ing braces can lead to cav­i­ties on the teeth and/or gum dis­ease or bone loss. If your child is not going to be respon­si­ble enough to take care of their teeth and braces, you need to be pre­pared to do it your­self, or your child’s teeth could end up worse than when they start­ed with braces. If this is some­thing that is a con­cern, it may be best to hold off on get­ting braces for a cou­ple more years. Keep in mind that there are also cer­tain foods that need to be avoid­ed while hav­ing braces. Bit­ing into hard foods can dam­age the braces. There­fore, it is rec­om­mend­ed that these food-like apples, for exam­ple be cut into small­er pieces to make them eas­i­er to eat, but there are some foods that shouldn’t be eat­en at all. Snacks like pop­corn, chips, nuts, and gum should be avoided. If you don’t think your child will fol­low these guide­lines, this might be a good rea­son to decide against braces or have your child wait until they are old enough and more respon­si­ble for tak­ing this seriously.

How Long Will My Child Have To Wear Braces?

The length of time your child has their braces depends on the sever­i­ty of their den­tal issues. The braces could be on for six months, or they could need to stay on for as long as two to three years. The ortho­don­tist will address this after the ini­tial assess­ment appointment.

What Happens After The Braces Come Off?

does my child need braces l signs your child needs braces When the braces come off, the work doesn’t stop there. A retain­er will most like­ly be need­ed to keep the teeth from shift­ing back to their orig­i­nal posi­tion. If the ortho­don­tist decides a retain­er is nec­es­sary, it’s essen­tial to make sure it’s being worn. If the teeth shift back to their orig­i­nal posi­tion, all that time and mon­ey that was put into the braces will be wast­ed, and the patient will be charged if they want to have braces again.

What Kind Of Braces Are Available?

There are five main types of braces. Met­al braces are the most com­mon, but oth­er braces include ceram­ic braces, self-lig­at­ing braces, lin­gual braces, and Invisalign or clear aligners.

1- Metal Braces

Met­al braces are worn most­ly by chil­dren and teens. Met­al braces can not be removed, which means they need a lot of care and atten­tion to stay clean to pre­vent fur­ther prob­lems. They get adjust­ed about every four to six weeks by the ortho­don­tist. You can also get cool col­ored elas­tics put on these braces which can make them more fun for chil­dren and teens.

2- Ceramic Braces

Ceram­ic braces work in the same way as met­al braces, but they aren’t as notice­able. Ceram­ic braces are larg­er than met­al braces, and there is a risk of stain­ing, so, as I men­tioned before, brush­ing your teeth and braces reg­u­lar­ly is very important.

3- Self-ligating Braces

Self-lig­at­ing braces are sim­i­lar to the first two braces I men­tioned above. The dif­fer­ence is that they use doors or clips that hold the wire in place instead of rub­ber ties. These are eas­i­er to adjust, which means there could be short­er appoint­ment times.

4- Lingual Braces

Unlike met­al braces, ceram­ic braces, and self-lig­at­ing braces, lin­gual braces are attached behind the teeth. Lin­gual braces are great for those that don’t want their braces to be noticeable.

5- Invisalign and Clear Aligners

Invisalign and clear align­ers are rel­a­tive­ly new to the mar­ket. They became pop­u­lar in the ear­ly 2000s. Invisalign and clear align­ers are not notice­able while being worn, they can be removed, which makes for eas­i­er teeth brush­ing and floss­ing, and in some cas­es, they don’t have to be used for as long as the more tra­di­tion­al braces. How­ev­er, if they are not worn for the required time, typ­i­cal­ly 20 to 22 hours in the day, the treat­ment time will be extend­ed, and com­pli­ca­tions may arise because of lack of com­pli­ance. There­fore, if com­pli­ance may be an issue, this may not be the best option for your child. As well, the child has to ensure that they place their align­ers in their case and keep them in a safe to avoid los­ing them when they have to remove them for eat­ing, for example.

How Much Do Braces Cost?

Braces are not cheap. If you don’t have thou­sands of dol­lars to dish out for some­thing that isn’t 100% nec­es­sary for your child’s health, it’s essen­tial to know exact­ly why your child’s ortho­don­tist rec­om­mends braces. Braces can cost as lit­tle as $3,000 and as much as $10,000. Insur­ance doesn’t usu­al­ly pay for braces. When they do pay, it’s usu­al­ly just a por­tion of the cost. I read sev­er­al times dur­ing my research that get­ting braces as an adult is more expen­sive than get­ting them as a kid as it may take a longer time and/or more treat­ment to cor­rect the prob­lems. That might be some­thing else you want to take into con­sid­er­a­tion when decid­ing on get­ting your child braces.

Final Thoughts!

There is a lot that goes into get­ting braces and car­ing for them while they are on. The deci­sion to have your child get braces or not isn’t one that should be made light­ly. If you have any doubt with regards to the treat­ment option pre­sent­ed to you, or the cost and time required for the treat­ment, you can and should seek a sec­ond opin­ion from anoth­er orthodontist. You don’t have to make the deci­sion on the day of the con­sul­ta­tion.  Also, bear in mind that dif­fer­ent ortho­don­tics may treat a bit dif­fer­ent­ly than oth­ers, but that does not mean their treat­ment is incor­rect. As well, a dif­fer­ent ortho­don­tist may charge more or less than anoth­er. The most impor­tant thing is that they will all reach the same end results that are best for you or your child.   In the end, it’s ok to wait to get your child braces when they are old­er and more respon­si­ble unless a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al has told you oth­er­wise. Do your research. Talk to oth­er par­ents and care­givers that have got­ten braces for their child. Ask them about their expe­ri­ence. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your child and their health.  Dr. Asile El-Dara­hali has been con­tributed to the article.

Fun Facts About Braces

  • NASA cre­at­ed the wire used in braces.
  • NASA cre­at­ed the nick­el-tita­ni­um that is used in braces in 1959.
  • Tooth extrac­tion might be need­ed in order to straight­en your teeth if your teeth are too crowded.
  • The first set of braces was made in 1728 by a French physi­cian, Pierre Fauchard. That makes braces almost 300 years old!
  • In the 1900s, 14 or 18 karat gold was used to make braces.
  • In Ancient Egypt, there were mum­mies found with ani­mal intestines wrapped around their teeth. Archae­ol­o­gists believe that the ani­mal intestines were sim­i­lar to mod­ern-day braces to try to straight­en teeth.
  • About one in five patients get­ting braces are adults.

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