We have all seen many children growing up with crooked, misaligned teeth, and an equally large number with braces. What is the reason behind the growing use of braces to straighten children's teeth?
Over time, parents have realized what dentists always knew – it is easier and simpler to treat dental problems in early childhood rather than as adults. The reasons are simple. The response is better, the treatment is quicker and complications are less frequent. Besides, some young patients even like the idea of wearing braces as a "status symbol."
The Need for Interceptive Orthodontics
It is for this reason that dentists look at children carefully to determine if interceptive orthodontics is required. Basically, in children, orthodontists identify phase I and phase II treatment. Phase I is interceptive in that a problem that might become serious later is corrected early. Most of these problems are structural in nature and either can't be corrected later on or are much more difficult to correct at a later time.
Often a child will loose a deciduous tooth (milk tooth) and a permanent tooth will not emerge in the gap for several years. This causes the other teeth to crowd in to fill the space. Often this sort of a situation will require a interceptive orthodontics in the form of a space maintainer.
In phase II, the problem is safely handled later, when the jawbone has matured and adequate permanent teeth have emerged.
The Right Time for Braces
Normally orthodontists put off giving braces till the child reaches early teens because the jaw bone is simply not mature enough, and too many changes are yet to occur. However, based on a specific situation, your dentist might recommend placing them earlier.
Signs that indicate that your child may need orthodontic treatment:
□ Difficulty chewing or biting food
□ Mouth breathing
□ Finger or thumb sucking
□ Crowded, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth
□ Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude or are recessed
□ Speech difficulty
□ Biting cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
□ Protruding teeth
□ Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or not at all
□ Facial imbalance or asymmetry
□ Grinding or clenching of teeth
□ Inability to comfortably close lips
How Do Braces Feel?
There will be some soreness associated with the braces for a couple of days, but that should go away fairly quickly. Your orthodontist may prescribe a pain reliever, such as Advil or Tylenol, to help. In a few days most patients become better adapted to braces and their speech should be near normal again.
Braces are now available in a variety of colors. Maybe your child will feel happier if he got one of those instead.
If the child is apprehensive about the metal in his mouth, you could get him clear braces or ceramic braces instead. They are nearly invisible from all but a few steps away and remove much of the apprehension associated with braces.
For a complimentary examination appointment to see if you have a dental alignment problem and what treatment would be right for you, please contact us online or call 650-961-5047.
We'll answer any questions you may have, and give you a free written estimate regarding costs and insurance benefits before you leave.
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