It is an excellent choice to get your child’s teeth evaluated from an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dentist that specializes in straightening and adjusting the alignment of the teeth. Get your child’s oral health evaluated with your dentist no later than the age of 7. Your dentist would be the best person to seek advice from whether or not your child needs to become acquainted with an orthodontist.
Usually, an orthodontist needs two basic requirements to put braces on. A healthy jaw bone and permanent teeth.
Why do kids need braces?
A child may need braces for a couple of reasons. Look for the following reasons to see if your child needs some fringe perks from an orthodontist.
- Overcrowding or Crowded Teeth
Overcrowding of teeth may be because of either larger or smaller teeth than jaw (family history, or genetics), baby teeth erupt too early or didn’t erupt properly. Any of the reasons can lead to overcrowding, which means that there isn’t enough space for teeth to grow and results in overlapping or twisting of teeth.
- Overbite or Underbite
Overbite is the overlapping of the upper jaw upon the lower jaw. It can be noticed when the upper teeth extrude over the lower jaw.
Underbite or bad bite is when the lower teeth sit farther than the upper teeth. A dental condition that can be noticed when lower teeth overlap the upper ones.
In both of the cases, braces are required to align the teeth within the oral cavity.
- Thumb or Finger Sucking
Prolonged thumb or finger sucking can apply pressure on the roof of the mouth (palate) which can cause the misalignment of the teeth. Motivate your child to abandon the habit of thumb or finger sucking. Encourage him with small rewards when he or she isn’t sucking.
- Mouth breathing
The misaligned shape and size of your jaws can be the reason for the mouth breathing. Somehow the jaws are blocking the nasal air passage and the body automatically make use of the mouth for breathing.
- Biting of the cheeks
Constantly biting the cheeks can be the result of misalignment of the teeth because the two jaws don’t get together evenly. Cheek biting can happen accidentally as well. You are chewing some food and your cheeks, or tongue got in the way and you bite. OOUCH!!
Your First Orthodontist Visit
After thoroughly examining the teeth, mouth and jaw, the orthodontist might check the bite, whether its overbite or underbite. He/she may take X-rays of the jaws and teeth to see how the teeth are placed and whether any permanent teeth have to come in.
If the child needs braces then the orthodontist would take the impression of the child’s teeth by pressing a tray of soft and sticky material onto the top and bottom teeth. The material will get hardened after removal and serves as the replica of the child’s teeth.
Sometimes the orthodontist may advise extracting one or few teeth to make way for the others to align themselves during the course of treatment.
Types of Braces
Braces are usually used to straighten or align the misaligned teeth by consistently applying pressure in bits. All the braces require common basic things- brackets, rubber bands, separators and an archwire. The separators are fixed within the two teeth to create enough space. Then brackets are bonded to the teeth and are connected with an archwire. The later is tightened up over time to slowly move the teeth to their desired position. There are three varieties of braces.
- Metal braces- most commonly used braces. These are clear white ceramic braces and are less noticeable.
- Lingual braces- are the ones in which the brackets are bonded to the back of the teeth.
- Aligners- removable braces that use trays instead of brackets, bands and wire. These aren’t suitable for everyone.
The average time the child needs to wear braces is about 2 years. After that he/she has to wear the retainer for a couple of months to align the tissue surrounding the teeth. Retainers also prevent the teeth to deviate back to its original position.
Care for Braces
Braces always demand extra hard work to keep teeth clean as the food can easily get stuck within the wire and brackets. Brushing and flossing after every meal are essential. Hard popcorns, sticky gums or candies should be avoided as they can stick and damage the brackets. Sugary snacks, ice creams and juices should be avoided as they contribute to the tooth decay. Aligners should always be extracted while eating food.
After every visit, your child might feel uncomfortable and pain because of the tightened wire. Taking prescribed analgesic (pain reliever) and soft, semi-liquid food can help counter this pain.
Immediately seek your orthodontist if your child has a loose bracket or wire, or if anything sharp is stabbing in his/her mouth causing intense pain.
Remember straight and aligned teeth add beauty to smile. It’s worth to bear the pain and patience to complete the course of treatment. Whether your child has or hasn’t had braces maintain a healthy oral habit and get a beautiful smile for a lifetime.