The Affordable Dentists in Houston, Texas

Why Kids Need Braces?

10-28-2014

Kids can need braces for any number of reasons, including crooked, overlapping, or overcrowded teeth, or a "bad bite" (known as malocclusion). Malocclusion is when there's a difference in the sizes of the top and bottom jaws. When the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw, it's called an overbite. When the lower jaw is bigger, it's called an underbite.

Sometimes tooth and jaw problems can be caused by tooth decay, losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, or habits like thumb sucking. But often they're inherited, so if you or someone in your family needed braces, it's likely that your kids will, too.

Often, your child's dentist will be the first to notice problems during a regular visit and recommend that you see an orthodontist (a dentist who specializes in correcting jaw and/or teeth alignment problems). The orthodontist can decide whether your child does indeed need braces and which devices would be best.

There's no set age for a child's first orthodontist visit — some kids go when they're 6, some kids go when they're 10, and some go while they're teens. Even adults can need orthodontic treatment. Many orthodontists say kids should see an orthodontist once their permanent teeth start coming in, around age 7. At this age, issues such as uneven bite and overcrowding will become apparent.

Starting the process early doesn't mean a child will get braces right away. It just means the orthodontist will be able to find problems and decide the best time to start treatment.

Type of Braces

Braces correct alignment problems by putting steady pressure on the teeth, which eventually moves them into a straighter position.

Most kids just need braces with wires and rubber bands. The wires help to move the teeth, and the rubber bands (which come in fun colors) help to correct alignment. Though metal braces are still used, so are clear or white ceramic braces, which are much less noticeable. Some even go behind the teeth (lingual braces).

In the last decade, clear removable braces that move teeth with plastic trays called aligners (rather than wires and rubber bands) have become available, but these are usually only for people without bite problems.

Some kids may need other devices, too, such as headgear (don't worry — this is usually worn only at night!). Headgear uses a horseshoe-shaped wire that attaches to the back teeth, pushing them back and allowing more room for teeth in the front of the mouth. The orthodontist also might recommend that your child have one or more teeth removed to create more space in his or her mouth.

Once the braces are on, your child will have to visit the orthodontist every few weeks for monitoring and adjustments.

How long your child will need to wear braces depends on the problems the orthodontist is trying to fix, but the average is about 2 years. After that, your child might wear a specially molded retainer — a small, hard piece of plastic with metal wires or a thin piece of plastic shaped like a mouthguard. Retainers keep the teeth from wandering back to their original places.





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