Braces are a common and effective orthodontic treatment for straightening and aligning teeth in both kids and adults. In this post we’ll discuss the advantages of braces, options, and what you can expect from the procedure.
Benefits of braces
Braces help with a variety of bite issues in children, including:
- Crooked teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Gapped teeth
Fixing these problems provides a number of benefits. It doesn't just give your child a more beautiful smile, but it also helps to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health conditions. It’s also much easier to brush and floss when teeth are aligned.
Types of braces
When opting for orthodontics for your child, there are different types of braces to choose from:
- Metal braces: Stainless steel bands, brackets and wires that shift teeth into the desired position over time.
- Ceramic braces: Similar to metal braces, but with tooth-colored brackets and wires to blend in better.
- Lingual braces: Similar to metal braces, but they go on the back surfaces of the teeth instead of the front.
- Self-litigating braces: Similar to metal braces, but hold archwire together without the elastic bands.
- Clear aligners: A series of clear, custom-made trays swapped out every two weeks to straighten teeth over time.
When is the right time to get my child braces?
While in theory, a person is never too old to get braces, the best time is typically between ages nine and 14. At this age, your child’s facial bones are more flexible, meaning teeth shift more easily into their desired position.
Braces are still effective for adults, but since their bones are less malleable, it may take longer to achieve results.
How braces work
- Initial consultation. Your child’s dentist will refer you to an orthodontist, who will examine the teeth and discuss the child’s oral health history at the first appointment. They will recommend a course of treatment—if braces are determined to be the best option, you'll work with the orthodontist to decide the type of braces and duration of treatment.
- Braces are fitted. Teeth are cleaned, dried and primed; then brackets are cemented to tooth surfaces, with high-intensity light used to strengthen the bond. Finally, the arch wires are placed.
- Regular visits to get braces adjusted. The orthodontist will also have a cadence in place for returning to have the braces adjusted. At these appointments, the arch wires and elastic bands are removed and replaced with new ones. Your child may have some soreness for up to 24 hours following an adjustment.
- Braces are removed. When teeth have been appropriately repositioned, the braces will be removed. Ties and wires are taken off first, then the bonding cement is gently broken with pressure and a special tool. The gums may be inflamed immediately following removal but should subside within a day or two.
- Maintain a beautiful smile with a retainer. You’ll have to visit the orthodontist for a couple of follow-up appointments to get a retainer made for your child. To ensure the results of the braces last, your child should wear the retainer at night and as recommended.
Side effects of braces
Although braces are proven to be an effective approach for fixing a person’s smile, your child may experience some temporary side effects, including:
- Irritation on the inside of the mouth
- Difficulty eating
- Jaw pain
In time, these should subside; however, if you have any concerns contact the orthodontist right away.
Caring for braces
For the braces to have the best impact, your child will need to:
- Brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash daily
- Clean and store clear aligners
- Avoid sticky and hard foods
- Visit orthodontist as scheduled for maintenance
- Visit dentist for regular cleanings and exams
The length of time your child will have to wear braces will depend on the severity of the problem you’re trying to fix, as well as their own dental health. Typically, kids wear braces for between one and three years.
How to pay for braces
The total cost of braces is anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the type and duration of treatment, as well as where you live.
Most dental insurance plans partially cover braces for children under the age of 18. While the most common coverage is 50%, it’s important to check your policy details before starting the treatment process. If your plan doesn’t include orthodontic coverage, look into supplemental orthodontic insurance.
Find the best no-wait dental and orthodontic insurance plan from Spirit Dental to ensure your child’s smile stays beautiful and healthy for a lifetime.