If you’ve been told that your child needs braces – either now or in the near future – you’ve probably got a lot of questions: What treatment options are out there? How much will they cost? How long will your child have to wear them, and what exactly will the treatments entail? How will they impact your child’s quality of life, and is it worth going through the whole ordeal?
It is quite likely that your child will be reluctant to have braces – both because of the physical discomfort and self-consciousness that come from wearing them. The better you understand all the treatment options and the necessity for them, the better you can explain it to your child in a way that will stick, and the more comfortable you both will be with the process.
Below is a breakdown of all the things you’ll need to consider when deciding whether or not to get braces for your kids. Use it as a guide when you talk to them and their orthodontist.
Things to Consider
If you’ve been told that your child needs braces, don’t let yourself be intimidated by common stereotypes or misconceptions. Below, we discuss a few factors that will help you to have an informed conversation with your child and their orthodontist, so you both know exactly what you’re getting into.
1. The Goal of Treatment
The first thing you’ll want to talk about with your child and their orthodontist is the goals of treatment. This is a discussion where the doctor will lay out the reasons why braces are needed and will explain how they fix the issues. The orthodontist will also set benchmarks to reassess your child’s progress, so this will be something of an ongoing discussion.
It is important that your child takes an active part in this conversation since they are ones who actually will be going through it. It is critical for everyone to be on the same page about what results will be achieved and what to expect in order for a successful braces experience to happen.
2. Overall Health
One of the biggest considerations for your child’s orthodontist will be their overall health and the shape and anatomy of your child’s mouth. These factors will decide what type of braces you child should use, how long they should be on, and if any other orthodontic interventions will be necessary.
There’s a reason that your dentist has recommended that you get your child braces while they are still young. Adults who need braces face more health complications than kids and teens, such as issues with a tooth’s blood supply and bone loss in the jaw.
Young bone is still growing, which makes it softer and easier to reshape than adult bone. When an adult undergoes these procedures, the braces will only be more painful and will have to be worn longer.
Your child’s oral health is another main factor. Issues like plaque buildup, cavities, gum disease, rotten teeth, chipped or cracked teeth, and lingering baby teeth will all need to be taken into account. Often, more severe issues will need to be fixed before your child can start with the braces.
The orthodontist may also say that your child will need to have some teeth extracted before the braces can go on. This can happen for many reasons, such as when a tooth has or looks like it will become impacted, when the jaw is too crowded with teeth, when there are lingering baby teeth, or when teeth are coming in at unfixable angles.
As unpleasant as these might be for your child, you should have them addressed as soon as possible.
3. Style of Braces
Your child’s orthodontist will probably make some recommendations based on your child’s health, lifestyle, and your budget. Most orthodontists lean towards conventional braces, but there are other options out there.
– Traditional or Conventional Braces
Conventional braces are the familiar, wire and bracket braces that most people associate with the word. They are what pediatric orthodontists most often recommend, as they are the cheapest and quickest method. They are also easy to adjust and repair, which children often require over the course of their treatment.
Lingual braces are exactly like conventional braces, except that all the wires and brackets are fixed to the back of the teeth, so they are completely unnoticeable. However, lingual braces are expensive, harder to clean, and can have a greater impact on your child’s speech. They are also harder to repair and adjust, should they break or become misaligned.
-Invisible Aligners (AKA Invisalign)
These are clear braces that come in a series of gradually changing mouthpieces that change as the teeth shift. As with a retainer, they are removable and invisible, and because of this, they tend to be favored over conventional braces.
However, invisible aligners are the most expensive type of braces and are not often recommended to children, who are most likely to lose them.
When you and your child sit down with the orthodontist to discuss the treatment options, it is important that everyone understands exactly what needs to happen in order for the treatment to be successful. That means both you and your child need to come to an understanding of various factors, including:
- What foods they’ll have to avoid
- How the braces should be cleaned
- How long they’ll have to stay on
- How the rubber bands need to be worn
- How often the brackets need to be tightened
While this may seem like a lot of information to keep in mind, having this conversation will give your child something to look forward to. It will give them an approximate date of when they will have a straight smile and no more braces.
This is also the time to talk about what needs to happen in the long-term – what will need to be done when the braces come off, such as nightly or permeant retainers.
By going through this guide with your child, you can prepare them for the orthodontist visit and set them up to have the best experience possible when getting braces.