There are several signs that your child may need braces, including crooked teeth, teeth that are overcrowded or overlapping, or teeth that don’t fit together properly (also known as malocclusion, or an overbite or underbite). If your child does need braces, your dentist is usually the first person to notice, and that can happen anytime between the ages of 6 and 10, as the child’s permanent begin coming in. Your dentist or orthodontist can help you decide what type of orthodontic appliance would be best for your child.

TYPE OF BRACES AVAILABLE FOR CHILDREN

There are several different types of orthodontic appliances available for children, all of which are designed to correct alignment problems with teeth. Not only do braces give your little one a straighter, more attractive smile, they also alleviate the pain and discomfort that often occurs with crooked or misaligned teeth.

Traditional braces consist of metal brackets that attach to the teeth and are connected by wire and rubber bands. Your dentist or orthodontist will tighten the wires periodically, as your child’s teeth slowly begin to move over a period of time. Although metal braces are the traditional choice, you can also choose clear or ceramic brackets, which make the braces less noticeable.

Your dentist or orthodontist may also recommend headgear that your child must wear at night. These appliances attach to the back teeth and provide a stronger means of moving teeth into straighter positions.

Over the past several years, plastic aligner trays have become a popular option to straighten teeth, primarily because they’re clear and virtually invisible. These trays are removable for eating meals and cleaning teeth, but your child needs to wear them at least 23 hours each day in order for the trays to be effective. Aligner trays are considered to be more comfortable than traditional braces and they do make it easier to keep teeth clean, but they may not be right for every child.

Although the amount of time necessary to straighten teeth varies greatly depending on the child, you can expect that it will typically require about 2 years. At the end of that time, your child may need to wear a retainer for a certain amount of time. These appliances are custom-made devices made of hard plastic and metal wires that are intended to prevent teeth from moving back to their original positions.

Whatever method you and your dentist or orthodontist decide is best for your child, one thing is certain: your little one will benefit in the long run from teeth-straightening devices. And if you start early enough, your child will be able to enjoy his or her teenage years with a straighter smile that’s free from braces!

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