Orthodontic Treatment Options for Kids
An orthodontist is a little different to a regular dentist. This is because they specialize in the diagnosis, management and treatment of problems with the alignment of the teeth and positioning of the jaws. There is no set age that a child will be referred to see an orthodontist, but chances are that your little one will be recommended to have an orthodontic consultation at some point during her childhood. In fact, most dentists suggest that kids should see an orthodontist once their permanent teeth start coming through. This is because very few people are fortunate enough to have straight teeth and perfectly matched jaw sizes.
Orthodontic treatment is about more than just straightening your teeth, although that certain factors into the process. There are actually a variety of different problems that mean that your child is likely to benefit from seeing an orthodontist and having some form of treatment. These include:
Too much space between their teeth
Crooked, twisted or overlapping teeth
Uneven wear on the teeth
Bite problems, including an overbite, underbite, crossbite or open bite
It is important to address these issues since the repercussions of them are not just cosmetic. Many people who have orthodontic problems will go on to find that their oral health suffers as a result. For example, people with badly aligned teeth are more likely to suffer from decay and gum disease as their teeth are much harder to clean. In some cases, abnormal development of the teeth and jaw can also affect face shape.
Orthodontic treatment typically begins somewhere between the ages of 9 and 14, but exactly when will depend on your child’s growth rate and his orthodontic needs.
The good news is that there is a range of different orthodontic treatment options, meaning that there is almost certainly a solution for every child irrespective of the issues that they are experiencing. Some of the most commonly recommended treatment include the following:
The most well-known form of orthodontic treatment, braces apply consistent but gentle force to the teeth and jaws to move them into an improved position. They do this through a series of metal brackets and wires that are placed onto the teeth and tightened using elastics. Although they are much more discreet than they used to be, many patients still feel self-conscious when wearing braces. There are also compromises that must be made since certain foods, including those that are sticky, chewy, hard or that break up into lots of small pieces, are off-limits since they could damage your brace. As you might expect, cleaning your teeth is fairly tricky too since the brace is permanent and you will have to negotiate your way around the brackets and wires.
Ceramic braces are just like conventional braces in their design. However, the components are made from clear or tooth-colored material which make them much more discreet than all-metal varieties.
Invisalign is a popular alternative to braces since it eliminates many of the compromises and difficulties faced by the traditional solution. Invisalign uses a series of custom-designed plastic aligners placed over the top of your teeth to apply gentle pressure to them to guide them into their new position. These aligners are made from clear, soft plastic, making them virtually invisible once in place. They are removable, making it easy for your child to clean them and the teeth beneath, and your child can take them out for eating, enabling her to enjoy whatever foods she likes without compromise.
Each aligner must be worn for at least 22 hours each day, and the series must be worn in order for the treatment to be effective. This is a significant commitment for any child, but if she sticks to the treatment plan, the treatment is generally considered less invasive and just as successful as braces, without the compromises.
If Invisalign isn’t quite right for your child, there are a number of similar alternatives available.