Brace Yourself! Does My Child Need Braces?

For some children, getting braces is something they actually look forward to. For other children, there is a lot of fear and concern.

Making the decision to get braces for your child can be especially difficult.  You may be concerned about whether your child really needs them, if they are ready for braces, and how to afford them. Hopefully this article will shed some light on your concerns.

Why Get Braces For Your Child

There are several reasons why your child may need braces. Their teeth could be crooked, overcrowded, overlapping or have a malocclusion (when the upper and lower jaws are different sizes, resulting in an overbite or underbite).  These jaw and tooth issues can be a result of an accident, early tooth loss, decay or even habits like thumb sucking.

Your dentist may recommend that you take your child to see an orthodontist at one of their regular dental visits.  The orthodontist can then decide a treatment plan. The age that this may happen can vary from 6 up to adulthood. Once permanent teeth come in, your dentist will be able to determine if there is a need for braces.

Going to the Orthodontist

The orthodontist will conduct exams that will asses the child’s bite and teeth. He or she may ask questions about popping jaws or problems with chewing and swallowing.  Impressions and x-rays may also be taken at this time. The orthodontist will then come up with a treatment plan that is right for your child.

Braces

Braces work by applying pressure on the teeth and moving them into a straighter position. You have choices when it comes to the type of braces used: metal braces, clear or white ceramic braces, and lingual braces that are attached behind the teeth. There are also clear removable braces that use plastic trays, but these are usually only used when there is no malocclusion present. Headgear may also need to be worn at night to push teeth back to make more room.

After the braces are applied, your child will need to go back often for adjustments and to monitor the progress. Only your orthodontist will be able to tell how long your child will need to wear their braces, but 2 years is the average. After the braces are removed, your child may need to wear a retainer.

How to Care For Braces

Your child will be given a special flosser to help keep the braces free of food that can easily get stuck in them. Flossing should be conducted daily if not several times a day. Regular dental visits should also be made for cleanings and to check for cavities. Foods that are hard and sticky should be avoided because they could damage the braces. If a bracket does become loose or a wire pops out of place, you should call your orthodontist immediately.

Can I Afford Braces

The average cost of braces is $5,000. It is possible that insurance will not cover this amount.  There are some ways to reduce the cost. Your dentist may be able to work with you to set up a payment plan. There are also state insurance companies that may be able to help you with the cost. Smiles Change Lives is a program that can get your child in braces for a drastically reduced amount. Your child must be between the ages of 11 and 18. Income and the condition of your child’s teeth will also determine eligibility.pediatric-dentistry-logo