Wellness

Dental Braces for Kids: 6 Things Parents Should Know

Young child with braces in dental chair getting a check-up.

Teenagers and braces seem to go together. As their teeth develop, some may come in crooked, causing overcrowding and bite problems. Historically, orthodontists have waited to treat these issues with dental braces or removable appliances until the teenage years when teeth and mouths are mostly developed. However, dentists and orthodontists now are starting to make corrections when kids are younger to help head off some of these problems. Here are six things parents should know about dental braces for kids.

  1. Tailored treatment

    If kids’ teeth are crooked or overlap, dentists recommend orthodontics (or braces) designed to straighten teeth and improve smiles. Braces also help correct kids’ bites so they can chew foods correctly. Common bite problems are underbites, overbites, crossbites and misaligned jaws. Orthodontia techniques are not a one-size-fits-all treatment method. Dentists can tailor braces to fit each patient’s needs, impacting the length of treatment and cost.

  1. Start early

    During kids’ regular dental appointments for a checkup and professional cleaning, the dentist may identify early signs of tooth and bite problems. Parents should contact an orthodontist to check on early treatment options to minimize future problems.

    For example, the orthodontist can work on fixing teeth with excessive overcrowding or gaps. It’s possible to correct some teeth and bite problems as early as age 7. Sometimes by age 10, orthodontists can start fixing overbites, where the top teeth protrude out over the bottom teeth.

    Treatment options to correct bite problems may include hooking rubber bands on metal squares attached to teeth. Or, for kids with smaller mouths, the dentist can insert a palate expander to make room for adult teeth.

    However, some problems require waiting until the teenage years when the adult teeth are in place. Often, overcrowding or gaps improve as adult teeth fill in.

  1. Style matters

    Dental technology has improved the look of today’s braces, making them more attractive for teens. Instead of clunky metal mouths, now metal braces are small and streamlined. There also are braces made of clear or ceramic materials. Some designs are available in the shapes of footballs, stars, hearts or baseballs.

  1. Costs vary

    The cost for kids’ braces can vary based on the treatment, style chosen and the location of the provider. For example, an orthodontist in a large, popular city may charge more than an orthodontist in a neighboring suburb. Here are four options and cost ranges for traditional metal, ceramic, lingual and clear braces. Dental insurance companies generally provide a one-time, set coverage amount for orthodontia treatment lasting up to two years. Review coverage options available with Ameritas dental.

  1. Treatment

    Straightening teeth and fixing bites can take time. On average, treatments last one to three years. The orthodontist will develop a treatment plan and update it as tooth and mouth problems improve. Kids need to attend all of the scheduled appointments to ensure necessary adjustments and corrections are made and to prevent any additional problems.

  1. Care

    While kids and teens are undergoing treatment, the orthodontist will teach them how to take care of their teeth. These tips include brushing gently twice a day and using special flossers to clean around braces. It’s also essential to visit the dentist regularly for a professional teeth cleaning and exam to ensure dental materials remain in good shape. With braces or any mouth appliance, kids should eat soft, non-sticky foods that are easy to chew. Protect teeth and braces by avoiding hard or sticky candies, nuts, gum and popcorn.

Dental insurance is a popular benefit. But choosing the right dental insurance plan can be confusing. However, it doesn’t have to be. Review these eight tips to find the coverage that fits your needs.

Sources:
Scholastic
R4 DN
NY Metro Parents
Colgate