Childhood is a pivotal time for oral health, and it’s a time when lots of changes are occurring. Teeth are getting lost, new teeth are growing in, and during this time of change, it’s possible for something to fall out of place.
Misalignment is a common byproduct of getting into your teens, and for kids, it can make for a mouth that looks a little bit less than perfect. The good news is that there are ways you can ensure that your child has a healthy smile — even as a small child.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting braces for kids.
A healthy mouth is an important part of a child’s overall wellness, and while proper oral hygiene is often taught from a young age, it can be difficult to preach dental practices on a regular basis for younger children.
But even if you make sure your child flosses, brushes, and does everything they need in order to maintain proper oral health, crooked teeth can still rear their unsightly heads.
There are a few reasons why children have crooked teeth:
The main reason, by far, is just genetics. If the size of a child’s mouth is not fit for all of their adult teeth, new teeth will naturally grow crooked after they lose their baby teeth. For example, if a mother has large teeth and the father has a smaller mouth, these can combine and make it harder for teeth to grow properly.
Additionally, some young children run into a problem called tongue thrusting. This occurs when a child improperly swallows, pressing the tongue too far forward in their mouth. This can not only affect a child’s bite but also push their baby teeth forward. This results in an “open bite,” where the front teeth don’t meet when the mouth is fully closed.
Also, a rare phenomenon known as a mesiodens tooth, or an extra tooth, can develop. Usually, this tooth forms in between the top two teeth and can cause developmental issues with the other teeth. This tooth needs to be extracted, which can cause gaps and changes in alignment.
But children are also subject to some of the same things as adults that might cause them to need braces. Physical trauma to the teeth from playing sports, cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues can affect the spacing and crowding of teeth, which might lead to a child needing braces.
Braces are commonly used to help straighten crooked teeth, and they are one of the most common alignment treatments in children. Braces are metal brackets that are placed on the front of the teeth to help shift teeth within the mouth. Modern-day braces are much smaller than they used to be and can work even faster than they once did.
Braces put constant pressure on your teeth to gently move them throughout the gums into the perfect position. These braces are tightened every few weeks by an orthodontist to gradually get your teeth exactly where they should go.
Most people need to wear braces for about two years, but some kids might be able to wear them for a shorter period. After braces come off, your child should maintain their alignment by regularly wearing their retainer at night.
During the first appointment, an orthodontist will take a mold of your child’s teeth using a 3D scanner or an impression kit. This will help them understand how the braces need to be placed and the size of their mouth. With this knowledge, orthodontists can figure out the perfect position for the teeth to end.
Once it comes time to actually place the braces, the orthodontist will start by cleaning the teeth with a special paste or polisher. This helps prevent tooth decay underneath the surface of the braces over time. Then, the teeth need to be dried before the brackets can be placed.
A sticky material, often called glue or cement, is then placed in the center of each tooth. The bracket is placed over top until it sticks. They might shine a special light over the glue, which causes it to harden, keeping the bracket in place.
Next, the orthodontist will anchor the braces to your teeth with a metal band that is slid over your molars. This helps ensure that the braces are firmly fixed to your teeth.
Finally, wires are wrapped around each bracket with a rubber band. Your child can choose the color of the band that they want, or they can choose a clear band to make them less visible. Either way, the orthodontist will make some adjustments before finishing up.
Let your child know that this is now the time to let their dentist know if there is any discomfort that they’re feeling with their braces. While soreness will be normal for the first few days after braces are placed or tightened, they should not feel the brackets cutting into their gums or any other painful sensations.
The cost of braces is dependent on the geographical location and the degree of braces that your kid needs. On average, most people can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 for a full set of kid or adult braces. That’s a lot of money out of pocket.
While many people with insurance think that their braces will be covered, most private dental plans consider braces to be a cosmetic treatment that does not prevent or treat an oral health disease. For that reason, they are often reluctant to provide coverage for braces or other alignment treatments. That means you might be stuck finding another financing option.
Don’t pay more than you need to. Flossy is a pay-as-you-go dental service that can save you up to 50% on common dental treatments without insurance. From braces to whitening, from routine cleanings to root canals, we’ve got some of the lowest out-of-pocket prices on the market.
No membership fees. No monthly dues. The price you see is the price you pay for your care. Sign up for appointments right within the smartphone app, and get access to care right away without needing to deal with a waiting period.
The dentists in our network are also vetted against a set of rigorous criteria, so you’ll know that you’re being treated by a professional with experience, excellent patient reviews, and a license from an accredited dental program.
So don’t pay more than you need to for your child’s braces, especially when insurance won’t be able to help. Sign up today and locate a dentist in your city right away.
Flossy can save you up to 50% on braces for your children, but it’s not the only option to help save money if you don’t have insurance coverage.
Another popular method is by going to a dental school. All those talented orthodontists with their own practice had to start somewhere, and dental schools give them real-world experience. Students training to be an orthodontist are closely supervised despite being amateurs, so you can have confidence in their care.
You can also ask your orthodontist if they offer payment plans. Some dentists will allow you to repay for services over a long period of time without interest rates, breaking giant sums of cash into more manageable, bite-sized pieces that you pay over months.
Invisible aligners have become a common alternative to braces for people who want straighter teeth in a more subtle, nearly invisible way. Clear aligners are basically translucent trays that go over your teeth (like retainers). These aligners progressively re-align your teeth as you swap them out for different aligners.
Children might benefit from clear aligners because they offer a little bit of flexibility. Aligners can be removed whenever and should be removed when eating or drinking anything besides water. Plus, they are not noticeable, so children who are self-conscious about the idea of wearing braces might find this to be more enticing.
The downside is that since these offer flexibility, it will take some effort on your end to double-check that your child is wearing their aligners properly. You’ll need to ensure they do not lose their aligners and remember to put them back in after removing them for meals. There is more room for error when it comes to aligners over braces.
If your child gets braces, there are a few things that must happen so that the investment is worth it and that the procedure works out as it should. One of the toughest adjustments to make when getting braces is eliminating certain foods.
Crunchy foods spell bad news for the brackets on your teeth and can actually make them pop off. Sticky foods can adhere to your brackets and be impossible to clean, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay while also affecting the way the braces work.
Foods to avoid when wearing braces include:
Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that your child wears their retainer once the braces come off. Otherwise, they risk their teeth shifting back into their original position.
Think of it this way: braces hold your teeth together for months without your gums or jaw needing to do any work. Retainers ensure that weakened gums and jawbones don’t cause the teeth to shift back into their original position.
Children often suffer from crooked teeth for a wide range of factors, but the welcome news is that braces are an effective way to fix it. Braces straighten the teeth and help fix overbites, underbites, and other forms of malocclusion.
The issue is that braces are often not covered by most insurance plans, so parents are stuck paying out of pocket for their child’s oral health care. But even without insurance, you can save on your next oral treatment.
Flossy is a pay-as-you-go service where you only pay for the treatments you receive. From braces to aligners, from routine cleanings to extractions, you can save up to 50% on common dental treatments – no insurance required.
Get started today with the Flossy App and get the oral health treatment that you’ve been waiting for.
Braces | MouthHealthy - Oral Health Information from the ADA
Tooth Decay | National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Diagnosis and Management of Supernumerary (Mesiodens): A Review of the Literature | PMC