7 Things to Know if Your Child Needs Braces

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At some point during your child’s dental visits, the dentist might recommend that your child gets braces. Often, this is more about a health and wellbeing issue than it is for aesthetics. 

Having functional teeth and supporting your child’s health is more important than getting them a straight smile. However, the journey of braces can be challenging, especially if you haven’t dealt with it as a parent before. 

If your child is about to get braces and start orthodontic treatment, it’s helpful to be informed about the process. Here are seven things to know if your child needs braces.

1. Why They Need Braces

The first thing you should know if your child needs braces is why they need braces. Usually, a dentist or an orthodontist will take x-rays and examine your child’s teeth at an appointment and determine whether they need braces. 

Kids can need braces for various reasons, like overlapping, overcrowded or crooked teeth, as well as a bad bite. Other times, they may have tooth or jaw problems caused by thumb sucking, accidents or even genetics. An orthodontist can help you pinpoint why your child might need braces and decide the best time to start the treatment.

2. Types of Braces

Besides knowing why your child needs braces, you should also know that there are different types of braces. Most of the time, children will need braces with brackets, rubber bands and wires. The orthodontist attaches brackets to the teeth, which connect through a series of wires and rubber bands. 

Traditionally, metal braces are used. However, there are clear, white and ceramic braces, which are less noticeable. Additionally, there are clear removable braces with plastic aligner trays. Further, if your child needs extensive care, they may need headgear worn at night to provide a stronger force to move the teeth. 

3. Cost of Braces

Braces can do wonders for your child’s oral health and confidence. Straight, aligned teeth allow them to chew food more easily and even talk. However, the cost of braces can be an issue for some families, especially if you don’t have dental coverage or if you have multiple children needing orthodontic care. 

On average, braces cost about $6,000, and even if you have insurance, it may not cover the total cost. There are ways to reduce costs, though, through programs like Smiles Change Lives. Additionally, you could source money from organizations in your community or opt to have your child receive care from a dental school student.

4. Choosing the Right Orthodontist

Another thing to consider if your child needs braces is choosing the right orthodontist. You’ll likely be with that same orthodontist for many years because they know your child’s mouth and teeth best. Besides that, it can be time-consuming and costly to continue switching between orthodontists. 

You should start with consultations between each orthodontist option. This will help you familiarize yourself with your options and get your questions about braces answered. Consultations also allow you to tour the office and meet other team members so you know who is involved in your child’s care.

5. Caring for Braces

Once your child gets braces, you’ll need to know how to care for them. Treatment is different for each case. Everyone’s mouth structure is different, so even if you have had a child with braces before, another child likely won’t have the same care routine. 

Your child should still keep up with routine teeth cleaning, meaning brushing their teeth and visiting the dentist or going to follow-up appointments with the orthodontist. Your child may have to work harder, like brushing their teeth after each meal and flossing every day. If there’s a loose bracket or wire, see the orthodontist right away. Additionally, your child will need to avoid certain foods, like popcorn, gum and sticky candy.

6. Wearing a Retainer

Part of the aftercare of getting the braces off is wearing a retainer. Treatment doesn’t stop after the braces come off, so the orthodontist will produce a set of retainers, using a mold, that fit your child’s teeth. The type of retainer needed depends on the treatment plan.

A retainer helps the newly straightened and positioned teeth from moving back to their original positions. It’s essential to ensure that your child is wearing the retainer daily so they can keep a healthy dental structure. 

7. Discomfort Relief

Finally, you should be aware of discomfort relief options for your child. The process of getting braces put on shouldn’t be too painful. However, your orthodontist will likely prescribe some over-the-counter pain medication and orthodontic wax to reduce any discomfort or pain. 

For the first few days after getting braces, your child should eat softer foods. Often, the pain will come from the braces rubbing against your child’s gums. If the pain becomes too intense, you may need to go to the orthodontist because a bracket or archwire may have come loose. 

Making the Braces Journey a Bit Easier

Knowing what to expect before your child gets braces can make the process a bit easier. The best outcome of braces is a healthy smile for your kid.

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