Braces for Children / Teens
What causes misalignment of teeth?
Poorly aligned teeth often cause problems speaking, biting and chewing. Most irregularities are genetic or occur as a result of developmental issues.
Conversely, some irregularities are acquired or greatly exacerbated by certain habits and behaviors such as:
Thumb or finger sucking
Prolonged pacifier use
Poor oral hygiene
Many children are ambivalent about getting braces. On the one hand, they like the idea of perfect teeth, but on the other hand, they are nervous about whether the braces will cause pain and discomfort.
The good news is that any discomfort experienced is only mild and temporary. The mouth quickly adapts to the braces.
Although patients of any age can benefit from orthodontic braces, they tend to be more effective on pre-teens and teenagers since they are still experiencing jaw growth.
It is recommended that children should first see an orthodontist around the age of seven. An orthodontic examination may be beneficial before age seven if facial or oral irregularities are noted.
Main types of orthodontic appliances for children
Braces comprise of brackets which are affixed to each individual tooth, and an arch wire which connects the brackets.
Brackets are usually made of metal or ceramic material which is less noticeable to the naked eye.
Once braces have been applied the child will have regular appointments to have them adjusted by the orthodontist.
Orthodontic elastic bands are often added to the braces to aid in the movement of specific teeth.
This type of appliance is most useful to treat developmental irregularities. A headgear is a custom-made appliance which attaches to the brackets, it is used to aid tooth movement.
To achieve the best results headgear should be worn for at least 12 hours a day or as prescribed by the Orthodontist.
Retainers are typically utilised in the third phase (retention phase).
When the original malocclusion has been treated with braces, it is essential that the teeth do not regress back to the original misalignment.
Wearing a retainer ensures the teeth maintain their proper alignment, and gives the jawbone around the teeth a chance to stabilise.