Children can need braces for a variety of different reasons. Crooked teeth, overlapping and overcrowding are some of the most common orthodontic issues. However, many kids who get braces also have what is referred to as a ‘bad bite’. A bad bite, also known as malocclusion, occurs when there’s a difference in the sizes of the upper and lower jaws. When the upper jaw is bigger it’s known as an overbite, while if the lower jaw is bigger it’s known as an underbite. Misalignment and bite problems might not sound serious, but over time they can lead to a range of problems, including uneven wear on the teeth, increased risk of gum disease and issues with the temporomandibular joint. Fortunately, orthodontists can use braces to correct dental misalignment and eliminate any symptoms that you may have been experiencing.
There are several different types of braces now available, but by far the most common type is traditional metal braces. These comprise of brackets which are glued onto each tooth, and an arch wire that runs through the brackets, holding the teeth together and pulling them into their new and improved position. Metal braces are often used with rubber bands that link the brackets to the wires. These bands are used to create more force to adjust the jaw position as well as the teeth. Modern metal braces can often be customized, with patients able to choose different color brackets to reflect their personal style. You can also get braces where the brackets are made from tooth-colored ceramic, which makes them less noticeable on the teeth. However, ceramic braces are usually more expensive than metal varieties.
In addition to the conventional style of braces, patients can also usually choose lingual braces, which are attached to the backs of the teeth facing the tongue and are therefore harder to see, and clear aligners. Aligners are worn over the teeth and apply force to move them into a new and improved position.
Patients with orthodontic issues can often benefit from treatment at virtually any age. However, experts agree that the ideal time to have a brace fitted is between the ages of 10 and 14. This is because at this time, your child’s head and mouth should still be growing, and this makes their teeth more conducive to the straightening process. For this reason, most dentists will refer children for an orthodontic assessment around the age of 7/8 years old, as at this time, an orthodontist will be able to tell whether intervention to correct misalignment issues is going to be necessary. They will then also be able to make a recommendation as to when your child is likely to need to start orthodontic treatment. While adults can have orthodontic treatment in the form of braces, the process is likely to take longer as they are no longer growing.
If you would like more information about braces, including finding out about the best age for this transformative dental treatment, please call (562) 396-9820 to speak to our expert dental team.