Many parents will at some time in their lives need to consider braces for their child or children, which always comes with a myriad of questions about the treatment. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions orthodontists get from parents about braces.
Q: What causes crooked teeth?
A: There are a few factors that can cause crooked teeth. A misaligned jaw can cause the mouth to close incorrectly. Malocclusion is a genetic condition that causes teeth to become crowded, crooked or protruding. Additionally, habits like sucking one’s thumb can cause crowded teeth. An improper bite can interfere with chewing and speaking, cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, and lead to problems with the jaw.
Q: When should I take my child to get braces?
A: It is recommended that children be screened by an orthodontist either at the first sign of an orthodontic problem or by age 7 to catch any issues before they become bigger ones. At 7, a child’s face and mouth are still growing, making the teeth and jaw easier to adjust. The best age for braces is specific to the individual, so talk to the child’s orthodontist about the best plan of action. Early treatment is key and a referral to an orthodontist is not required.
Q: Why would my child need braces?
A: Sometimes crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw are genetic, while other times they develop from habits or accidents. Braces correct the appearance of teeth, but also improve chewing and speaking abilities when teeth create other problems. Early treatment helps achieve facial balance by ensuring healthy growth patterns of the facial and jaw bones as well as adequate spacing for incoming adult teeth.
Q: How long will my child have braces? How long do braces last?
A: Over and under-bites generally take longer to correct than straightening crooked teeth. The child’s orthodontist will be able to give an accurate time frame. Most people, on average, need to wear braces for one to three years.
Q: How have braces evolved?
A: In years past, orthodontics involved more bands and just the process of fitting and pushing the bands in between teeth to get them on was uncomfortable. Not to mention, oversized brackets, which are glued to the front of the teeth. Traditional metal brackets are much smaller these days and there are now cosmetic options – including ceramic brackets, braces that can be applied to the back of the teeth, and clear aligners. Thanks to NASA, new metals that are heat activated were discovered and are used as thin arch wires that require fewer adjustments and less discomfort than ever before.
Q: How can parents or caregivers reduce a child’s fear or anxiety about braces?
A: Despite advances, often youth still are afraid when it comes to braces. Have a conversation with the orthodontist together as there are often treatments that can be adapted based on the child’s level of discomfort or fear. Also, encourage strength in numbers by suggesting the child bring a friend or loved one – maybe grandma or grandpa – to join them at the appointment. Music is also helpful. Encourage them to bring in earbuds and music they like so they can tune out some of the dental noises happening around them.
Q: How much do braces cost?
A: The cost of straightening a child or teen’s teeth depends on the method chosen and length of the treatment and aftercare plan. On average, metal or ceramic braces range from $3,000 to $8,000.