Helping Your Child Grow into Their Smile
Braces are used to straighten smiles and help your child’s mouth to develop in a healthy manner. While most people are aware of the cosmetic effect, this orthodontic treatment also offers long-term benefits to oral health. When teeth are properly aligned, biting pressure is distributed evenly, making it easier for teeth to handle to stress of chewing. Plus, an aligned bite keeps teeth from wearing down in irregular patterns and results in easier brushing and flossing.
The Importance of an Aligned Bite
Many people believe that a well-aligned bite offers benefits that are purely cosmetic. While it’s certainly true that straight teeth improve appearances, a well-aligned bite improves the function of your child’s teeth.
Teeth that aren’t properly aligned tend to wear down unevenly, due to excess pressure. In addition, it’s trickier to keep a misaligned smile clean, since overlapping or crooked teeth are more difficult to floss.
It’s important to note that cosmetic benefits do have merit. If your child feels confident in his or her teeth, they will feel more comfortable sharing their smile with others.
When Should Your Child First See an Orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their initial orthodontic visit by the time they turn 7. But don’t worry, we aren’t going to put braces on your 7-year-old!
The reason for the early assessment is that this is when adult teeth begin to emerge. By this time, we can see your child’s front teeth, and typically their first set of adult molars, which are sometimes called “six-year molars.” Based on this, orthodontists can predict how your child’s bite will form. The orthodontist can also put practices in place that can eliminate the need for braces later in life.
Two Phases of Orthodontic Treatment
If your child is an existing patient at Sunshine Kids Dental & Orthodontics, our dentists will be able to monitor their teeth and recommend when it’s time to see the in-house orthodontist. For new patients, we usually will start with a free orthodontic consultation to discuss a treatment plan. In many cases there will be two phases of treatment.
Depending on the case, we will recommend a treatment plan for children aged 7-10. This is called “phase 1 treatment,” and usually involves using a retainer, palatal expander, partial braces, a space maintainer or a combination. Then, we will monitor your child’s teeth periodically to determine whether braces will be needed down the road.
If it turns out your child doesn’t require any kind of orthodontic treatment, we will do a follow-up check in 6-12 months. If your child does end up needed braces, those usually go on between the ages of 11 and 14. Braces are considered a “phase 2 treatment.” Learn more about braces.