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Does your child need braces? Here’s how to tell

Published: Feb 11, 2023 Last Updated: Dec 13, 2023
a little boy who may need braces

Braces are devices which are used to correct alignment issues of upper and lower teeth in children and adults. By putting pressure on teeth which makes them move in the required direction, braces accomplish desired results. Braces generally consist of wires, rubber bands and brackets. Brackets are attached to the teeth and connected with special parts. Wires are pulled with pressure of rubber bands.

There are several ways in which the dentist manipulates the parts of brackets to move the teeth as desired and correct many misalignment and crowded teeth.

Why do children need braces?

Children need braces for many reasons, the main one among them being crooked teeth. Some children have overlapping teeth or teeth which fight for space and look crowded. Some children have teeth which do not fall over each other in perfect alignment and gives them a bad bite. When upper jaw is bigger than lower jaw it is called overbite and when lower jaw is bigger than upper jaw it is referred to as an underbite. Some children also require braces because their teeth protrude due to thumb sucking.

What are the signs that tell you your child needs braces?

When children are growing up it is important to look for signs of dental misalignment or other issues that may need to be corrected.

Early visit to the dentist

Take note of the growing teeth and assess whether they are growing normally. As soon as first teeth cut through, you need to take the baby to the dentist. It will create a bond between the dentist and the child and help make future visits pleasant. Regular visit to the dentist will ensure that the child is observed by trained people and any anomaly in the growing teeth can be corrected in time.

Look for signs of crowded or misaligned teeth and speak about it with your dentist.

Timing of loss of baby teeth

When the baby has lost the baby teeth too early, then it may be reason enough to get it checked. Permanent teeth can erupt crowded and grow on top of one another because there was not enough time to make space for all teeth. When baby teeth take too long to fall, new teeth may find it difficult to fit in the available space and can erupt one in front of the other.

If you find your child struggling with chewing normal food, talk to your dentist about it. Refusal or hesitancy in accepting certain foods is a sign that the child finds these foods difficult to chew or bite into.

Although teeth are not a part of the breathing apparatus, they can obstruct the tongue in such a way that breathing becomes laboured. Breathing can be hindered by irregular teeth. When you find your child having difficulty in breathing, it can be because of irregularity of teeth. Braces can overcome this problem.

Thumb sucking

Thumb or finger sucking is normal for children and most children get over this habit by 1 year of age. But if for whatever reason, your child continues to suck his/her thumb well after 3 years, when all temporary teeth have erupted, it becomes cause of concern. The constant pressure from the thumb may push teeth outward and causes misalignment with the lower jaw leading to poor bite.

Misaligned or protruding teeth can be inherited as well. Regardless of the reason, it is important to correct the issue at the appropriate time.

Biting the roof of the mouth or inner cheeks

When your child has crooked teeth, they may bite their cheek inadvertently while chewing because the molars are not aligned properly. When two sets of teeth meet at a strange angle, the lips or the cheeks often get bitten. Frequent cheek bites could be a clear sign that there is malalignment. Disproportionate jaws in relation to face also is a sign that child needs braces to get them corrected.

What is an appropriate age for braces?

Usually, braces are put on the teeth after the child has gotten the entire set of teeth and the gums and jaws have grown fully. Most dentists prefer to start the treatment somewhere between 12 and 16 years of age. But there are individual differences in the rate of growth and it will be decided by the discussion with your family physician and the dentist.

The dentist will start the treatment after a complete examination of your child’s health, mouth, jaw and teeth.  A set of questions about his chewing and biting habits will be asked. An impression of his bite will be taken on a clay model and x rays or complete 3D impression will be taken digitally.

All these tests will help your dentist decide whether braces are the best option of any other treatment is required.

MP Orthodontics is an orthodontic practice based in Cheltenham, Melbourne. Working from the belief that orthodontic treatment is much more than working with teeth and creating smiles, treating orthodontists – Dr Martin Poon and Dr Geoff Hall – approach patients as people first. Their approach is to work together and plan and implement treatment that meets each individual’s needs. Drawing on 30 plus years experience of helping children gain confidence through tailored treatment, MP Orthodontics, is a truly unique orthodontic practice.

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