Children and Orthodontics
Can a dentist provide orthodontic treatment instead of an orthodontist?
For mild problems, a dentist may be able to correct the issue. But, if more extensive orthodontic work is needed, it is best to see an orthodontist. An orthodontist has two to three years of advanced orthodontic education and training beyond dental school. He or she specializes in straightening teeth, correcting misaligned bites, and jaw problems.
When should my child see an orthodontist?
Your dentist can tell you when to seek evaluation from an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association recommend all kids be evaluated for orthodontics by age 7.
By this age, the orthodontist can detect subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth. Most kids begin active treatment between the ages of 9 and 14.
Orthodontists recommend you correct dental problems while your child is still growing. Once they stop growing, treatment may take longer and require more extensive work.
What's the youngest a child can get braces?
There is no set age when children require orthodontics. The treatment plan will depend on individual needs. For example, kids with cleft palates get orthodontic appliances before their first teeth erupt.
Other kids may benefit from starting treatment as early as age 6 or 7, even if they have not lost all of their baby teeth. The goal of early treatment is to prevent further problems from developing. It will create a better environment for the permanent teeth to erupt, or grow, into.
Most kids who require early orthodontics will still need braces or additional work later to complete the tooth and jaw alignment process.
Do braces hurt?
"Hurt" may be too strong of a word. But your child may have some discomfort when braces are first put on, when they are adjusted, or when you start using a new appliance, such as rubber bands or a headgear.
Any pain or discomfort can be relieved by taking ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Also, if the wire, brackets, or bands irritate your child's mouth, your orthodontist can provide special wax to cover the sharp areas on the braces.
Is it possible to be allergic to braces?
Yes. Some people are allergic to stainless steel. When this happens, other appliances can be used instead. People can also be allergic to the latex gloves used by the orthodontist and the assistants. If your child has a latex allergy, tell your dentist so that non-latex gloves can be used.
Braces can sometimes irritate a child's gums, causing this to swell. This is not an allergic reaction, but something parents still need to watch for.
What foods are off-limits for kids who wear braces?
Braces are delicate. Breaking part of the appliance can result in the teeth moving in the wrong direction and in longer treatment. Anything that is hard, sticky, or chewy should not be eaten, including:
- Hard candy
- Chewing gum
- Chewy candy, like caramel