Children and Orthodontics
Types of Braces and Other Appliances continued...
Headgear: Some people can benefit from using headgear. The appliance is attached to the braces from the back of the head and can be removed. As with rubber bands, headgear are used when extra force is needed to move the teeth and jaws. If a headgear is needed, it usually only has to be worn at night while sleeping or at home.
Retainers: Retainers are used to keep teeth in place once braces are removed. It takes time for your teeth to settle into their new position. By wearing a retainer, you can prevent your teeth from shifting. Some retainers may be removable. Others are fixed -- bonded behind your teeth. Some retainers are made of clear plastic and metal wires. Others are made of rubber. And like braces, retainers can make a statement if you choose. There are glow-in-the-dark retainers or retainers customized with a picture.
Can a dentist provide orthodontic treatment instead of an orthodontist?
Yes. Many dentists have training in orthodontics. However, if more extensive orthodontic work is needed, it may be 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 ages 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. But the amount of work may be significantly less if orthodontic treatment was completed early.