By the ages 10-13 years old, most of a child’s baby teeth have fallen out. When the new ones grow in, they may not be ideally spaced or aligned. Whether they be for practical or cosmetic reasons, many adolescents and their parents choose to invest in braces for a child’s future smile. The need can be genetic, caused by inheriting bite or spacing problems. Sometimes it can be due to prolonged thumb sucking habits, poor nutrition, or decay. Depending on the severity of the need, your dentist may be able to recognize the early signs of a need for braces, the most common being:
- Irregular loss of baby teeth
- Chewing or biting difficulties
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
From this point, the matter is out of the dentist’s hands and he or she may recommend your child see an orthodontist. If these signs are ignored, they can very likely cause problems later on. These could include crowded teeth, an over or underbite, and even jaw problems. The “best age” is different for every child, but it usually falls somewhere between ages 8-14. Sometimes a parent or child may choose to schedule an orthodontist appointment if they notice crookedness that may not necessarily be causing dysfunction in the mouth but they choose to correct the problem for cosmetic reasons. If this is the case, the orthodontist will be able to determine when it is best to begin the treatment, and whether or not it can wait if it is a minor correction. In some situations, teeth can shift over time as the mouth grows to a place where the problem is not as visible.
The 4 Types of Braces
Metal or Traditional Braces
These are the most commonly seen braces in teenagers and even adults. Over the years, different designs have been developed to reduce the amount of metal used, making it less bulky, less noticeable, and more comfortable sitting inside the mouth. While they still remain the most noticeable type of braces, they are the cheapest.
Designed very similarly to metal braces, but they have clear or tooth-colored brackets and even wires used to blend into the mouth. Despite this convenience, they can stain easily if not properly cared for and are more expensive than traditional braces.
Lingual braces are metal braces but in reverse. They attach to the teeth from the inside rather than the outside. While not directly visible, they can be uncomfortable and very difficult to clean. They do not function well for more severe cases of misalignment but are used for more cosmetic fixes. They are also more expensive.
Clear plastic similar to a mouth guard, but for alignment purposes. They are replaced every two weeks for gradual but smooth transitions. Again, Invisalign is not recommended for severe cases. They are nearly invisible and do not restrict any food or drink. Available to teens and adults only, they remain the most expensive braces option, as well as the longest in duration.
For whatever reason you decide to invest in a beautiful smile, do NOT ever purchase “Do It Yourself” braces online and attempt to use them! These can do lasting damage and can even cause the extraction of permanent teeth which cannot be replaced! You are much better off going to a licensed orthodontist. Most are flexible and offer convenient payment plans so that a straight and happy smile is not out of reach.