A child wearing braces smiles while holding a toothbrush

Does My Child Need To See An Orthodontist?

As a loving parent or guardian, part of taking care of your child should involve ensuring that their dental health is in tip-top condition. You need to ensure that your child practices excellent dental hygiene, take them to see a dentist twice annually, and also take them to see an orthodontist for an orthodontic evaluation.

Why Does Your Child Need to See an Orthodontist?

You are probably wondering – why does my child need to see an orthodontist? An orthodontist for kids not only helps them gain an attractive smile but also improves their bite health (how the child's bottom and top teeth fit together). Additionally, an orthodontist will help prevent your child from developing crooked or overcrowded teeth as their adult teeth come in and solidify.

First of all, if your child has an incorrect bite, they are likely to have speaking and chewing difficulties. An orthodontist will be able to detect subtle issues with their bite and jaw. On the other hand, overcrowded teeth can be a challenge for your child to clean properly, resulting in gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. Moreover, even if your kid's teeth look straight, there might be other problems that need to be monitored as they grow.

Keep in mind that an orthodontist will only suggest Phase I treatment if it's necessary. Otherwise, they will inform your child doesn't need treatment or recommend another visit when they are older.

Understanding Orthodontic Treatment for Kids

There are two primary phases of orthodontic treatment for kids, Phase I and Phase II. Phase I treatment provides the orthodontist with the opportunity for early intervention. It's typically performed on kids who have a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth. Phase I treatment is meant to correct a developing problem before implementing a more comprehensive treatment (Phase II treatment) course like orthodontic braces. This early intervention creates a better environment for your kid's permanent teeth. Some of the benefits of Phase I include;

  • It guides your child's jaw growth
  • It reduces the risk of trauma resulting from protruded front teeth
  • It corrects harmful habits
  • It directs permanent teeth to the correct spaces
  • It improves your child's smile

On the other hand, Phase II treatment commonly commences once the child's permanent teeth have erupted and are strong enough for braces.

When to See an Orthodontist

You are likely wondering when to take your child to see an orthodontist. According to the American Academy of Orthodontics (AAO), it's best to take your kid to an orthodontist by age 7. However, it's okay to take your child to an orthodontist if they are younger than 7 years and are showing signs of having orthodontic issues. You can ask your child's pediatric dentist to look for these signs whenever you visit them. You can also lookout for the following signs on your child;

  • Crowded teeth
  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Difficulties with chewing or biting down
  • Regular breathing through the mouth
  • Jaws that appear recessed or protruded
  • Frequent clenches or grinding teeth
  • Facial imbalance
  • Teeth that meet improperly
  • Jaws that make sounds or shift

What Are the Advantages of Early Screening?

The AAO encourages early screening because the jawbones of children don't harden until they reach their teenage years. Therefore, because children's bones are still pliant, orthodontic procedures like braces treatment are much easier and can work faster than for adults. Scheduling your kid's first orthodontist appointment sooner means a greater chance of enhancing their overall oral health. Additionally, early screenings can help avoid extensive surgeries and extractions later on. This can work to eliminate the emotional anxiety that is associated with visiting a dentist or orthodontist.

What to Expect During Your Visit

If you have been to a dentist, your kid's first orthodontist appointment wouldn't be very unfamiliar. Once you arrive for the appointment, the orthodontist will ask questions and extensively examine your child's teeth for the presence of any dental issues, including difficulties with chewing and biting. The orthodontist will also take X-rays of your child's teeth to see how they are positioned and whether the permanent teeth will still need to erupt. Moreover, the orthodontist might also create a mold of your kid's bottom and top teeth. Using the information they have gathered from the questioning and examinations, the orthodontist will offer recommendations and come up with a treatment plan if necessary.

What Is the Best Age for Braces?

Children typically struggle with self-esteem growing up, and the issues might escalate as they get older and become more self-aware. Having crooked teeth can amplify these insecurities and lead them to have negative feelings toward their smiles. Getting braces will enable your kid to achieve a straighter, more pleasing smile and help them regain their confidence. You are likely curious about the best age for braces. The AAO suggests that your child should get braces once they have lost all or at least most of their baby teeth and most of their permanent teeth have erupted. This typically happens between ages 8 and 14.

What Is the Cost of Braces for Kids?

The cost of braces treatment for kids will vary depending on several factors. These factors are what type of braces for kids will you want for your child, the treatment duration, and whether you have dental insurance for your child or paying out of pocket.

When it comes to the types of braces for kids, there are traditional metal braces, Damon braces, and Invisalign aligners. When considering traditional braces, account for the additional cost of multiple visits to the orthodontist during the period it will take to straighten your child's teeth (usually 1 to 3 years). Damon braces are self-ligating; thus, you will have fewer follow-up orthodontic appointments.

On the treatment duration front, the longer your child's orthodontic treatment lasts, the more it will cost. The treatment can take longer than expected if the braces are damaged or your child has tooth decay while wearing braces. Replacing or repairing the braces and treating the tooth decay will affect the overall cost of the treatment. This is why it's critical that you help your child adhere to the orthodontist's advice on oral hygiene and do's and don'ts while wearing braces. 

Finally, the cost of braces for kids for your child will be more affordable if they have dental insurance compared to if you are paying out of pocket. Confirm with your orthodontist that they accept your dental insurance.

Contact us today and schedule a complimentary orthodontic appointment for you or your child.

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