“Does my child need braces?” If you have asked your dentist that question, there are several factors you and your dentist to consider before making a decision.
When thinking about braces, teenagers typically spring to mind. Professional organizations like the American Association of Orthodontics, however, recommend getting an orthodontic screening as early as age 7 if there is a visible problem or if your dentist recommends it. Typically, to keep up with routine childhood dental care practices, you should plan to have your child assessed for orthodontics like braces around age 11 or 12.
Childhood accidents and bad habits like thumb sucking can negatively affect tooth alignment, potentially compound issues that arise from normal family genetics. If you have noticed the beginnings of crooked teeth or if your Little Rock dentist has expressed concern about alignment, it may be time for your child to get braces.
1. Jaw Pain and Grinding
Just as thumb sucking and using bottles and pacifiers beyond teething can alter the growth of teeth, habitual clenching and grinding can as well. If the problem is not identified and corrected in early childhood, these habits can actually negatively shape and move teeth, contributing to misalignments over time, such as overbites and underbites.
Fitting braces on relatively new permanent adult teeth minimizes this effect and helps build the foundation for a healthy, beautiful smile. Your child’s dentist can also prescribe fitted mouth guards for sleeping or school sports, ensuring that day-to-day life won’t interfere with bracing efforts to correct their alignment or cause smile damage.
2. Active Bone Growth
Young children and pre-teens heal relatively quickly from broken bones because their body is already busily engaged in growth. As the bones in their bodies grow, so do the bones in their jaw. If your child gets braces at a young age, your dentist can take advantage of their active growth to affect better alignment results within a shorter period of time. In some cases, if parents delay seeking treatment until the later teen years, they run the risk of a potentially longer and more difficult treatment period for their child as misalignment issues grow more problematic.
3. Braces Safeguard Dental Health
It may seem counterintuitive, but the tendency of braces to accumulate food particles can actually help your child’s dental health in the long run. Following the recommended daily regimen—brushing after each meal, flossing with specialized picks, and frequent orthodontic and dental check-ups—helps establish a positive dental care routine that will serve your child well throughout their life. Additionally, braces will prevent the teeth gum pockets and niches that can gather bacteria and cavities in a crooked smile, leaving decay with few places to hide. For this reason, treating children with orthodontics like braces provides an excellent foundation for strong, healthy teeth.
4. An Early Finish
Once it has been determined that your child does need braces, getting started as soon as possible means they can be removed at a younger age, potentially dodging the need for braces in adulthood. Most teenagers would rather not have braces during junior high and high school for aesthetic reasons, so it’s good to ask about your Little Rock dentist about braces earlier than you would think.
Additionally, if your child needs a preparatory orthodontic device before getting braces, such as an orthodontic expander or retainer, starting early will allow them to use these devices before that busy, socially-pressured stretch of teenage years.
If you have questions or concerns about if the time is right to ask about braces for your child, contact Arkansas Family Dental by calling 501.683.8886 and schedule an appointment. We will help you make the right decision at the right time for your family’s dental care needs.