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Braces for Children

Many children are ambivalent about getting braces.  On the one hand, they like the idea of perfect teeth, but on the other hand they are nervous about whether the braces will cause pain and discomfort.  The good news is that the placement of orthodontic braces is not at all painful, and the end result will be a beautiful straight smile.

What Causes misalignment of teeth?

Poorly aligned teeth often cause problems with speaking, biting and chewing.  Most irregularities are genetic or occur as a result of developmental issues.  Conversely, some irregularities are acquired or greatly exacerbated by certain habits and behaviors such as:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition

What’s involved when a child gets braces?

Our office initially conducts a visual examination of your child’s teeth.  This exam is be accompanied by x-rays, study models (bite impressions) and computer generated images of the head and neck.  These preliminary assessments are sometimes known as the “planning phase” because they aid us in making a diagnosis and in planning the most effective treatment for your child.

In many cases, we will recommend “fixed” orthodontic braces for a child.  Fixed braces cannot be lost, forgotten or removed at will, which means that treatment is completed more quickly.  Removable appliances may also be utilized, are less intrusive, and are generally used to treat various types of defects.

Here is a brief overview of some of the main types of orthodontic appliances used for children:

  • Fixed braces – Braces comprised of brackets which are affixed to each individual tooth, and an archwire which connect the brackets.  The brackets are usually made of metal, ceramic, or a clear synthetic material which is less noticeable to the naked eye.  After braces have been applied, your child will have regular appointments to have the braces adjusted by Dr. de la Torre.  Orthodontic elastic bands are often added to the braces to aid in the movement of specific teeth.
  • Headgear – This type of appliance is most useful to treat developmental irregularities.  Headgear is a custom-made appliance attached to wire that is worn to aid in tooth movement.  Headgear is intended to be worn for 12-20 hours, each day and must be worn as recommended to achieve good results.
  • Retainers – Retainers are typically utilized in the third phase (retention phase).  When the original malocclusion has been treated with braces, it is essential that the teeth do not regress back to the original misalignment.  Wearing a retainer ensures the teeth maintain their proper alignment, and gives the jawbone around the teeth a chance to stabilize.

If you have questions about braces for children, please contact our office.

 

Dr. Daniel de la Torre
is a member of the American Dental Association, The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the International Association for Orthodontics (IAO), the American Association for Functional Orthodontics (AAFO) and the American Orthodontic Society