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Braces for children: What are the options?

Boy smioing close up braces.jpg

Every child is unique. Not surprisingly, the same goes for their orthodontic treatment needs. Choosing the kind of teeth straightening treatment or braces your child needs is a decision that can only be made with the help of an experienced, specialist orthodontist after a thorough assessment of your child’s teeth, gums and jaw. (Live in the South-West London? Come and see us.)

When your child should begin orthodontic treatment depends on their specific needs

The good news is that it’s never too late to get braces. The optimal age to begin wearing braces will depend on your particular child and their particular orthodontic problem. Ideally, you should take your child for regular dental check ups from a young age so that any potential problems—like an overbite, overcrowding or problems caused by thumb-sucking—are spotted early on. Usually, children begin wearing braces when they are around 11 years old (although some children can need braces as young as seven or eight years old). While the average treatment time is two years, complex cases can require longer treatment times.

Today, children have more teeth straightening options than ever before

Some children are thrilled by the idea of getting braces, seeing them as a harbinger of teenager-dom and an opportunity to express their individuality. Others, however, feel self-conscious about the appearance of braces or worry that teeth straightening treatments will hurt. Whichever category your own child falls into, they have a wider range of braces to choose from today than ever before.

  • Fixed metal braces

Traditional fixed metal braces, which attach to your child’s teeth with metal brackets and are connected by a wire, are still the most common type of braces worn by children. That said, fixed metal braces have come a long way from the large, unattractive ‘train tracks’ of the past. Today’s metal braces have smaller, stainless-steel brackets, making them less obvious and more comfortable than their predecessors.

  • Fixed braces with ceramic or porcelain brackets

These braces are similar to traditional metal braces, apart from the fact that the brackets are ceramic or porcelain. Ceramic brackets can either be clear or tooth-coloured, making these braces less noticeable than their all-metal counterparts. Some ceramic braces also utilise tooth-coloured wires, making them even less conspicuous. It’s worth noting that ceramic braces are more fragile than metal ones and require more careful cleaning, as they can stain over time.

  • Self-ligating braces

Self-ligating braces are also similar to traditional braces, apart from the fact that they don’t require the use of elastics. Instead, brackets are connected to the archwire by means of a clip or ‘sliding door’. Self-ligating braces are generally easier to keep clean and require fewer orthodontic visits, as they don’t require frequent ‘tightening’.

  • Lingual braces

Lingual braces are much more discreet than traditional braces because they are worn behind the teeth. While a benefit of lingual braces is that they are virtually invisible, one drawback of this system is that they are difficult to keep clean as they’re harder to reach. In addition, lingual braces aren’t suitable for all cases and may not be offered by all orthodontists.

  • Upper removable appliances

The most obvious advantage of an upper removable appliance (URA) is that it can be taken out before eating or brushing teeth. This means that your child won’t have to avoid hard or sticky foods that can damage traditional braces or make them a nightmare to clean. In addition, clear acrylic aligners are practically invisible. Because clear aligners are custom-made to fit your child’s teeth, they’re also very comfortable to wear. Because they’re so comfortable and discreet, clear, removable aligners are particularly popular amongst teenagers. Of course, getting the best results requires making sure your child wears their aligners for the required amount of time each day. In some cases, URAs are worn for six to nine months before fixed braces.

As a parent, you want nothing but the best for your child. The first step to giving your child the gift of straight, healthy teeth is thoroughly educating yourself on the teeth straightening treatments available for children today. Download our free guide, Teeth Straightening for Kids, here. In it, we answer 14 important questions that parents often have about orthodontic treatments for children.

If you suspect your child may need braces, book a consultation with one of our specialist orthodontists to properly assess your child’s needs and explore which type of braces will be most suitable. Metamorphosis Orthodontics is a family-friendly practice situated in Parsons Green, near Fulham, South-West London. Call us on +44 20 3828 7116 to make an appointment.

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