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When Should Your Child Get Braces?

child-bracesSome kids “chomp at the bit” to get braces because they view the dental work as a milestone in growing up. Other children are reluctant, concerned about how braces might look or feel. As a parent, you might have concerns and questions, too. How will you know if your child needs braces? If he does need braces, when should he get them? You might even wonder how braces actually repair crooked and misaligned teeth. Fortunately, the dentists at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers can answer any questions you and your child may have about braces. Our dentists have the training, tools and expertise necessary to evaluate your child’s mouth, determine if there is a need for braces and apply those braces.

Why Your Child Might Need Braces

Your child might need braces because her teeth are crooked, crowded or overlapping. Your child may even have a malocclusion, commonly known as a “bad bite,” which happens when the top jaw is a slightly different size than the bottom jaw. When her top jaw is larger than her bottom jaw, it creates an overbite. If her top jaw is smaller than her bottom jaw, she will have an underbite. Tooth decay, premature loss of baby teeth, injuries or even habits such as thumb sucking can cause tooth and jaw alignment problems. Crooked teeth and malocclusions can also be hereditary, passed from one generation to the next.

When Should Your Child Get Braces?

Dentists look for signs of these problems during regular dental checkups. If the dentist notices alignment changes, he or she may recommend a trip to the orthodontist to find out if your child needs braces. An orthodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating tooth and jaw alignment problems. The orthodontist will evaluate your child’s teeth and jaws to determine which type of braces, if any, would be right for your child. There are no age limits for a child’s first visit to an orthodontist — one might go at age 6 and another not until age 14. Orthodontists even treat adults, because crooked teeth are correctable at any age. Many orthodontists recommend an initial visit at about age 7, when the appearance of permanent teeth makes overcrowding and alignment issues apparent. While kids do not usually get braces that young, the early exams give orthodontists time to identify problems and create a treatment plan. To determine if your child needs braces, our orthodontist at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers will thoroughly examine your child’s teeth, mouth and jaw. The orthodontist will examine your child’s bite and ask questions about any clicking, popping, pain or trouble chewing and swallowing. Our orthodontist may take X-rays or make molds of your child’s teeth to gain a better view of tooth and jaw alignment. If necessary, the orthodontist will recommend one of many types of braces, including standard wire, bracket and band braces, and new Invisalign technology that uses clear trays. All types of braces perform the same task: correcting alignment problems by placing steady pressure on teeth to move them to a better position in your child’s mouth. Crooked teeth and jaw alignment issues can cause your child to have problems speaking, chewing, smiling and talking, so early action is always best. For more information on when your child should get braces, talk to the dental professionals at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers, where we have dentists who can perform routine checkups to spot tooth and jaw alignment problems early, and orthodontists who will create a treatment plan to straighten your child’s teeth.

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