Ortho Children

Braces are often thought of as a rite of passage. Many children (as well as many adults) turn to orthodontics to straighten out crooked teeth or fix a misaligned bite. As a parent, you may wonder if braces are in your child's future.

Orthodontics has changed over the years, and the process for determining whether or not a child needs orthodontics has evolved, too. A pediatric dentist will work with parents to help decide if their child needs braces (or another orthodontic appliance) and, if so, when to begin the treatment. These decisions may be made when a child is quite young—younger than you may have been when you had braces. At Dr. Beanca Children's Dentistry, we can examine your child's teeth to see if they are a candidate for orthodontics—then we can provide that treatment right in the same office. Keep reading to learn more.

The History of Orthodontics

In the 1700s, in France, dentistry was improving by leaps and bounds. By the early part of the 19th century—in 1819—the first set of braces was invented by Christophe-Francois Delabarre. Of course, braces today are vastly different, but from that first woven wire designed by Delabarre to the braces kids are wearing today, the purpose is the same—to straighten teeth.

One of the first practitioners to work in orthodontics was Edward Angle—also known as the “Father of Orthodontics.” He practiced in the late 1800s/early 1900s. In fact, the classification he coined for a misaligned bite—malocclusion—is still used today. He believed that orthodontics required special training, and he developed the first postgraduate program for orthodontics in the United States. Additionally, he was responsible for developing many different types of orthodontic appliances.

Orthodontics, of course, has evolved over the years. In the 1970s and 1980s, braces were bands that fit fully over each tooth. Wire was attached to brackets on the front of each band to move the teeth into place. By the 1990s, bands were out, and brackets were affixed to the fronts of teeth, still joined by wire. These brackets, however, were smaller, and they could be made of a clear material, so they did not have the same bulky appearance as the metal bands that came before them.

Finally, in 1997, the first clear aligners were designed. These are plastic trays that fit over teeth to straighten them—often over a shorter period of time than traditional braces. These aligners were made available to the public in 2000, and today, many patients prefer this method of straightening their teeth—though traditional braces are still an option in any orthodontic office. Orthodontics has come a long way, but just as teeth needed to be straightened back in the day—the whole reason Christophe-Francois Delabarre and Edward Angle worked so hard—they need to be straightened today.

Determining Your Child’s Need for Orthodontics

So how will you know if your child needs orthodontics? Many experts believe that your child should see an orthodontist for the first time when they are 7 years old. Yes, this is when they still have many of their baby teeth. There are many treatments which can take place while your child is still young to lessen the chances that they’ll need orthodontics when they’re older, although some may appear candidates for orthodontics from the start—or they may not appear to be a candidate at all.

After the orthodontist (in our office, that’s Dr. Shawn Yu) examines your child’s teeth, there are several options you may be given. Your child may benefit from the use of a palatal expander, which can increase the area of a child’s palate, leaving more room for their adult teeth. A palatal expander can also help children who may have a crossbite.

The orthodontist may recommend removing baby or impacted teeth to encourage adult teeth to come up in a favorable position. They will discuss with you the best treatment plan if an extraction (or extractions) is recommended—an extraction may not need to happen immediately. It may be recommended that your child wear braces for a short amount of time to correct an issue that, if left untreated, might require a longer-term solution later. If nothing needs to be done right away, routine visits to the orthodontist can help you stay on top of where your child stands in terms of needing orthodontic intervention.

So, Your Child Does Need Orthodontics…

Most kids are fitted for braces between the ages of 9 and 14. Here are just some of the reasons your orthodontist may suggest braces for your child:

  • A misaligned bite
  • Crowded teeth
  • Gapped teeth
  • Over or underbite (perhaps as a result of thumb sucking)
  • Asymmetry in the face
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Difficulty chewing, biting, or speaking

Every child is different. What works for one child may not work for another. If your orthodontist determines that your child would benefit from braces, they will sit down with you (and your child) to discuss all the options. Some children are great candidates for traditional brackets and wires, while other children may adapt better to clear aligners (also known as Invisalign). Your child’s temperament may well help determine which option is agreed upon, along with what the orthodontics are trying to fix. You know your child better than anyone, so your input about what might work best will be a crucial part of the decision-making process.

If your child is fitted for braces, treatment may last anywhere from a year and a half to three years. Metal brackets and wires may take a little longer to do the job than clear aligners. Of course, your child would need to be faithful about keeping the clear aligners in place for the recommended 22 hours a day. Braces may not be the most fun option for any child, but the results when treatment is over should make it well worth the trouble.

Are You in the Market for an Orthodontist?

Whether you already think your child might need braces or you want a professional to take a look, look no further than Dr. Beanca Children’s Dentistry. We’re here for all your child’s dental needs—and that includes orthodontics.

If you’re in the Huntington Beach, CA, area and want to see an expert’s opinion on your child’s teeth, don’t wait—schedule an appointment today!