Does My Child Need Braces?

child smiling without braces

When the dentist or the orthodontist tells you that your child need braces, you might be reluctant to believe them. You can look at your child’s teeth and see that while they are not perfectly straight, they are straight enough. Are the results of braces really worth the long-term investment that braces are? How do you weigh the options, especially when most of your child’s friends are probably already wearing braces or are definitely going to get braces? When the orthodontist tells you that it is time for braces, especially for a long treatment, how do you know if you really need it or if they are just trying to sell you something?

Many parents will avoid getting braces for their children because they know that a lot of discomfort, time, and money go into braces. It’s difficult to gauge, right off the back, whether or not all of those things are going to be worth the end results.

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First of all, rest assured that when Dr. Pale,  Dr. Gemmi, or Dr. Middleberg tells you that your child needs braces, it is because they do actually need braces. We would not recommend a treatment for your child that he or she does not actually need. That said, how can you really tell that your child is in need of braces?

1. Your child has difficulty cleaning their teeth.

Most parents think of braces as just a way to straighten the front teeth and give their child a more beautiful and more confident smile. And while improving the smile and providing your child with confidence is definitely one of the best results of braces, if your child is having difficult cleaning his teeth because they are crowded and crooked, you have a more serious problem than just a few teeth that are not exactly where they should be for pictures. If your child’s teeth are crooked and crowded, it is going to become more difficult for them to effectively brush that teeth. And this means that they are going to be more susceptible to cavities and, eventually, gum disease.

2. Your child avoids smiling, talking, or laughing.

As a child, I had very crooked teeth, including my two front teeth that were overlapped and which jutted forwards, in front of my other teeth. I had been teased about them almost since they came in and I was very self-conscious about how they made me look. I became so afraid of anyone seeing them that I refused to smile with my teeth. If you are starting to notice similar behavior in your child, getting braces, even just for the cosmetic improvement that they can provide, is still a good option. If your child is actively exempting himself from activities or situations because he does not want anyone to see his teeth, this can become a serious problem in the future.

3. Your child is having health issues related to their teeth.

The health of your mouth dictates the overall health of your body. If your mouth is healthy, you will have fewer problems with the rest of your body. Poor oral hygiene is tied to issues in the digestive tract, as well as issues with the heart and the immune system. Many younger people whose jaws do not properly align might see very real issues with how well their food is being chewed, which can actually cause very serious problems along the rest of the digestive tract. If your orthodontist mentions that the jaws are not aligned or that the teeth are not matching up well, this could create a situation in which it is difficult to properly chew food and in which it is difficult to keep your teeth clean, which could lead to health issues.

4. Your child is grinding his teeth.

This is something that happens the most often during sleep, but is also something that your child could be doing subconsciously while sitting in a stressful class. When the teeth do not align properly, as the jaw clenches, the teeth slide over one another, grinding and clacking against one another. While this might not be a problem when they are older, this is a very significant problem as they age, as their teeth will start to wear down and might even start to chip and break. Straightening the teeth and making sure they are properly aligned can actually prevent this from happening, preserving the integrity of the teeth. With very severe underbites or overbites, there is the risk of the teeth damaging not just each other, but the other tissues of the mouth, including the lips, the gums, the tongue, and the roof of the mouth. Having these issues repaired with braces is the ideal solution.

The truth is that braces are not as bad as they once were. Many parents will avoid getting braces for their children because they remember their own braces and how uncomfortable they were. Today, braces are much lighter, much sleeker, and much more effective.

In addition, there are also a number of options for patients who want straighter teeth but do not want anything to do with braces. Invisalign, for example, can correct many of the same issues as braces, and they are much less noticeable, take about the same amount of time, and usually cost about the same amount of money, too. If you’re not sure if braces are right for your child or you want to discuss alternatives to braces, make an appointment to talk to an orthodontist today!

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