Orthodontics for Kids
Between the ages of 9 and 13, adult teeth have erupted but the jaw is still growing, allowing for the movement necessary to align the teeth and bite. Whether traditional braces, clear brackets or Invisalign Teen, orthodontics is an investment in a beautiful, lifelong smile.
When Should My Child Visit an Orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends your child visit the orthodontist around seven years old. At this point, Dr. Cline should be able to evaluate any potential future issues. Although your child will still have baby teeth, some of their adult teeth will have come in, which helps him understand what future problems could be on the horizon.
A few early signs that might signal it’s time for your child to see an orthodontist are:
- Difficulty chewing food
- Mouth breathing (this can be related to issues with your child’s palate)
- Finger/thumb sucking (if this behavior persists past the age of four, the position of your child’s incoming teeth might be affected)
- Crowded/misplaced teeth
- Irregular or incomplete bite (how the teeth come together when clenched), known as malocclusion
Phases of Early Orthodontic Treatment
Phase 1 – completed prior to the full eruption of your child’s permanent teeth, usually between ages 6 to 10. This treatment will help create room in your child’s jaw for the development of permanent teeth and also help the upper and lower jaws work together. Following phase 1 treatment your child will wear a retainer and come in for periodic follow up meetings every 4 to 6 months.
Phase 2 – occurs after your child’s permanent teeth have all come in (usually between ages 11 and 13). This is best accomplished with full braces (or Invisalign®) and lasts from 12 to 18 months.
Assuming you’ve followed Dr. Cline’s phase 1 recommendations, you and your child should expect
- Less intrusive braces (no headgear)
- Lower chance of extractions of permanent teeth to make room in the jaw
- Less time overall spent wearing braces
Braces for Kids
It’s natural for kids to be worried or self-conscious once they find out they’ll need braces, and Dr. Cline will be happy to help them understand the underlying reasons for the procedure. As they get used to their new appearance, there are some additional adjustments that you can help them navigate:
Caring for Braces – your child will have to be extra vigilant about food choices once the braces have been applied. Flossing and careful daily cleaning will help avoid any complications or damage to braces. It’s also best that you come in for regular cleanings and checkups so that Dr. Cline can make sure everything is OK.
Discomfort – braces do put pressure on teeth, so your child will have some discomfort at first, which is completely normal. Soft foods and over-the-counter NSAIDs can help. If the problem is a sharp wire poking your child in the mouth, you can always use some orthodontic wax to address the issue.
Loose wires or brackets – these are typical and should not concern you as long as they do not cause pain. If they do, contact Dr. Cline at the first sign of a loose wire or bracket so that we can have you come in as soon as possible.
Orthodontics for Teens
For older kids and teens who are fully committed to improving their smile, Invisalign Teen may be a preferred option for treatment. This system of clear aligner trays straightens teeth without metal braces or wires. To achieve a successful outcome, Invisalign Teen requires a patient to comply with wearing the trays at all times except for brushing, flossing, and eating.