Many parents want their children to have a beautiful and healthy smile, but they may not know when is the best time to start orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with correcting the alignment and position of the teeth and jaws. Orthodontic treatment can improve the appearance, function, and health of the teeth and mouth.
The Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment for Children
Orthodontic treatment can have many benefits for children, such as:
- Improving their self-esteem and confidence by enhancing their smile
- Preventing dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss by making it easier to clean the teeth
- Reducing the risk of injury or trauma to the teeth and jaws by correcting protruding or crowded teeth
- Improving their speech and chewing ability by aligning the teeth and jaws
- Promoting normal growth and development of the face and jaws by correcting bite problems
The Signs of Needing Orthodontic Treatment for Children
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. This is because some orthodontic problems can be easier to treat if they are detected early, before the permanent teeth erupt and the facial bones stop growing. Some of the signs that your child may need orthodontic treatment are:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in biting or chewing
- Mouth breathing or snoring
- Thumb sucking or other oral habits
- Crowded, crooked, or misplaced teeth
- Teeth that do not meet properly or at all
- Jaws that are too small or too large, or that shift or make noises
- Facial imbalance or asymmetry
The Types of Orthodontic Treatment for Children
Orthodontic treatment for children can involve different types of appliances, depending on the severity and complexity of the problem. Some of the common types of orthodontic appliances are:
- Braces: Braces are the most widely used orthodontic appliance. They consist of metal or ceramic brackets that are attached to the teeth and connected by wires and rubber bands. Braces apply gentle pressure to move the teeth into the desired position over time. Braces can correct various types of malocclusion, such as overbite, underbite, crossbite, open bite, and spacing or crowding issues.
- Aligners: Aligners are clear plastic trays that fit over the teeth and gradually shift them into alignment. Aligners are removable and can be taken out for eating, brushing, and flossing. Aligners are suitable for mild to moderate cases of malocclusion and can offer more comfort and aesthetics than braces.
- Expanders: Expanders are devices that are used to widen the upper or lower jaw to create more space for the teeth. Expanders are usually fixed to the back teeth and have a screw that can be turned to apply pressure on the jaw. Expanders are often used in early intervention to correct narrow jaws, crossbites, or crowding problems.
- Retainers: Retainers are appliances that are worn after the active phase of orthodontic treatment to maintain the results and prevent relapse. Retainers can be fixed or removable, and they can be made of metal, plastic, or a combination of both. Retainers should be worn as instructed by the orthodontist to ensure long-term stability of the teeth.
The Duration and Cost of Orthodontic Treatment for Children
The duration and cost of orthodontic treatment for children can vary depending on several factors, such as:
- The type and severity of the problem
- The type and complexity of the appliance
- The age and cooperation of the child
- The experience and skill of the orthodontist
- The location and availability of the orthodontic clinic
In general, orthodontic treatment for children can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, with an average of 18 to 24 months. The cost of orthodontic treatment for children can range from $3,000 to $10,000, with an average of $5,000. However, these are only estimates and may not reflect your specific situation. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with your orthodontist for a personalized treatment plan and quote.
How to Find a Qualified Orthodontist for Your Children
If you are looking for a qualified orthodontist for your children, you should consider the following tips:
- Ask for recommendations from your family dentist, pediatrician, friends, or relatives who have had orthodontic treatment for their children.
- Check the credentials and reputation of the orthodontist online. Look for reviews, testimonials, before-and-after photos, awards, memberships, etc.
- Visit the orthodontist’s website and social media pages to learn more about their practice, services, staff, equipment, etc.
- Schedule a consultation with the orthodontist to discuss your child’s needs, expectations, and goals. Ask questions about the treatment options, duration, cost, payment plans, insurance coverage, etc.
- Compare different orthodontists and choose the one that you feel most comfortable and confident with.
Orthodontic treatment can be a life-changing experience for your children. It can help them achieve a beautiful smile that will boost their self-esteem and happiness. It can also improve their oral health and function, and prevent future dental problems. Therefore, it is important to start orthodontic treatment for your children at the right time and with the right orthodontist.