First time one of your kids is wearing braces? We know how stressful the process can feel at the outset – but learning more will help put your fears to rest. Browse some of parents’ questions we hear the most often below. And never forget that we’re here to act as your guides and offer resources from the first appointment to the day the braces come off.
First-Time Parents’ Most Commonly Asked Braces Questions
When should my child first see an orthodontist?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children visit an orthodontist by the time they’re 7 years old. It’s best to start early because the teeth and jaws are still developing, and tooth movement will be simpler. If there are already noticeable bite issues, your child’s dentist will recommend that you start considering orthodontic treatment when the ideal age arrives.
What will my child gain from braces?
Braces improve the alignment and position of your child’s teeth and jaws. This can lead to better dental function and oral health, on a lifelong basis. Braces can help prevent far more serious dental problems down the line by straightening teeth at a young age.
There are also significant changes to personal confidence that stem from straight teeth. If your child feels self-conscious or has been bullied because of their teeth, braces could help them feel more comfortable and even proud of themselves.
How do I choose the right orthodontist?
It’s important that you find a provider and office that make your child feel relaxed. The staff and atmosphere of each practice are distinct – find ones that fit well with your family. Find people you look forward to seeing on a regular basis – you’ll be visiting the office every six weeks or so for around two years. A positive environment will help you and your child enjoy the process.
If you’re unsure about one orthodontist’s treatment plan, get a second opinion to compare recommendations. You can also ask your child’s dentist for a referral to find a provider you feel good about.
How can I make braces more affordable?
Check with your insurance to see what they’ll cover. If you have an FSA account, you may be able to use that to help cover treatment. Thomas Orthodontics accepts all major credit cards and most insurance plans – get in touch to learn what you can expect financially. We also offer CareCredit financing to help break payments down into affordable options.
When do most kids start braces? Why is the start date getting earlier?
The average age of treatment is 12 years old. Many providers no longer wait until the teens because research has confirmed that early intervention is often helpful. Early treatment also allows for two-phase treatment, which can be the most effective option for certain cases.
What is two-phase treatment?
For eligible patients, two-phase treatment works with the natural development of the teeth and jaws to prepare the mouth for braces. Phase-one may involve an expander or other appliance that readies the teeth for full braces. It’s commonly completed while baby teeth are still present. There will likely be a retention period between the two phases, during which the primary teeth fall out and permanent teeth erupt. Phase Two is the period during which the child undergoes traditional orthodontic treatment with bonded bracket
What will happen if my child doesn’t get braces?
The consequences will depend on your child’s case. If teeth are crooked, they can be more difficult to clean, leading to cavities and gingivitis. Crooked teeth can also lose strength and longevity. Chewing and other basic tasks may be more difficult and create a risk of developing jaw disorders (TMD).
There can also be confidence issues that stem from the appearance of your child’s teeth. If your son or daughter is unhappy with the way they look, discussing braces is valuable.
How long will treatment take?
Treatment typically takes about two years. This is if the patient is following instructions and taking proper care of their teeth – broken appliances, neglecting to wear rubber bands, and dental problems developing from poor hygiene will change this schedule. Braces may also need to be taken off if serious dental problems take hold, which has a significant impact on the cost and length of treatment.
What should I do to help ensure my child’s orthodontic treatment stays on schedule?
Your child needs to brush and floss, eat braces-friendly foods, follow the orthodontist’s instructions, and generally take good care of their braces. You can encourage them and make sure daily steps are taking place (like oral hygiene and wearing rubber bands or other appliances).
But there are also factors out of your (and your orthodontist’s) control, like tooth development. Your child’s orthodontist will provide running updates as treatment progresses.
What if my child won’t cooperate – how do I keep them motivated?
Talk to your child about their responsibility and how their daily actions will help their braces come off ASAP. Teach them how to take proper care of their braces and stress the need for a gentle approach. If you notice them chewing on problem items like ice or hard candy, remind them what could happen as a result. Also, edit your shopping list so that tempting but dangerous snacks aren’t in the pantry or the fridge.
Your child’s orthodontist can also help instill some motivation by talking through the positives of proper care and reminding them how long braces would take without cooperation.
How can I avoid emergencies?
Try to keep problem foods out of the house – no hard candy, gum, popcorn, or other hard or sticky foods. Make sure your child is brushing and flossing properly, and wearing a mouth guard when playing sports.
How often will we need to visit the office?
Typically, appointments are necessary every six weeks. This may change as treatment progresses. If you ever run out of supplies like wax or rubber bands, no need for an appointment – just stop by whenever you have a chance!