Children’s Orthodontics: A Guide to Fixed Braces

Children’s Orthodontics: A Guide to Fixed Braces

As a parent, you will have the best view of your child’s smile as they grow. You will be there when their first teeth come through, and you will eventually see their permanent smile forming. During this time, you may notice your child developing misalignments in their teeth and jaws. 

Dental misalignments are very common. It is estimated that nine in ten people will develop an orthodontic problem. Some people may develop slightly crooked teeth, while others may face more complex bite alignment issues that could affect their health. 

Fixed braces are a tried and tested method for straightening teeth. On The Row, we use a range of fixed brace systems to treat children. 

It is natural that you, as a parent, will have many questions about fixed braces. Understanding your child’s orthodontic treatment is important as it helps you make informed decisions about their care and allows you to provide the best possible support throughout the teeth straightening process.

In this guide, we will explore the different types of fixed braces available for children and answer the most commonly asked questions about the treatments. 

When Should a Child First Visit the Orthodontist?

Although orthodontic treatment is usually associated with teenagers, teeth straightening can start earlier. Many of the issues adults face with the position of their teeth are often present at a young age. 

Early treatment is often easier, as a child’s teeth and jaw are still developing up to and during puberty. This can reduce the length of time they need to wear fixed braces. Additionally, some orthodontic issues can worsen as a child ages. Early intervention often means shorter treatment times. 

We recommend children receive their first orthodontic assessment at around seven. At this age, a child’s permanent teeth are emerging. 

How Do Fixed Braces Work?

Although several types of fixed brace systems are available, they all work in a similar way. Braces apply constant, gentle pressure to your child’s teeth. This force is so slight it is barely noticeable, but over time, it moves your child’s teeth to a better position. 

Fixed braces consist of brackets and an archwire. The brackets are attached to the teeth, and the wires run through them. Small elastic bands often hold the wires in place. The tension along the wire promotes tooth movement. 

We will adjust the wire’s tension throughout treatment to guide the teeth to their desired position. 

What Can Children’s Fixed Braces Treat?

Fixed braces offer versatility and can fix a range of problems. 

Crowding

If a child’s jaw is small, teeth may appear crowded. Not only does this affect the appearance of their smile, but teeth that are too close together are often challenging to clean, making them more prone to tooth decay. Straightening your child’s teeth gives them a healthier smile. 

Crooked Teeth

Crooked teeth can make your child self-conscious about their smile. Additionally, teeth that are not straight may become unevenly worn, increasing the risk of sensitivity and cavities. 

Protruding Teeth

When front teeth stick out, it is not just an aesthetic problem. Protruding teeth are more likely to get knocked and damaged. Correcting their position helps your child’s confidence while reducing the risk of accidental damage. 

Gaps Between Teeth

When teeth develop too far apart, bacteria and food particles can build up in the spaces, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. Orthodontic treatment with fixed braces can bring teeth closer together and reduce these risks. 

Asymmetry

Issues with the alignment of your child’s teeth can make their smile appear off-centre. This can affect their confidence. Early corrective treatment will give your child a balanced smile they can feel good about. 

Overbite

An overbite is when the upper front teeth protrude out further than the lower front teeth. It’s considered an excessive overbite when the overlap is greater than normal.

Underbite

An underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes out, causing the lower front teeth to extend out further than the upper front teeth when the jaws are closed.

Cross Bite

A crossbite occurs when the upper and lower jaws are misaligned, causing some upper teeth to bite inside the lower teeth. This can affect the front or side teeth.

Open Bite

An open bite is when the upper and lower front teeth slant outward, creating a vertical gap between the top and bottom teeth when the jaws are closed. The back teeth may fit together normally.

Deep Bite

A deep bite, also called an excessive overbite, is when the upper front teeth overlap too far over the lower front teeth when the jaws are closed. It can cause the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth.

Impacted Teeth 

Sometimes, a child’s secondary teeth develop in the wrong position or do not erupt at all. Corrective treatment can allow new teeth to erupt in the correct position in these instances. 

Why Does My Child Need Braces?

Many parents wonder if their child really needs braces or if their misaligned teeth are just a temporary phase. However, most orthodontic problems will not resolve independently and require intervention. Early orthodontic assessment is important to identify and correct issues while they are easiest to address.

There are several reasons why we may recommend braces for your child:

Improve Bite and Alignment

Crooked, crowded, or protruding teeth and misaligned jaw position can affect how your child’s top and bottom teeth fit together (their bite). Braces work to straighten teeth and fix bite problems like underbites, overbites, crossbites, and open bites.

Prevent Jaw Issues

An improper bite strains the jawbones and muscles, potentially leading to jaw joint problems, headaches, and grinding down of tooth enamel over time. Orthodontic treatment guides jaw growth and alignment.

Boost Confidence

Braces improve smile appearance, which can boost confidence during the formative childhood and teenage years when they can be self-conscious.

Improve Speech Development

Misaligned teeth can make it challenging to position the tongue, potentially causing speech impediments. Braces realign the teeth and jaw to address these issues.

Prevent Oral Health Problems

Properly aligned teeth are easier to keep clean through brushing and flossing than crowded, crooked teeth. This reduces the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.

What Are the Benefits of Fixed Braces Over Other Treatments?

Although aligner treatments like Invisalign are trendy, traditional braces and other fixed appliances are still very beneficial and are frequently used for several reasons. Here are some of the key benefits of fixed braces. 

Fixed Braces Are Effective In a Wide Range of Cases

Fixed braces provide effective treatment in mild to severe cases. During your child’s initial orthodontic assessment, we would determine which treatment options would best suit their clinical needs. 

Children Cannot Lose or Forget to Put Braces Back In

Although removable aligners can be conveniently removed at mealtimes or before brushing, some people can forget to put them back in afterwards. Aligner treatment is very effective, but your child must wear theirs for at least 22 hours daily to achieve the expected results. 

Fixed braces do not come with this same risk. Because the appliance remains fixed, there is no chance of your child forgetting about it or falling behind on their treatment plan. 

Fixed Braces Are Adjustable

Throughout your child’s treatment, we will need to adjust their brace. The ability to adjust the brace gives us fine control over the treatment process. This means we can monitor your child’s tooth movements, adjust their treatment plan, and brace accordingly. 

What Type of Braces Will Help My Child?

As a parent, it is helpful to understand the various orthodontic treatments available. More than one type of fixed brace system is available, and each brings specific advantages. We use clear, lingual, and Damon braces. 

We can discuss the treatments below in more depth during your child’s consultation. Our early years team, headed by specialist orthodontist Dr Nirmal Shah, is always happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Clear Braces

Traditional braces use metal brackets and wires, making some people self-conscious about wearing them. Clear braces, on the other hand, make treatment more discreet. Instead of metal, these braces use translucent ceramic brackets. 

As with traditional braces, clear braces are attached to the front of a child’s teeth. We will adjust the brace during treatment. 

The benefits of clear braces for children include: 

  • Subtle appearance for self-conscious children
  • Highly effective in a wide variety of cases
  • Adjustments produce accurate treatment outcomes

 

Lingual Braces

Incognito lingual braces use metal brackets and wires attached to the backs of a child’s teeth. The benefit of linguistic braces is they remain completely hidden from view while retaining the effectiveness of other fixed appliances. 

Lingual braces provide the following benefits to children:

  • Hidden braces provide complete discretion
  • Ability to treat many malocclusions effectively 
  • Lingual braces deliver predictable results

 

Damon Braces

Although many fixed braces use rubber bands to hold an archwire in position, Damon braces do not. Instead, they have a self-ligating system, and the brackets are designed to keep the wire in place. 

This can improve the treatment outcomes and duration. In addition, adjusting the brace becomes much easier. Instead of removing the rubber bands, we can simply unclip the brackets to alter the tension along the wire, making appointments easier, quicker, and more comfortable. 

The benefits of Damon braces for children include: 

  • Improved treatment accuracy 
  • Versatility in the types of misalignments we can treat
  • Shorter and more comfortable adjustments

 

When Can Children First Get Braces?

Your child can receive orthodontic treatment from around the age of eight. Before recommending any form of orthodontic treatment, we would need to carry out a full assessment of your child’s teeth and jaws. 

During your child’s initial consultation, we will look at how their teeth and jaws are developing. As a child’s permanent teeth should have started to come in already, we can often gauge the necessity and suitability of fixed brace treatment at this age. 

The most common ages to receive orthodontic treatment are between 10 and 14. Treatment around this age range is often preferred as children and younger teenagers are less image-conscious, and there are fewer concerns about arranging interviews around important examinations. 

In addition, early treatment is often quicker as a child’s teeth and jaws are still growing. Complex malocclusions will typically worsen with age, so orthodontic intervention at a younger age reduces the length of time your child will need to wear braces. 

Do Children’s Braces Hurt?

Fixed braces create a constant force to gently move teeth. Although this may sound painful, it is not. Most children adapt to wearing braces quickly, and will get used to the pressure they create within a few days. 

During the first few days of wearing braces, your child may feel mild discomfort. Painkillers like paracetamol can improve comfort levels while they adjust to the brace. Similarly, your child may experience brief periods of slight discomfort whenever the brace is adjusted. Again, this can be managed using painkillers. 

Sometimes, children can find the appliance rubs against the inside of their cheeks and lips. Orthodontic wax can make the brace more comfortable, particularly while your child adjusts to wearing it.

Your child may develop a slight lisp when they start wearing braces. This is particularly common for children with lingual braces. This occurs as the tongue needs to get used to the appliance. Often, speech issues pass quickly. Your child should continue speaking as normal to get used to the presence of the braces. 

How Are Fixed Braces Fitted?

Once we have created a treatment plan, we will arrange to fit your child’s brace. Sometimes, we may need to remove teeth before braces are fitted. We will advise you whether this is necessary during the initial appointment. 

The process of fitting braces is simple and does not take long. First, we bond the brackets to the teeth using special dental glue. Next, we use a light to harden the glue. When the brackets are firmly in place, we attach the wire. 

Finally, we add the rubber bands to hold the wire in position. If we fit Damon braces, we do not need to attach rubber bands around the brackets. 

 

How Long Does Treatment With Children’s Braces Take?

Every smile is unique, and the duration of your child’s treatment will depend on the severity of their case. Treatments typically take 12-18 months. However, this can sometimes be shorter or longer. We will give you an indication of the expected duration after an initial assessment. 

Once your child’s treatment is complete, they must wear a retainer. These are worn to ensure the newly aligned teeth do not return to their previous positions.

How Do You Take Care of Children’s Braces?

Dental hygiene is more important than ever when your child has fixed braces. Due to the design of the appliances, food particles and bacteria can become trapped and build up. Brushing can become challenging. However, investing time will reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. 

Brushing after every meal is the most effective way to reduce bacteria. Ensure your child has fluoride toothpaste and a good-quality soft-bristled toothbrush. Replace the toothbrush or electric brush head every three months or when the bristles become worn. 

Your child will need to take the time to meticulously clean around every part of their brace while paying attention to all other surfaces of their teeth. It is often helpful to set a two-minute timer to help your child understand how long they should brush. 

Daily flossing will also help remove debris and bacteria from between teeth. Consider using interdental brushes or an oral irrigator to help clean the areas missed when brushing. 

You must also support your child to ensure the brace is not damaged. Certain hard or crunchy foods could cause damage. Find softer alternatives to add to your child’s diet. 

If your child plays sports, a mouthguard can help protect their brace, teeth, and mouth. 

How Much Do Children’s Braces Cost?

The exact cost of your child’s treatment will vary depending on the type of fixed brace we use and the case’s complexity. 

An exact price can be provided following a full consultation and creating a treatment plan.

Interest-free finance options are available to spread treatment costs. 

Fixed Braces for Children in Edinburgh

Early orthodontic treatment can give your child a future with good oral health. An orthodontic evaluation at seven can determine whether your child will need braces and when treatment should begin. 

The Row is renowned for delivering exceptional standards of orthodontic care for children and adults. 

Our early-years orthodontist Dr Nirmal Shah is a leading specialist orthodontist with a wealth of experience treating children using the full range of removable and fixed appliances. 

Schedule a consultation today to learn more about the benefits of fixed braces for children.

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