Will Your Child Need Braces?

An argument could be made that children don’t “need” braces at all, that they are mainly for cosmetic purposes. However, there are certainly instances in which a failure to adjust teeth and jaw formation could lead to serious dental health issues or even oral malfunction.

Even if braces aren’t a necessity for medical reasons, there are several instances in which children can benefit from getting braces. Smiles are prized as an indicator of good health and an amiable personality. They are often the first thing others notice about us and they tend to be an important physical feature when it comes to attraction.

In other words, having straight teeth and a beautiful smile is not only important from a medical standpoint, but also from a social perspective. Will your child need braces? That is for you to decide, but here are a few factors that may influence your decision.

Medical Reasons

There are a number of legitimate medical reasons for children to get braces. In many cases, teeth that are crowded or are otherwise improperly aligned can cause a variety of health-related concerns.

For example, crowded teeth can be particularly difficult to clean, resulting in buildup of tartar and plaque that lead to more serious issues like cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss. Crooked teeth can prevent a proper bite pattern, leading to frequent biting of soft tissue like the lips, cheeks, and tongue.

There’s no reason to force children to suffer from such issues when there is a relatively simple solution available. With braces, teeth that are crooked, overlapping, overcrowded, or that have gaps can be properly aligned to avoid such issues.

Another problem that could be solved with braces is malocclusion. This condition is characterized by differing sizes in the upper and lower jaw that cause an overbite or underbite. As with misaligned teeth, a misaligned jaw could lead to problems biting or chewing, including accidental biting of the soft tissues in the mouth.

In cases where the jaw is misaligned or there is a disorder of the jaw joint, braces can be extremely beneficial in correcting problems. Doing this before adulthood could prevent more serious issues later on.

In some cases, other treatments will be needed to make braces a viable solution. For example, overcrowding may require that some teeth be removed prior to the application of braces. Some kids will require the addition of headgear to maximize or speed the effects of braces.

The point is that there are situations in which braces are more than just cosmetic. They may save your child from a lifetime or oral health issues related to misaligned teeth or jaws.

Cosmetic Reasons

Naturally, one of the most common reasons to get braces is for cosmetic purposes. When children begin to develop crooked or overlapping teeth, they have large gaps between teeth, or they have unusual bite patterns because their jaws don’t line up correctly, they may suffer from social stigma and a lack of confidence as a result.

A beautiful smile is a desirable physical characteristic to possess, and believe it or not, it can act as a form of social currency. Although most parents don’t want their children to become overly obsessed with physical beauty as a defining characteristic (in other words, they want to discourage vanity), there’s nothing wrong with helping children to avoid unnecessary self-esteem issues when a remedy is so readily available.

Early Signs

Although most children won’t be good candidates for braces until adolescence, your dentist or orthodontist can usually tell much sooner if your child will need braces based on a number of common factors. Many of them will be apparent to you, as well.

Early indicators that a child will need braces can be seen as soon as infancy and toddlerhood, when teeth start coming in. For example, children that have a lot of trouble chewing or that frequently bite their lips, cheeks, or tongue may suffer from early symptoms of misaligned teeth or jaws.

In addition, early, irregular, or late loss of baby teeth are hallmarks of problems that may eventually require braces. Clicking or shifting jaws or jaws that seem disproportionate can also be an early sign that braces will be needed. You should discuss any concerns with your pediatric dentist as the first visit with an orthodontist could take place as early as the time permanent teeth start coming in (around 6 or 7), even though braces will probably come much later.