It’s true that it can take some time to get used to braces and that they can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable. However, I have never had a kid ask me to take the braces off because they can’t handle it. Three out of four children will experience mild discomfort for around a week after braces go on.
But, only one kid in ten will need a Panadol tablet to alleviate their discomfort. Any discomfort felt by a child when the braces go on is quickly forgotten when they see their teeth become beautiful and straight. This boost in self-confidence makes it all worthwhile.
Dear Dr Bobby, when is the right time to see an orthodontist?
Probably the most common question I am asked as an Orthodontist is, “When should my child visit the orthodontist? Aren’t they a little young for braces?”
In my opinion, every child should see a Specialist Orthodontist before the age of nine years. By this age, an Orthodontist can reliably predict if a child will develop orthodontic problems. We can often take simple measures to reduce or even avoid the person carrying over major orthodontic problems into their adult teeth.
Every child is different. Therefore, it is best to listen to the advice of a professional.
Dear Dr Bobby, I’ve been told I should take my eight-year-old to the orthodontist, but I can’t see a reason why, because she’s obviously too young for braces.
You should definitely listen! A kid’s mouth is like a swan – calm on the surface, but chaos underneath. There is so much activity during the six to eight year transition from the baby teeth to the adult teeth. Unless you know what to look for, you will be blissfully unaware that problems may be developing.
A Specialist Orthodontist is trained to detect problems early, and we can often take small steps to prevent big problems when your child becomes a teenager.
Dear Dr Bobby, it’s really important to me that I find the best orthodontist, how do I do that?
The first thing to ask yourself is, “Is the person offering me orthodontic treatment actually an orthodontist?” If the practitioner assures you that they are a specialist in orthodontics then you can trust, whoever it may be, that they have the knowledge and expertise.
While it is not at all illegal or improper for non-specialists to provide orthodontic treatment, I think it is worth remembering that you may be denying yourself or your child the opportunity to achieve a better outcome from treatment.
My child has braces, how can I ensure they are taking care of them?
Prior to wearing braces, both your dentist and your Orthodontist will be very strict to ensure that your child has excellent oral hygiene. And when braces are placed, your child will be shown in great detail how to care for their braces.
Poor dental hygiene before braces is a major predictor that your child will struggle to keep her braces clean, therefore it is essential that your child can prove to you that they are capable of being fully responsible for their own dental hygiene.
The most obvious sign that your child is struggling with dental hygiene is red and bleeding gums. In some children the gums will also appear quite swollen and may even grow over the top of the braces. More often than not, the child will also experience broken brackets – a sure sign that they are neglecting their braces and struggling to stay motivated about their treatment.
The best thing for parents to do is to try and keep their child motivated, and focus on the end result. Orthodontic treatment leads to the best possible smile, which will give them a lifetime of healthy teeth and beautiful confidence.
You may remember a young child who had braces at a really young age, and thought to yourself… why?
As a Specialist Orthodontist, I routinely see young kids developing serious orthodontic problems at an early age. Indeed, that is why I strongly recommend that every child sees a Specialist Orthodontist around 9 years old.
Some of these problems are best left until the child has lost all the baby teeth before we intervene with orthodontic treatment.
However, there are a few very common problems that should be addressed early, to reduce the chances of needing complex orthodontic treatment later in life.
1. Cross bites
Cross bites occur when the teeth come through the gums, then bite on the opposing tooth the wrong way round. Cross bites at the front of the mouth (anterior cross bites) are easy to see, and usually detract from the child’s appearance. Mums usually hate this! Cross bites at the back of the mouth (posterior cross bites) often go completely unnoticed, but they are very important to detect.
Failure to detect and treat cross bites can sometimes lead to facial asymmetry and underdeveloped jaw bones. Luckily most cross bites can be corrected around the time that they happen, allowing the jaws to continue growing normally. Often, a short period of time wearing a plate, or a short course of orthodontic fixed braces, can correct the problem quickly and easily.
2. Naughty canines
Adult canines are the longest teeth we have, and they often get lost on their long journey into the mouth. This can lead to an impacted tooth – a very difficult problem for a young family to deal with. A Specialist Orthodontist can detect this commonly inherited problem at an early age (before 9 years old), allowing the chance for simple intervention to lessen or even eliminate the problem before it occurs.
3. Missing adult teeth
This is another commonly inherited problem, and early detection can save a great deal of time, money, and effort down the line. A simple scan of the jaws at the age of 9 years old can establish the absence of adult teeth, allowing ample opportunity to lessen the impact.
4. Extra adult teeth
We call these supernumerary teeth, and they can cause all kinds of problems. Again, this is a commonly inherited problem, and it can be detected at an early age.
In many cases early detection and interceptive orthodontics helps you avoid nasty surprises, and can significantly reduce the need for complex orthodontic treatment once all the adult teeth have come through.
– Interceptive treatment should be carried out around the time certain problems occur. – This often reduces the need for complex orthodontic treatment in the teenage years. – A visit to a Specialist Orthodontist around the age of 9 years means you can detect the problems that need to be fixed early.