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Braces for Children and Adolescents

Many children are ambivalent about getting braces.  On one hand, they like the idea of perfect teeth, but on the other hand, they are nervous about whether the braces will cause pain and discomfort.  The good news is that the placement of orthodontic braces is not at all painful, and the end result will be a beautiful straight smile.

Many orthodontic problems are the result of functional problems that, if addressed at an early age, can make orthodontic correction much easier and predictable.  Early management of the tongue, facial muscles, and the airway is critical for proper development of the upper and lower jaws. When the jaws are allowed to grow normally, there is a greater probability that there will be room for all the permanent teeth, and the facial profile will be more desirable.  

In most cases, sufficient space will be created so that extraction of permanent teeth will not be necessary.  The idea is to help nature along as it is easier to guide budding teeth into place than to force them into position later.  Also, early treatment orthodontics enables the child to be finished with braces before children enter the vanity-prone high school years and competitive athletics.  

Although patients of any age can benefit from orthodontic braces, they tend to work much quicker on children and adolescents since they are still experiencing jaw growth.  The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children should first see an orthodontist around the age of 6-8.  An orthodontic examination may be beneficial before age seven if facial or oral irregularities are noted.

What Causes misalignment of teeth?

Poorly aligned teeth often cause problems speaking, biting and chewing.  Most irregularities are genetic or occur as a result of developmental issues.  Conversely, some irregularities are acquired or greatly exacerbated by certain habits and behaviors such as:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition

If you have questions about braces for children, please contact our office.


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