Crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic problem. If your child has severely crooked teeth, it could also be causing him pain. Braces can help straighten teeth over time by gradually coaxing the teeth into the right place. It is a big expense, though, so you should carefully plan whether your child really needs them and when to do the procedure. Consulting with his dentist will help you make the right decision.
When to Get Braces
Your dentist will determine when it’s most appropriate to get braces. As your child grows, this can affect the way that her teeth grow in. Trying to address crooked teeth too soon may be a waste of your money — the teeth will grow crooked again. Many kids start around 9 or 10 years of age.
Types of Braces
Metal is the traditional material for braces. Recently, though, there are variations in the material used for the brackets that attach to the teeth. Ceramic braces will be the same approximate color of your child’s teeth, so they aren’t quite as noticeable as the traditional braces. There are also translucent braces. Lingual braces go behind the teeth and are mostly invisible to others. Some children don’t want to hide their braces and instead opt for brackets in fun shapes like flowers or footballs. If your child’s teeth are only slightly crooked, she may be able to use the Invisalign brand, which slip over the teeth and are completely invisible.
How Dental Braces Work
Your child’s dentist may first have to remove one or more of your child’s teeth to make room for the straight teeth. He’ll then place the brackets on your child’s teeth and connect them with wires. Each time your child goes back to the orthodontist, he’ll tighten the wires a bit. This can cause a bit of pain initially, but it will ease up in a day or two.
Keeping Braces Clean
Braces make it difficult to keep the teeth clean. Your child can use a regular toothbrush or you can purchase a toothbrush made specially for those with braces, which has a slight indentation where the braces are. To floss, your child must thread the dental floss through the braces, then use the floss between the teeth and gums. It’s common to get food stuck in the braces, so encourage your child to bring a dental hygiene kit with him so that he can freshen up after eating in public.
According to Cost Helper, the average 2010 cost of braces is $5,314, but it can go much higher. Lingual braces are about $2,000 to $5,000 more. Choosing anything other than the traditional metal, such as ceramic or shaped brackets, will also add costs to the braces. Many dental plans cover the cost of braces for children, though you may have to meet a high deductible before coverage kicks in or pay for a percentage of the treatment.