By the age of 12, most of your child’s permanent teeth have grown in. This is the most common age for orthodontic treatment to correct crooked teeth, bad bites and gaps between the teeth. Braces are the easiest way to fix these problems and give your child a pleasant and confident smile.
Types of Dental Braces
Your orthodontist may recommend one of the following types of braces to help align your child’s teeth.
Traditional braces have come a long way. Nowadays, these are lighter and more comfortable than they used to be. They are typically made from high-grade stainless steel. They are attached to the teeth by metal brackets, which are fixed in place with composite resin. Each bracket is linked to its neighbor by a thin archwire. It is the archwires which put gentle pressure on the teeth, causing them to slowly adjust to the desired position. The archwires are connected to the brackets by o-rings. It is these that your orthodontist will adjust each time he or she tightens the braces.
Ceramic braces function in the same way as traditional braces, the difference is that the brackets are made from a transparent ceramic substance. This makes them less visible. Sometimes the elastics on this these types of braces become discolored which can leave marks on the teeth, which your orthodontist will need to remove.
These braces are currently very popular with orthodontists because they don’t require as many dental visits as traditional and ceramic braces do. Damon braces use a slide mechanism to connect to the archwires, instead of elastics, which makes them self-ligating. Because the teeth are able to move without being adjusted, these braces produce faster results. They’re also easier to clean.
If you want your child to have the benefit of braces to align their teeth but you don’t want him or her to spend a year wearing metal braces, Invisalign is the answer. Invisalign uses clear aligners instead of metal wires, to gently bring your teeth into alignment. The treatment takes a year or less.
DIY Brace Repair
Dental braces don’t break very often, but when they do, it can be painful for your teen, particularly if the metal is digging into the gum or cheek. Be prepared in case this happens. Keep your orthodontist’s number in a handy place. You may have to do some DIY repairs to bend the metal away from the gums. Always have some orthodontist wax in the medicine cabinet. If the problem is serious and it arises outside of normal dental office hours, you will need to contact an emergency dental service.
Tips for Fixing Braces
If your child has a problem with broken braces there may be some things you can do to help.
Broken wire: A wire which is sticking out into the gum, you may be able to bend the wire back into a safe position using a pencil eraser. If this is not effective, you can cover the end of the wire with a small amount of orthodontic wax. You should not cut the wire.
Loose band: Sometimes the bands that are cemented to the back teeth can come loose or fall off completely. In this situation there is no DIY fix. You should not try to put it back on, but make an appointment to see your orthodontist.
Loose bracket: Brackets are usually attached with composite resin, which is similar to the substance used in fillings. Biting and chewing can loosen the resin and cause it to break. This will make the bracket come loose and poke into your tongue, cheek or gums. You can use orthodontic wax to cover the brackets to stop them hurting.
Loose spacers: Spacers are rubber rings placed between the teeth. They are usually kept in place for spacers can become dislodged and fall out. If this happens, call for a dental appointment. They are usually kept in place for a few days to open a small space between the teeth to make way for orthodontic bands.
Problems with broken braces can sometimes take your orthodontist a while to repair. He or she may be able to adjust or reattach the loose parts, if not then they will have to be replaced. If you child has any problems with his or her braces, you should make an appointment for a dental visit as soon as possible.
Mike Plambeck is a dental marketing professional who writes about the world of online dental marketing as well as educational dental health topics. He lives in Lincoln, NE and raises 2 kids, Noah and Dani, along with his wife Marissa.