Let’s find out what to expect, and how to support your kid’s dental-care routine during their orthodontic treatment.
For kids, starting to wear braces is like setting out on a journey: new things will be happening in their mouth, and doubts and questions will be popping up. But luckily, they can have their parents at their side to guide them. Are you ready to encourage them during their travels?
Let’s learn together the basics of kids’ orthodontics, and how you can support them in a very important task during the orthodontic treatment: keeping their teeth healthy.
What exactly is an orthodontic treatment?
When the time comes to straighten and move teeth into the right place, orthodontic devices are needed. Braces are the most well-known of these devices, but they are not the only ones. Orthodontic appliances can be fixed or removable; some are used to move jaw malpositions; some are used to control bad habits such as thumb sucking; others are applied in order to keep space for a permanent tooth to come in.
All devices should be worn for a certain amount of months or years, according to what is advised by your orthodontist. Often there won’t be just one plan on the table – different orthodontic treatments could lead to different levels of benefits, so it’s important to discuss everything with the orthodontist and decide together with your child. Regular check-ups with the orthodontist (often on a monthly basis) are also necessary in order to observe the progress and adjust the treatment if needed.
When is the right time for my child to visit an orthodontist?
Orthodontists are specialised dentists with an important role to play: they help your child have aligned teeth, making their future oral care easier and preventing any future issues with speech, bite or chewing. Check-ups by paediatric orthodontists should usually happen when your kid is aged between 8 and 14: this is the time when children lose most of their milk teeth, and when their permanent teeth appear.
“An orthodontic checkup is also recommended if you notice that your child is having issues in chewing or biting, impediments in speech, or if they tend to breathe from their mouth.”
After a routine visit, your family dentist might suggest you fix an appointment with a specialist for your child. An orthodontist is responsible for the detection, prevention and treatment of tooth and jaw misalignments. Although it is often seen just as an aesthetic treatment, orthodontic treatment is actually much more than that – it brings many important benefits for your child’s long-term dental health and also their overall health. If malocclusions (crooked teeth or a “poor bite”) are not treated professionally, this can lead to further damage or even loss of teeth.
An orthodontic checkup can also be recommended if you notice that your child is having issues in chewing or biting, impediments in speech, or if they tend to breathe from their mouth. Grinding or clenching teeth is also a good reason to go and see an orthodontist.
How can an orthodontist help your child?
Having properly aligned teeth and jaws – what is nicely called “a beautiful smile” – is one of the pillars of oral health and overall wellbeing. Crooked teeth are more difficult to clean, can wear down unevenly and more easily, and cause gums to have higher chances of developing disease. Which is why orthodontic treatment may help your child to avoid more complex dental issues in future – and also may well cost less than any eventual restorative treatments they’d likely need.
But it’s not only about oral health. There are other functions linked to having a “good bite”: biting and chewing correctly, which affects overall nutrition; articulating properly, which means clarity in speech; and a correct development of the face and the posture.
A good oral-care routine is crucial when your child is wearing braces
During orthodontic treatment, one thing you can really support your children with is their oral-care routine. In fact, good cleaning habits and thorough oral hygiene really helps in minimising the time your child has to wear braces, plus it contributes to healthier results – it’s important that both you and your child are aware of that at all times.
Before applying braces, it is advisable to go for a professional cleaning – check the best time to do so with your orthodontist. In the ideal scenario, your child should visit the dental hygienist a couple of months before treatment starts in order to be instructed on the proper cleaning techniques and instruments they’ll need. This makes it less overwhelming, as there will be so many other changes happening once the braces are applied.
The day your child gets their braces – and onwards – their teeth must be really clean. Make sure they brush with both regular and interdental brushes thoroughly after eating.
During the treatment period, maintaining good oral hygiene can be a bit harder than usual: there are a lot of new nooks and crannies in the mouth now, which become ideal spots for tiny bits of food and bacteria to get stuck in. You can also support your child in taking care of their mouth by leading by example, i.e. always brushing twice a day yourself, and making sure your children know that this is a general rule for all family members.