Getting braces can be quite exciting for kids, contrary to all those stories you might have heard that state otherwise. The braces stage marks an important rite of passage for your children on the threshold of beginning their journey into the ‘teenage phase’. As a parent, there will be several questions you will be prone to asking, and that’s only natural.
Kids With Braces – at what age?
What even is the appropriate age for braces? Truth be told, there is no fixed age for kids to wear braces. Orthodontists might peg the starting age anywhere between 9 and 14 years; roughly, by the time your child has some permanent teeth.
That being said, while some pediatric dentists recommend that kids be screened by their orthodontist for braces at the tender age of 7, those braces are generally not fitted until the child has at least 12-yr molars and has lost all of their primary teeth.
Does my child even need braces?
Your orthodontist might say your child needs braces, but that won’t stop you from doing your bit of research where it comes to zoning in on the normal age to get braces.
It’s far more common to see kids with braces in today’s day and age, as compared to 30 years ago. There are plenty of reasons kids might be needing braces.
Watch out for the following signs. If your child displays most of these, it might just be time for those braces, after all.
- Difficulty biting or chewing food
- Mouth breathing
- Overcrowded teeth
- Disproportionate jaw
- Teeth that do not meet; or meet abnormally
Types of braces
The following are the most common types of braces you can choose from.
By and large, the most common option for children.
Description: A metal wire passes through small metal appliances, called brackets, fixed to each tooth. The wire is amply secured on the brackets with elastic bands.
How they work: The tightening of the wire at regular intervals serves to produce the desired tooth movement, pushing the teeth backwards.
Note: You might wish to consider the advanced option here: self-ligating metal braces that don’t require elastics and provide a greater force over a longer duration.
Kids with braces are often seen sporting this variety.
Description: Similar to metal braces, except they are made from a clear, tooth-colored material to blend with the tooth color.
How they work: Like metal braces, a metal wire does the trick. This wire can also be covered with that tooth-coloured material.
Note: If you have an elder child conscious of their appearance, this is a good choice.
For those concerned about their braces ‘showing’ too much!
Description: Like metal braces, but placed on the inner side of the teeth to avoid them being noticed.
How they work: The same way as metal braces, but by ‘pulling’ instead of ‘pushing’!
Note: If you’re looking for a quicker treatment plan, this might not be the best option.
Pretty much the rage now; makes it seem as though you’re wearing no braces at all. Invisalign strike a bell?
Description: These are available as a series of clear and removable orthodontic appliances.
How they work: The aligners use gentle, consistent pressure to move your teeth to the desired position. Removed only for eating, brushing.
Note: Parental attention is crucial, as these might not work if children do not wear them for the recommended duration of at least 20 hours a day.
Food Dos and Don’ts for Kids with Braces
Kids with braces can eat pretty much everything – well, not quite! Here’s a look at some dos and don’ts vis a vis that diet for kids with braces.
Approved Foods for Kids with Braces (H3)
- Bread. Pre-cut loaves of bread, tortillas.
- Dairy. Soft cheese, yogurt.
- Grains. Rice, noodles, and cooked pasta.
- Meats & Chicken. Roast and barbecued options that aren’t too chewy.
- Cooked Vegetables. Braces are no excuse to not eat those ‘veggies’!
- Seafood. Fish, crab, salmon.
- Soft fruits. Bananas, strawberries, pineapples.
- Sweets. Ice Creams, milkshakes. In ‘moderation’, please!
Not-Approved Foods for Kids with Braces
- Nuts. These can dislodge brackets and break wires.
- Corn on the Cob. Instead of biting into that cob, use a knife to cut the corn off.
- Caramel. Sticky foods can get stuck to brackets and cause breakages.
- Chewing Gum. You won’t have fun getting that gum out, when stuck in the grooves of those brackets.
- Ice. Cold drinks with ice are fine. ‘Crunching’ on ice? A strict no-no!
- Lollies. Most of these are hard and chewy.
- Beef Jerky. Too much chewing on this can land you in trouble.
- Turmeric. Can stain those Invisalign retainers!
Dental Care for Kids with Braces
Looking for the best aftercare for kids with braces? Look no further.
- Brushing their teeth. This is vital, but not merely limited to the recommended ‘twice a day’. They need to brush after every meal!
- Flossing. Flossing needs to be done every day in addition to brushing.
- Considering a mouthguard when playing sports. You kid might not like wearing this, but it’s better to be safe than be left with a bloody lip or broken bracket!
- Rinsing well when there’s no toothbrush. If your kids have eaten outside and have no access to their toothbrush, they need to make it a point to at least rinse thoroughly to remove all that food debris, before they can go home and brush their teeth.
- Visiting the dentist regularly. Last, but certainly not the least! This is crucial because your dentist can reach to places your kid can’t, to remove that excessive plaque and calculus buildup that might serve to cause tooth decay.
Every child is unique, and as such, they might start wearing braces at wildly different ages as compared to their peers. No matter what, getting braces and wearing them over a sustained period of time, is not all that complicated. When done right, children will enjoy wearing them – and of course, love the effect they will have on their teeth. Visit a EuroKids centre near you and enroll your child.