As your children grow, their permanent teeth come in over a period of years. Unfortunately, in many cases these teeth do not come in properly. They can be crooked, rotated, or otherwise imperfect. To adjust the position of these teeth so that dental issues can be avoided, many children and teenagers end up needing orthodontic care.
Every year, millions of adolescents need braces or other forms of treatment. Before proceeding, parents need to educate themselves about the basic forms of orthodontic treatment. By doing so, you can make sure that you are making an informed decision about the care that your child receives.
The most common type of treatment involves the use of braces. These are appliances that work by exerting steady pressure to the teeth over a period of months or years to adjust their position. They are used not only to straighten teeth, but also to insure that the jaws develop properly so that your child does not have a misaligned bite.
Traditionally, braces consist of metal brackets that are bonded to each tooth and then connected by a flexible wire. At each appointment, the wires are adjusted so that the teeth can be moved into the proper position. While the brackets are often mounted to the front of each tooth, they can also be placed on the back to make them less visible.
If more pressure is needed to adjust the teeth, the orthodontist may recommend the use of rubber bands, also known as elastics. These are used to connect two teeth, usually one on the top and one on the bottom. Rubber bands may be worn only at night, or the orthodontist may want them to be worn all the time.
There are also removable trays that can be used to adjust the position of your child's teeth so that brackets do not have be bonded to each tooth. These trays are made from a plastic and molded to the appropriate position. By wearing them throughout the day and at night, pressure can be exerted on the teeth, just as with braces. However, these trays are often more expensive and may not be suitable for all patients.
Once your child's braces have been removed, he will probably have to wear a retainer. These appliances are intended to make sure that the teeth remain in the proper position without the use of braces. Retainers can be removable or permanent.
Removable retainers are made from plastic or rubber and fit over your child's teeth. The orthodontist may want your child to wear the retainer at all times, or he may only need to wear it night. A permanent retainer consists of a metal wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth to prevent them from moving and becoming misaligned again.
In some cases, your child may require more involved care, such as the use of headgear or another appliance. Be sure to discuss your options thoroughly with the orthodontist before proceeding.