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Braces for Kids: How Orthodontics Work

Updated on November 12, 2012

Options for Braces

Type of Braces
How does It Work
Pro and Con
Traditional Braces
Traditional braces are small metal brackets that are glued onto a person’s teeth with very thin wires running through the brackets and small elastic bands to secure the wires onto the brackets.
Easy to fine tune tooth position, Cheaper, but might cause disconfort to the inner mouth and lips. The cost is about $3,000 - $6,000
Sapphire Braces
Sapphire braces are same as the traditional braces except that it has clear or tooth color which offers better appearance
Better appearance but the cost is about $1,000 higher than the Traditional braces
Invisalign braces are made of series of clear teeth aligners. It looks like regular teeth retainers and works by putting pressure onto the teeth
Great for even better appearance but lacks the ability to fine tune tooth position. Only good for minor teeth correction and takes longer to correct them. The cost is about $5,000
Lingual Braces
Lingual braces is similar to Traditional braces except that the brackets are bonded behind the teeth.
Completely invisible, but very difficult to clean the teeth and will make your tongue sore. It cost at least $2,000 more than Traditional braces.
Braces on a kid - First Day of Wearing Braces
Braces on a kid - First Day of Wearing Braces | Source

Why do People Get Braces?

Braces are used to correct imperfect teeth alignment such as crooked tooth or teeth, overbite, and large gap between teeth. When a person has imperfect teeth alignment, it is easier to correct it when he/she is still young because the mouth muscle and the gum are still soft and flexible.

Crooked teeth, gap between teeth, overbite, crowded teeth.
Crooked teeth, gap between teeth, overbite, crowded teeth. | Source

When do You Need Braces

The best time to start using braces to correct teeth alignment is when most of the baby teeth have been replaced by adult teeth so that the loose teeth and new teeth won't interfere the process of correcting your kid's teeth. Therefore it should be around the age of 13 or after the permanent canines are in position. But anytime before that, your kid's orthodontist might use adjustable wire retainers to keep the upper jaw away from the lower jaw so that they won't overlap each other. This mainly helps some of the problems such as overbite and under bite. When adjustable wire retainers are given, you will be provided a tool to make necessary adjustments in between your kid's orthodontist appointments.

My kids started their braces at age of 8. Now I regret listening to their orthodontist to start their braces so early because they still had so many of their baby teeth by the time they were done with their braces. My son couldn't wear his retainer when he had a loose baby canine because it hurt. Worse yet, his baby canines became loose one after the other. So my son couldn't wear his retainer for more than a month and his other teeth started to shift back to their old positions. Now my son, who is13, has to wear braces again if he wants straight teeth.

Retainers and its tool to make adjustment to help with under or overbite before braces
Retainers and its tool to make adjustment to help with under or overbite before braces | Source

How to Find An Orthodontist

It is not easy to find a good orthodonist that you can afford for your kid. Try to ask around to see if your friends have known some good orthodonists. When you consult with an orthodontist, here are some questions you might want to consider to ask:

  • How long has the orthodontist be in this field of practice?
  • What is his/her advice on correcting your kid's teeth?
  • How long will it take to correct your kid's teeth?
  • Can the orthodontist be reached in case of emergency during the off office hours?
  • Will there be an extra cost if he/she attends an emergency call?
  • Will you be allowed to observe while he/she is working on other patients?
  • How much is the cost?
  • Does the cost include the X-ray?
  • Will there be extra cost if it takes a lot longer than the estimate time?
  • Will there be extra cost if it requires extra appliances?
  • Do they accept your dental insurance?
  • Do they have a monthly interest-free payment option?
  • When can he/she start seeing your kid?
  • How long is the wait when you have already had an appointment?

Three Months of wearing Braces - Most of the Teeth Are in Good Positions.
Three Months of wearing Braces - Most of the Teeth Are in Good Positions. | Source

How Long does Braces Take

Your kid will need to wear his/her braces for about 2 - 4 years depending on the condition of the teeth. The orthodontist will tell you the approximately time to correct the teeth during the free consultation. After your kid has his/her braces on, he/she will have to check in with the orthodontist every 4-6 weeks to change the wires. Your kid may also need to see the orthodontist if any of the brackets come loose or a elastic band breaks.

Does it Hurt to Have Braces

Your kid will feel the soreness to his/her gum the first few days after the braces are on because the wires are exerting steady pressure onto the teeth. His/her inner mouth and lips will also feel sore because of the contact with the metal brackets. Putting some Veseline/petroleum jelly and avoid talking too much will ease the pain. Your kid should not bite on anything that are too hard or too sticky. Food that are soft would be best for the first day or 2, such as porridge or yogurt. Once your kid gets used to the braces in his/her mouth, he/she won't feel much and can eat normal food. However, each time when your kid has his/her wires changed, he/she will feel the pressure on the teeth because of the new wires will pull on the teeth.

After getting Braces: How to clean your teeth

It is harder to clean the teeth after the braces are on, so make sure that your kid spends extra time to floss and brush his/her teeth. There are dental tool, which look like the shape of a needle, made specially for people with braces to floss their teeth. Remind your kid to brush his/her teeth in circular motion instead of straight back and forth. Use mouthwash often as well in order to keep bacteria out. Your kid should continue to see his/her dentist for regular cleaning and check-up. Some dentists may require the wires off from the braces before cleaning, but some don't. Therefore, you should check with your kid's dentist, then schedule an appointment with the orthodontist to remove the wire the day before your kid's dentist appointment.

retainers for after braces
retainers for after braces | Source

Retainers After Braces

After your kid is done with the braces, he/she will be asked to wear a retainer, either all the time or just at night while sleeping in order to keep the teeth in their positions. The retainer can be transparent and made of soft plastic or a solid hard plastic with a wire attached to it. If your kid's teeth are straight but still need more work on the bite, the orthodontist will likely have him/her to wear a wire retainer which is not adjustable.

Teeth After Braces

Clear plastic retainer and wired retainer
Clear plastic retainer and wired retainer | Source

Cost of Braces for Kids

The cost of braces is about $3000 - $10,000 depending upon how much work needs to be done, what type of braces your kid wants and the orthodontist your kid is using. Therefore it is important to check with at least few orthodontists for their advice and pricing. Most dental insurance will cover all or part of the cost for children so using an orthodontist that accepts your insurance will help ease the cost. If you do need to pay a large portion of the cost out of your own pocket, some facilities offer monthly installment without interest.

Have you or your kids had braces?

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    • profile image

      Liam 3 years ago

      I am also getting braces soon I am just worried when they tighten them

    • profile image

      Ellie 4 years ago

      I am getting braces in a couple of monuths and I just don't know what couler to get I was thinking of blue and purple but I don't know if they will look good?

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you charisma for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      charisma 5 years ago

      i like brace make kids.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you adjkp25 for reading and commenting. My youngest daughter who just turned 8 is also waiting for her two loose teeth to come out before her turn to get braces.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      I had braces as a kid and my wife and son have them now; as soon as our daughter looses a few more teeth it will be her turn. Great information on what newbies to braces can expect and how to keep the darn things clean!

      Voted up and useful.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you Robie for loving the video. My 10-year-old daughter composed this music for me. I will show her your comment when she is back from school. She will be so thrilled. :)

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Nare, I hope your friends will find this hub useful. Thank you for your kind words. :)

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      I love the video with the great info and soothing music, it's ideal to show a child what they are getting into and prepare them, so they are not too nervous about the "bracing" process.

      Great job!

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      I am glad to know that my hub provides adequate information for readers. Thank you Nettlemere.

    • kittyjj profile image

      Ann Leung 5 years ago from San Jose, California

      Thank you WillStarr for reading and your compliment.

    • Nare Anthony profile image

      Nare Gevorgyan 5 years ago

      Wow kitijj, this is awesome. My friends neds braces and you video is sooo useful! Thanks for sharing!

    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Liked the video a lot and I think you've covered everything a person could need to know.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Really good and informative Hub!