If it’s time to consider getting braces for you or your child, a few concerns have probably crossed your mind: What if my child gets teased? What is the right age for braces? What if it hurts? Take a moment to familiarize yourself with frequently asked questions about braces, so you can assure your child (or yourself) that braces are actually very fun!
Here are our answers to the most commonly asked questions about prepping for braces.
Q: What causes crooked teeth?
A: There are a few factors that affect if teeth are straight. A jaw that doesn’t align properly can cause teeth and the mouth to close incorrectly. Genetics impact how your teeth come in, meaning that conditions like malocclusion can be inherited. Malocclusion is when teeth are crowded, crooked or protruding. Additionally, habits and outside factors like injury can also affect if teeth are straight. For example, sucking your thumb can lead to malocclusion.
Q: Do braces do anything other than making teeth look straight?
A: Straight teeth look great, but they’re also better for your overall health. When teeth are aligned properly, it’s much easier to properly clean them. This helps you avoid gingivitis and maintain good smile health throughout your life.
The ADA writes that over time, crooked teeth can lead to, “caries (tooth decay), gingival (gum) disease and possibly tooth loss. An improper bite can interfere with chewing and speaking, cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, and lead to problems with the jaws.”
Q: At what age should I take my child to get braces?
A: Bite abnormalities become noticeable between ages six and 12. So, “orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14.” During this age, a child’s face and mouth are usually still growing, making the teeth and jaw easier to adjust. The best age for braces is really specific to the individual, so talk to your dentist to get a personalized age for braces recommendation!
Q: Why would my child need braces?
A: Sometimes crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw are genetic, while other times they develop from habits or accidents. Braces correct the appearance of teeth, but also improve chewing and speaking abilities when teeth create other problems.
Q: I’m an adult. How do I know if I need braces?
A: If you didn’t have braces as a child or didn’t follow your orthodontist’s advice after your braces were removed, you could have crooked teeth as an adult. Your dentist can recommend if braces can improve your oral health by straightening out overlaps or gaps.
Q: Will braces be painful?
A: Having braces is like breaking in a new pair of shoes. After settling into an adjustment, braces are usually quite comfortable. “Orthodontic treatment often is more comfortable and takes less time than it did years ago,” writes the ADA. It’s important to note that as an adult if you had braces as a kid, the experience is very different today. Besides added elements of customization, brackets are smaller and the application process is more refined, which makes getting braces a painless experience.
Braces are designed to gradually pull the teeth and jaw into new positions. When you get your braces on, you may experience soreness. The most soreness will come after the orthodontist tightens or adjusts the brackets. The body has an inflammatory response when this happens due to the mechanical pressure felt in the mouth. This is what makes your mouth hurt after visiting the orthodontist. Anti-inflammatory medicine can help reduce this – always consult with your orthodontist before taking any medication to help with pain from braces.
Q: How long will my child have braces? How long do braces last?
A: The length of a braces’ treatment plan depends on what your orthodontist’s plan is. Over and under-bites generally take longer to correct than straightening out crooked teeth. At your child’s first orthodontic visit, your orthodontist will be able to give you an accurate treatment time frame.
“Although treatment plans are customized for each patient, most people wear their braces for one to three years depending on the conditions that need correcting. This is followed by a period of wearing a retainer that holds the teeth in their new positions,” the ADA says.
Q: Will my child get teased about their braces?
A: The children of today are a powerful generation and one thing we have learned is that they love their customizations. Personalized goods and messaging have become increasingly more important to retailers addressing the millennial and Gen Z markets. Over half of millennials and Gen Zers surveyed would pay more for a product that no one else has.
Enter: braces. Before the 2000s, braces were not refined like they are today, making them clunkier. They were also often accompanied with headgear, creating an embarrassing combination. “Brace face” or “metal mouth” were not uncommon names to be called. But, since braces have harnessed newer technology and become more comfortable and effective, their reputation has changed, too.
Kids today don’t have to worry as much about getting teased for wearing braces. Fashion Week 2015 was a turning point where models proudly bared their braces down the runway as a sign of individuality. Fashion and beauty writer Arabelle Sicardi said it’s about “making braces your own, making it part of your look.”
Stories like these can help your child overcome any fears of embarrassment after getting their braces on.
Q: What’s the average cost of braces?
A: The cost of straightening your teeth depends on the method you choose and the length of your treatment plan. Accidents like losing a retainer can also increase the overall cost of straight teeth. Metal or ceramic braces range from $3,000 to upwards of $8,000. Pricing also varies depending on where you live. The first step is to discuss with your dentist if braces are right for your child (or you!).
If you think your child might benefit from braces, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss options. Find a dentist in your area!