There comes a time in many children’s lives when braces become necessary. While some children may not want to accept the reality of braces and others are excited to wear them, children with orthodontic issues need this kind of help to have a smile they can be proud of as they grow into their teenage years. Even more importantly, braces help ensure proper alignment and a strong, healthy bite in adulthood.
While traditional metal braces used to be the default for children and adults who needed teeth alignment, today we have many options available for straightening teeth. Of course, this can be a positive and a negative thing, as parents often end up concerned about making the correct choice for their child.
Let’s dive into the best braces for kids and what to look for when choosing braces at Robison Orthodontics.
What Are the Types of Braces Kids Can Wear?
While your mind may immediately jump to images of metal braces when you hear your child needs orthodontic work, there are several options available on the market today. Metal braces are not the one-size-fits-all solution they have been in years past. In fact, many competing models are even more popular than traditional braces in some areas, most famously Invisalign.
Each model and variation has its own benefits and drawbacks, and there is no single orthodontic treatment that is best for everyone. That’s why you’ll have time to consult with your orthodontist about what they recommend for your child, and then you can discuss the options with your child. We recommend taking your child’s preferences into account as well.
Traditional Braces: Pros and Cons
Though their popularity has waned over the years, metal braces still have plenty of use in the field. They are an effective teeth-straightening device, and you likely wore them when you needed braces yourself – or know someone who did. Still, there have been many advancements in traditional braces in recent years.
In general, traditional braces are metal brackets an orthodontist attaches to a patient’s teeth with dental glue. The brackets have wires connecting them that provide the necessary pressure to move the teeth into the proper position. Children may also wear rubber bands connecting the top and bottom set of teeth to help with jaw and teeth realignment.
Traditional braces continue to be a popular option for two primary reasons: they are cost-effective, and they get the job done. Even difficult cases or instances of severe misalignment are conducive to straightening with metal braces. Another pro for traditional braces with kids is that the tiny elastics that go on each bracket to hold the archwire come in many different colors so kids can express themselves and make the experience more enjoyable.
Metal braces come with the obvious drawback of being the most visible of all braces types. Some children may feel self-conscious wearing them, though most will quickly become accustomed to life with braces. Your child will also have a few food restrictions and care techniques to learn, but these are generally easy to manage.
Mini Braces: Pros and Cons
Mini braces seek to be an alternative to the traditional model that takes up less space in a child’s mouth and keeps a lower profile. Your child will still have metal braces, but they are typically less visually obvious. Another pro is that teeth are a bit easier to keep clean since more surface area of the teeth is open for brushing. Mini braces are also more comfortable than the standard set.
Mini braces aren’t for everyone and do come with a few drawbacks. They aren’t as powerful for moving teeth into play. For that reason, orthodontists may not recommend them in some cases where the child’s corrective needs are more complex. You’ll also have to avoid the same foods and practice much the same care regimen as with traditional braces.
Invisalign: Pros and Cons
Invisalign has exploded in popularity in recent years, and numerous patients come in and ask our staff about their potential. They’ve earned their reputation, as they do the job parents want and generally work well. But Invisalign isn’t perfect and has a few serious drawbacks that parents need to consider.
Invisalign is a set of clear aligners that a patient wears to straighten their teeth. Unlike metal braces, you can remove these aligners at any time to eat or brush your teeth. Each aligner is unique to the patient, as the orthodontist will scan the teeth to create a custom-made aligner. Patients must keep replacing the aligners with the next set as the teeth shift.
As the name implies, clear aligners are nearly impossible to see without closer inspection. They won’t show up in photos of your children and keep the lowest profile of any model on this list. Invisalign is also very durable, so you won’t have to worry about the aligners breaking easily.
There are two crucial drawbacks to Invisalign, however. They are the most expensive orthodontic solution on the market, and they can take a bit more time to move teeth into place since the force is more gentle. There is also an element of trust with these aligners, as your child will need to wear them at most times. If you can’t trust your child to keep them in for most hours of the day, you may want to steer clear of these and opt for traditional braces.
Ceramic Braces: Pros and Cons
Ceramic braces are another option for those who want to avoid metal braces or prefer a lower profile. These braces work faster than Invisalign and also have a clear look that makes them difficult to spot. Price-wise, ceramic braces are less expensive than Invisalign aligners but more expensive than metal braces.
Ceramic braces may not be as noticeable on the outside, but your child will likely know the difference in their mouth. These braces are larger than metal braces and can more easily agitate the inner surfaces of your child’s mouth. They are also less durable than metal braces or Invisalign aligners and could result in an additional trip to the orthodontist to fix any issues.
Self-Ligating Braces: Pros and Cons
Self-ligating braces look similar to traditional braces on the surface, but there is a crucial difference that makes these worth considering. Instead of two rubber bands helping to realign the teeth, these braces use metal clips that extend between the brackets. The clips help realign the teeth faster and allow children to move their jaw more freely.
Aside from the faster treatment time, these braces also eliminate the risk of broken rubber bands and the need for subsequent aligners. Of course, since self-ligating braces are still metal braces at their core, your child will still have a few restrictions on what they can eat.
Partial Braces: Pros and Cons
Some children don’t need the full set of braces and can instead wear partial braces for any corrective dental work. Partial braces look similar to traditional braces but only cover a part of the mouth that needs work. Our orthodontists at Robison Orthodontics can help you determine if partial braces are possible in your situation.
Invisalign Vs. Braces for Kids
You’ll have the final say in the decision when it comes to determining what kind of corrective dental work your child will have. Every system has its advantages, and you’ll want to pick something that works best for your child and their needs.
Since its growth in popularity, every orthodontist receives questions about whether Invisalign is worth it for their child. While the system is a useful tool and produces results, it may not be best for everyone. Children and younger teens may not have the maturity level to keep the aligners in at all times. You need to wear the aligners about 22 hours a day for them to be effective, and some kids will forget or purposefully leave them at home.
If you have a younger child who may not be diligent about leaving clear aligners in place all day, you may want to stick with traditional metal braces or a variant like partial or self-ligating braces if applicable. They are just as effective and durable, and you won’t have to worry about your child forgetting to wear the aligners or losing them at school or a friend’s house.
Why Should Children Get Braces?
While it may seem early, parents should schedule their child’s first orthodontist appointment when the child turns seven. This allows our orthodontists to anticipate where corrective work will need to happen in the future. There’s also a nice mix of baby and adult teeth to get a feel for how your child’s mouth will look in a few years.
As for the best age for braces, most children get braces for the first time between the ages of 10 and 14. Getting braces at these ages creates the best benefits and results from treatment. During adolescence, a child’s mouth is as malleable as it will ever be and most adult teeth are in place. Braces are most effective when a child is a pre-teen, but they can truly help straighten teeth and fix bite issues at any age.
Once your child finishes wearing their braces, they will have straight teeth. Straight teeth not only look good, but they also provide real dental health benefits, like easier cleaning, proper chewing, and a healthy bite. While wearing braces may not be ideal in your child’s eyes, it will provide life-long benefits.
Robison Orthodontics: Experienced and Friendly Orthodontists
Now that you have some information about the various types available here at Robison Orthodontics, it’s important to remember that every child has a different mouth and a different set of orthodontic needs. If you’re thinking of getting braces for your child, you should consult with our orthodontists about the possibilities so you can make an informed decision together regarding your child’s care.
Need more braces help? Our experienced orthodontists at Robison Orthodontics are here for you. We believe in putting the patient first and creating a warm and friendly environment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about our services.
Dr. Tyler Robison is an alum of Mesa’s Mountain View High School. He graduated from Brigham Young University before being accepted to the “Top Ten-nationally ranked” University of Louisville in Kentucky, where he earned his Doctorate in Dental Medicine and a Master’s Degree in Oral Biology. He graduated with honors in the top ten percent of his class. Dr. Robison continued at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco, where he received a second master’s degree in dental science and his orthodontic certification.