Orthodontics for Children
Anybody can be treated orthodontically, however orthodontics is most successful when carried out in children because their teeth and bones are still actively growing.
Early intervention orthodontics
There are several different types of orthodontic appliances which can be used for early intervention orthodontics.
- Palate expanders are appliances which can act to optimise jaw growth, giving more space for crowded teeth as well as improving the shape of narrow dental arches and the high palates associated with airway problems and mouth breathing.
- Functional appliances can be used for correction of large overbites and protrusive teeth and when used in the growing mouth can assist the jaws to grow into a better relationship. This type of appliance only works when used during the child’s growth and so are typically best done in the preteen years. A functional appliance uses the musculature surrounding the mouth and the patient’s growth to direct forces for tooth movement that aid bite correction.
The appliances are generally quite comfortable to wear after an initial period of getting used to them and children adapt to them very well. They are not painful in any way and once the child has practised speaking with them in they don’t impact on their daily life at all.
Not every child will be appropriate for early invention, but it makes sense to treat the problems early when you can. Arch expansion with jaw development and teeth alignment can result in a better facial features and profile as well, and may avoid the need for braces and extractions in the future. The later the intervention, the more likely it is conventional braces will be required.
There are two types of orthodontic braces, fixed and removable. Different combinations of braces may be used to treat individual cases.
- Removable braces such as Invisalign or other clear aligner system work by exerting gentle pressure.
- Fixed braces give more precise guidance and have brackets and bands temporarily attached to the teeth. Unlike removable braces, they can’t get lost when you go swimming with the braces in your pocket. Fixed braces are either in metal, or more neutral coloured ceramic. Colourful bands are often worn with metal braces.