Braces For Children

For children, getting braces can be a confusing concept to grasp.  On the one hand they are excited because lots of their friends have braces and they love the idea of having straight teeth but on the other hand they are wary of the fact that it might hurt.  The good news however is that with the new technology self-ligating brackets only low forces are used and therefor braces are not painful at all.

While orthodontic treatment can improve smiles at any age, there may be an optimal time for individual patients to begin treatment in order to achieve maximum improvement in a minimum amount of time.  Braces tend to work much quicker on pre-teen and teenagers, compared to adults, as children are still experiencing jaw growth.

The optimal time to start with treatment is when patients are in their puberty growth phase and most of the permanent teeth have already erupted. During this phase many children have braces and it becomes socially acceptable and even desirable as friends convince their peers to get braces, therefor cancelling out the negative associations of having braces.

Most malocclusions are inherited.  These include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and a variety of irregularities of the jaws and face.  Some malocclusions are acquired.  They can be caused by thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, dental disease, premature loss of primary or permanent teeth, accidents, injuries or some medical problems.

To accomplish proper alignment, Dr Pretorius will attach braces to your teeth.  Braces consist of brackets and wires.  The wires apply light pressure to each tooth while the brackets are the handles that transmit the force to the tooth.  During the treatment, the orthodontist will periodically make adjustments to maintain the directional pressure required to continue the movement of the teeth.  Orthodontics uses a system of directional forces to achieve facial balance and tooth movement.  These systems include a variety of appliances mainly used for children, herewith a brief overview:

Fixed appliances:  These are the brackets that are placed on each tooth individually and connected with each other by means of an arch-wire.  These are commonly known as braces and can be either metal or ceramic (a clear synthetic material which is less visible).  Arch-wires are regularly changed with follow up appointments progressing in size and with the addition of elastic bands aid the movement of the teeth.

Headgear: A headgear most commonly helps to modify growth in the upper jaw to help prevent surgery at a later stage in a child’s life.  It is worn 14 hours a day, mostly in the privacy of your own home.  Optimal results are obtained with positive co-operation from the patient.

Retainers: Once the braces are removed we need to ensure that the excellent result remains stable for a period of time.  Therefor retainers are used only to sleep with to ensure that stability is maintained.

Orthodontic treatment is always a change for the better as it improves self-confidence, facial appearance and quality of life.

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