Orthodontic appliances correct alignment problems through continuous pressure on the teeth, which ultimately forces them to move to a more straight position.
Most children need braces, wires and elastic bands. The brackets are fixed on the teeth and connected with a wire and elastic bands. The wire adjusts gradually over time to help align the teeth slowly. There are elastic bands of many colors for children to choose the one they like best. Although metal brackets are still used, there are also white and transparent ceramic brackets, which go almost unnoticed. Some are even placed behind the teeth.
There are also transparent removable devices that are called “aligners” and move the teeth with plastic “splints” instead of using elastic wires and bands. But these devices are only suitable for some people.
Some children may need other devices, such as a cap (don’t worry, it’s usually used only at night!). The cap uses a horseshoe-shaped wire that attaches to the posterior teeth and allows more force to move the teeth. Perhaps, the orthodontist also recommends extracting one or more teeth from your child to make more space in the mouth.
Once the appliances are in place, your child will have to visit the orthodontist every few weeks for the professional to check and adjust them.The duration of your child’s treatment with appliances will depend on the problems the orthodontist is trying to correct, but the average time is two years. Next, your child may have to use a specially molded retainer (a small piece of plastic with metal wires or a thin piece of plastic shaped like a mouth guard). Retainers prevent teeth from returning to their original place.
Since it is very easy for food to get stuck in wire devices, children should clean their teeth very carefully. It is essential that you brush your teeth after eating and flossing every day (the orthodontist can give your child a special device to pass the thread through the appliances). Dental cleaning and regular check-ups for caries are also essential.
Your child should avoid some foods (such as popcorn, hard, sticky candies, and chewing gum) that can damage the appliances. Juices and soft drinks with sugar can also be a problem because they can contribute to tooth decay. Children with transparent plastic aligners should always take them off to eat.
Because the appliances put pressure on the teeth, they may sometimes be uncomfortable, especially after the orthodontist adjusts them. If this happens, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers (pain relief medications) and give your child soft foods.
You should immediately visit the orthodontist if your child has a loose wire or bracket or if a wire is hurting his mouth. If the orthodontist finds no problem, your child can use orthodontic wax to cover the sharp areas of the braces that cause discomfort or scrape his mouth or gums.