How to Know If Your Kid Really Needs Braces

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photo: Marian Weyo (Shutterstock)

Braces are a common thing that children get, and chances are your child’s dentist will suggest that you see an orthodontist at some point. (The American Association of Orthodontists suggests do this before age 7.) But does your child really do to need Braces?

When you come into the orthodontist’s office, the orthodontist often assumes that you are there because you are already interested in getting braces. The conversation can start from that assumption, so if you want to know if If your child needs braces, make sure this is your driving question.

You can also start this conversation with the regular dentist as they are familiar with your child’s teeth and should give you good advice on what you can learn from an orthodontic consultation. Here are some questions to ask one or both of these professionals:

Ask about the function of the teeth, not just how they look

Braces and other orthodontic treatments can be performed for functional reasons, e.g. B. to make sure your child’s teeth don’t make it too difficult to chew their food or speak clearly. And they can be done for cosmetic reasons and basically make the teeth look nicer. These interests often overlap, with straightening teeth serving both purposes. So if you’re not concerned about the appearance of your child’s teeth, you need to be specific about whether there are health or functional concerns.

Ask about the pros and cons

This question doesn’t just apply to braces; it should be your guiding principle for any Interview with a healthcare provider. If you are considering treatment, ask:

  • What are the benefits of this?
  • What are the disadvantages?
  • What happens if we don’t?
  • What are the alternatives?

If the answer to “What if he doesn’t get braces?” is “maybe his teeth will be a little crooked,” then you can make your own judgment based on how crooked they are and how you and your child feel about them. On the other hand, if the answer is that your child may be having trouble breathing or swallowing, that may be a stronger reason to proceed with braces.

Ask for results

I don’t just mean asking to see before and after photos of patients with similar baseline situations, although that can be helpful. Make sure you research the possible outcomes of starting orthodontic treatment and the likelihood of each outcome. Sometimes braces don’t completely solve the problem (especially if your child doesn’t wear their braces consistently). And success rates can vary depending on the type of devices used, your child’s age, and other factors.

Ask about the timing

Just because you’re at the appointment now does not mean that this is the last or only chance for your child to get braces. Some problems may have reached an optimal age to fix them. Some things can get better or worse over time. If you’re not sure about moving on, ask if you had to wait a year before making a decision if anything would be different. And if you feel like you’re being pressured, or you’re not sure if you trust everything your orthodontist says, you’re welcome to get a second opinion.

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