APPLIANCES USED IN CHILDHOOD
For children, the best time to start orthodontic treatment is between 6 and 8 years of age. That’s why it’s important to visit the dentist at this age – when permanent teeth start to replace milk teeth – to catch any issues in time.
In this period, we have a wider range of options to treat any possible problems, as we can also stimulate the growth of the jawbone. With early treatment we can achieve complete facial harmony and a perfect bite.
Orthodontic appliances for children
The appliances described below can be used for milk teeth and for mixed teeth.
- Traditional, removable metal-acrylic appliances
- Fixed braces
- Invisalign – invisible braces
Before orthodontic treatment, we can use a so-called pre-orthodontic trainer. This is a removable and comfortable brace made of flexible silicone which helps to harmonize mandibular growth, correct the alignment of growing teeth and stop children from sucking their thumbs or other bad habits which are an obstacle to the proper growing of teeth.
As the child grows, from as early as the age of 4, a trainer can help teeth and jaws grow correctly, all the while teaching them to breathe through the nose, to hold their tongue in the right position and to swallow correctly. Research shows that these factors have a decisive influence on the development of the face, the mandibles and the teeth.
Trainers alone can solve many problems, and their use often helps to avoid the need for later orthodontic treatment altogether – or the need for tooth extraction, which is often necessary for orthodontic therapy. If a fixed appliance is needed in later years, the wearing duration is significantly reduced.
The theory behind removable appliances is slightly different from fixed braces. The main objective here is to change the swallowing and breathing of the child and influence the way the jaws and teeth grow as much as possible. With early preventive therapy using trainers, we can often avoid the need for tooth extractions and surgery later on. In cases of minor issues, trainer therapy is enough to ensure the perfect function and alignment of the bite after losing milk teeth.
Regular, daily wear is of course needed for achieving the desired results. The appliances also require continuous monitoring by an orthodontist.
In most cases – provided the dental issue is not severe – the orthodontic therapy can be carried out solely by using a trainer or a removable appliance. If this is not the case, and further treatment is required, it will be done with a fixed appliance.
There are various fixed appliances made of metal or porcelain (ceramics) – or a new technology known as invisible braces, the Invisalign product line, now also available for children.
The bonded appliances used in fixed orthodontic treatments (for example, fixed braces) can be made of metal, a traditional and cheaper solution, which is better for oral hygiene, as it is easier to clean, and food residues are less likely to stick to it. Some metal braces are self-ligating, which shortens the time period required for the therapy. If an aesthetic solution is important, you can choose ceramic braces in the same color as the teeth, or braces which are mounted on the inner side of the teeth, facing the tongue.
After the start of treatment, you will regularly need to visit your dentist for reactivations – depending on the type, this can vary between every 2-12 weeks. Treatment by fixed orthodontic appliances usually take 2-2.5 years. The therapy doesn’t end after the bonded appliance is removed: an appliance called a retainer has to be worn until the teeth have solidly set in their new position. This appliance can be removable (nightly retainer) or fixed (bonded).
During orthodontic treatment, the patient and their dentist need to stay in close cooperation to achieve the best possible result with the fewest possible side effects.
Oral hygiene should be a priority throughout the treatment. In addition to brushing three times a day, patients also need to use a special toothbrush, interdental brushes and dental floss. This has to be complemented with occasional oral hygiene treatments at the clinic.
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