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Friday, March 7, 2008

How to Prepare Your Child For Orthodontic Treatment And Braces

In order to prepare your child for Orthodontic treatment it is necessary for you, most of all, to first know what is orthodontics and what is going to be done, so that you can then explain things in a much better manner to your child.

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is that branch of dentistry that focuses on the development, prevention, and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite, and jaws. Only a specialist can carry out an Orthodontic treatment. The problems that can be helped or minimized with proper orthodontic treatment are as follows:

· Misaligned, crooked, or crowded teeth
· Missing teeth
· Extra Teeth
· An Overbite
· An Under bite
· Misaligned or incorrect jaw position
· A disorder of the jaw joint

Orthodontic treatment is generally done when a child is between 10-14 years old. At this age a child has a mixed dentition, normally, which consist of both milk teeth and permanent teeth, which are just beginning or have already erupted in the oral cavity. At this stage, the growth, development and position of the permanent teeth can easily be intercepted to correct any irregularities that may be observed.

Types Of Orthodontic Appliances:

There are generally two types of appliances that can be used for treatment depending on the severity of the condition. 

· Fixed Orthodontic Appliances
· Removable Orthodontic Appliances

Removable orthodontic appliances are generally used only in mild cases of irregularities and consists of an acrylic plate with an orthodontic wire adapted to the teeth so as to apply pressure in the required area to either push or pull teeth inwards or outwards depending on the condition.

Fixed Orthodontic appliances, or Braces, are more complicated and have several components that need to be fixed on the teeth. The components of this kind of appliance are as follows:

· Brackets, metal or plastic, clear or tooth-colored, that are bonded to teeth
· Bands that wrap around the teeth - usually used in the back of the mouth
· Wires to move the teeth into the desired positions.
· Elastics, springs and other auxiliaries to aid in treatment

An Orthodontic Treatment Involves:

The child’s first appointment will involve a complete orthodontic evaluation by the specialist, which includes taking the necessary amount of X-rays and any other investigation that may be required. During this sitting you will find out if your child needs orthodontic braces or not. If your child requires braces then a second appointment is fixed where the preliminary procedures are carried out to prepare for the fitting of the braces. This involves taking any extra X-rays, Upper/Lower impressions of the teeth, photographs (before treatment record), which help the dentist to plan and decide the best course of treatment and the duration it may be required.

Depending on the type of orthodontic treatment needed, it may take several visits to prepare your child for orthodontic treatment and to put the braces on, after which, a return visit is needed every 4-8 weeks to adjust them and to monitor treatment.

Detailed instructions will be given on brushing, flossing and diet on the day your child has his/her braces put on.

Prepare Your Child For The Treatment:

Now that you know all the procedures that are going to be carried out, you need to start preparing your child for all the visits, one at a time. It may require several visits to prepare your child for braces. The most important aspect here is the psychological and emotional support that needs to be given so that your child is mentally ready to accept the challenges that he/she will face after the braces are on.

You need to be aware of the fact that once the braces have been fitted, it will be very uncomfortable and may also hurt a lot in the first few days as the child and the oral cavity adjusts to these new intrusions in the mouth. Therefore, you need to have a lot of patience and understanding of what your child will go through, not to mention the psychological discomfort that he/she faces when other children will tease him/her about the braces, which may take two to three years to remove. That’s a long time!

What you need to do is explain and discuss each step in detail to your child and help them overcome their anxieties one by one. Take one appointment at a time. Let them meet other people or children who are also undergoing similar treatments, so that they can see for themselves what it’s going to look like. Remind them, again and again, of the ultimate goal; that is to look good! You could show them the before and after pictures (there will be plenty of them available at the dentist’s office) of people who got similar braces.

If your child has expressed anxiety about any of the procedures at home, it would be best to let the dental staff know about it, so they can be extra patient or friendly to help alleviate these concerns in the appropriate manner. Last but not the least; listen to all of your child's concerns without prejudice. Be sympathetic and encouraging. Emphasize the positive outcome.

Oral healthcare and braces:

Once your child has the braces on, these are the precautions and healthcare needs that you will have to be diligent about.

# Make certain that your child is brushing his/her teeth carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, as food becomes easily lodged in the braces. It is recommended that children hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and brush along the gum line. Brushing often and properly, in addition to dental cleanings every six months, is important to reduce the risk of cavities and gingivitis (bleeding of swollen gums). 

# Make certain that your child is flossing daily between the teeth and the braces. Use floss threaders in conjunction with standard floss or super floss to help floss under and between brackets and wires.

# Maintain every six-month cleanings by your child's dentist or orthodontist, or as recommended. 

# Limit your child's sugar and starch intake, as debris left behind from these types of foods may turn into damaging acids, which may be harmful to teeth and gums and promote plaque formation.

# Avoid hard and/or sticky snacks that may be difficult to remove from the orthodontic equipment in your child's mouth. This includes foods such as popcorn, hard or soft candy, caramel, and/or nuts.

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