Besides being attractive, straight teeth are also indicative of a healthy bite. When there is misalignment, it could lead to a host of issues eventually. Luckily, there is a tried-and-tested solution.
The way that you can adjust the positions of your teeth is by using braces treatment. There are many types to suit different needs and budgets. Apparently, manufacturers fabricate kids braces as well that are just as effective as those for adults.
If your offspring suffers from some form of malocclusion or has other bite problems, you should definitely take them to a dentist or orthodontist to evaluate their case and prescribe an adequate treatment. In the meantime, check out the different types of braces for kids teeth, how they work, and how they compare to each other, cost-wise.
Why Do Kids Have Crooked Teeth?
Crooked teeth in kids can happen for various reasons, such as:
- Tongue thrusting
- Facial trauma
- Pacifier use after the age of one
- Early tooth loss due to decay or trauma
- Thumb sucking
What’s the Right Age for Braces?
These days, braces treatment for children starts at around the age of 10-14. At this point, the jaw bone is still responsive to repositioning.
Although there is no set age for this, the general rule of thumb is that the child has lost all their baby teeth. This is just going to make everything much easier. However, there are cases where kids can get braces as early as 7 years of age when they still have some primary teeth left. It depends on the particular situation.
At the end of the day, the decision is made by an orthodontist during a screening exam. They need to take different factors into consideration. X-rays and other tests may be run to inspect the position of the teeth in the mouth.
For this and other reasons, if you are not sure about the treatment, it is vital to visit a specialist who went to dental school. During the initial consultation, they will determine the most suitable method for your child's smile and when to begin treatment.
Does My Child Need Braces?
Watch out for the following signs that your child needs braces:
- He or she struggles to chew food (probably has some malocclusion on the lower teeth or upper teeth that is not so visible)
- The jaw is clicking
- The transition from baby teeth to adult teeth was too slow or irregular (e.g. if your offspring lost a tooth too early, it can make the surrounding teeth sink into the empty gap)
- You can see blocked or crowded teeth
- Your child is breathing through the mouth
- They are grinding their teeth, especially at night
- The teeth are not proportionate to the face
- Your little one has a habit of sucking their fingers
When Should You Not Get Braces?
Before you or your child gets braces, you need to verify there is no existing tooth decay, gum disease, cavities, or tartar. The teeth should be in a good state overall. There has to be enough jaw bone. If it's damaged, it's advisable to put off the treatment.
What Treatment Options are Available?
So, you have made up your mind to get your offspring braces. But the questions keep on coming. What are the best types of braces for kids? What are their advantages and how much do they cost? Here is more on the topic.
Traditional metal braces
The traditional form of brackets is a stainless steel appliance that has the following components:
- Metal brackets: the tiny square that you see on the archwire
- Rubber bands
- Elastic ties
The brackets have metal ties that hold them in place. They are called ligatures. The rubber bands come in various colours, which means you can customise your braces so they suit your personality better.
Metal braces can treat just about any malocclusion, including the most severe cases. They are also the most durable as compared to other teeth-straightening alternatives. With respect to cost, these are cheaper than any other type of braces.
Now, because they are made of metal, conventional braces may disrupt signals in imaging tests. In addition, you need to stay away from certain foods that have the potential to damage braces. Sometimes particles get trapped in the metal brackets and rubber bands, making it nothing but daunting to keep the teeth clean.
Further to this, there are periodic adjustments of the brackets (tightening), which requires multiple appointments with a dentist.
Metal braces are perfectly suitable for children. The fact that they come in so many colours makes the decision easier.
Ceramic braces are what their name suggests: dental appliances made of ceramic. The best part is they are tooth coloured. In terms of mechanism of action, they are the same as metal braces, only they are less visible. They have ceramic brackets.
What this type of braces for children can fix:
- Crossbites, underbites, overbites
- Misaligned or crowded teeth
- Abnormal tooth wear
- TMJ disorders
- Gaps between the teeth
As far as advantages are concerned, ceramic is a type of material that does not interfere with imaging tests. Plus, you are free to choose your colours (although if you picked this one, it's because you don’t want to experiment with colours in the first place).
One downside to point out is the fact they are less durable and more expensive than traditional braces. Another noteworthy disadvantage is that they could stain. All things considered, you should talk to a specialist to figure out whether to use metal or ceramic braces for your unique biting issues.
Invisible aligners are by far the latest advancement in teeth straightening technologies. There are no metal wires to bother you. Aligners are a set of plastic mouthpieces that are slid over the teeth. They apply moderate force to the jaw, helping to shift the teeth in predetermined positions.
One of the biggest advantages is that they are removable. Patients are instructed to take them out before meals and put them back in afterwards. As a result of that, no foods are off limits with this method. And the plastics won’t stain as long as you don’t eat or drink while you are wearing them.
Clear aligners should be on for 22 hours every day for maximum effect. Otherwise, the treatment may fail to produce the expected results. Each week, patients receive new pieces to better control the straightening process.
What invisible braces can fix:
- Open bite
- Gaps in child's teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Crowded teeth
Invisible aligners work for mild to moderate cases but they are not effective for more complicated cases. They are suitable for kids with a bad bite, yet they may not be the best option. Children tend to be forgetful. They may fail to wear their aligners for 22 hours straight each and every day, thus slowing down their treatment and compromising the results.
By contrast, with fixed braces, it is only the dentist who can remove the dental appliances. This guarantees full treatment compliance.
Lingual braces treatment
Lingual braces are pretty much like conventional metal braces, but with one major difference: they are affixed to the back of your teeth which makes them practically invisible.
Since the tongue is in constant contact with them, they are called what they are called. Because of that, patients may experience more pain than usual and also develop a lisp in the initial stages of the treatment plan. The good news is that it goes away later on. All braces cause some form of speech problems at the beginning.
What bite problems these fixed braces can correct:
- Crossbite (when the upper teeth are positioned behind the bottom teeth)
- Open bite (there is no occlusion of the teeth when you close your mouth, i.e. there is no contact between the teeth)
- Overjets (an overjet is when the upper front teeth are positioned further away from the lower teeth)
Lingual braces are great for almost all kinds of bite problems and they remain out of sight for other people. But they are also more costly than other types of braces.
Also called Damon braces, these straighten the child's teeth the same way as traditional metal braces but have one particular difference: the mechanism by which the archwire is secured to the brackets. Instead of a metal tie, there is a metal 'door' that holds the wire in place - hence the name self-ligating.
There are two main types, active and passive. The former applies force on the archwire by pressing on it, whereas the latter does not apply any pressure to the archwire.
What they can fix:
- Open bite
Periodic adjustments are necessary for these to work, just like with traditional metal braces. However, the appointments with an orthodontist are much shorter, cleaning is easier, and there is less discomfort.
When it comes to the average duration of treatment, there appears to be no difference between conventional and self-ligating braces, although the latter could be able to speed up initial teeth movement.
Are There Any Dangers to Wearing Braces?
Orthodontic care doesn't always go as planned. Wearing braces comes with some side effects and discomfort that you should be aware of.
Expected side effects
Aside from the normal irritation in the early stages of the treatment plan, your child may find it difficult to eat before it gets fully used to the appliances.
Unexpected side effects
For one, there may be an allergic reaction to the rubber band in the metal braces. If your child has any known allergies, you should communicate that to the child's dentist ahead of time. This will play a role in determining the best treatment for your little one.
Second, wearing braces may lead to decalcification from a lack of good oral hygiene. It shows as white marks on the teeth. To prevent this, you should brush your teeth regularly and use an irrigator in those spaces between the braces and teeth.
Wearing braces can also result in tooth decay and poor oral health because it's more challenging to keep the mouth clean at all times. This problem should not be overlooked as it could cause gum disease over time.
Sometimes there is a loose wire that is poking the mouth. It needs to be tightened. If you notice any worrisome symptoms, you should contact the dentist right away.
Cost of Braces for Kids Singapore
There is no fixed price for children's braces. Generally speaking, expect to budget from S$3,500 to S$6,000 upwards. Retainers clock in at S$600+ per piece. Why does it vary?
First and foremost, the cost of braces depends on the type of braces you pick. The most budget-friendly option is traditional braces (S$3,500-S$4,200) followed by self-ligating braces (S$3,338-S$5,340) and ceramic braces (S$5,000-S$6,000).
On the higher end of the price spectrum are invisible aligners, running between S$4,200 and S$9,000. Without a doubt, the most expensive type is custom lingual braces, which are estimated at S$10,000.
Next, the braces cost is also determined by the number of arches you need and the severity of your child's case. The more complex it is, the more you are expected to pay for your treatment. Another thing to take into account is colour. If you want to have coloured braces, it may add to the overall cost of your treatment.
Other factors that affect the price are your dentist’s expertise, your location, as well as any health insurance benefits you can avail of.
The best way to determine how much you will pay for your braces is to take your child to the dentist or a child's orthodontist and have a thorough examination.
It's worth noting that health insurance in Singapore does not cover braces treatment.