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Why Should My Child Get Primary Braces

Primary braces, or Phase I braces as they are also called, are important for some children who have dental problems.  If there is any concern about your child’s teeth, or their bite, they should have a consultation with an orthodontist by the age of 8.  Often it’s easier to correct the bite when the child is younger, and it typically results in fewer problems later on.

In some children permanent teeth do not line up with baby teeth, which can cause big problems.  If everything is working properly the permanent tooth grows in and pushes down on the root of the baby tooth making it erode or get smaller over time.  As the roots get smaller the baby teeth will become loose and you can pull them out.  If the permanent teeth do not line up with the baby teeth there is a chance that the permanent teeth will come in behind or in front of the baby teeth and the baby teeth will not fall out on their own.  An orthodontist can determine if this is the case, and sometimes the baby teeth need to be pulled in order for the permanent teeth to come in where they should.

Primary braces can move the permanent teeth around in order to open up space for the other teeth to come down into their proper place.  Once the teeth are where they should be, the braces can then be removed and switched for a retainer that will be worn to keep the open spaces open for newly arriving permanent teeth.  Once all the permanent teeth are in the orthodontist can determine if secondary, or Phase II, braces need to go on to finish straightening the teeth.

The benefits of doing primary braces are that they allow the orthodontist to guide the growth of the jaw bones, prevent the teeth from crowding, reduce the risk to the front teeth, change a sucking habit, and provide easier correction.

Some people may feel like it’s a waste of money to do primary braces when you are just going to have to put on and pay for secondary braces anyway, however certain things need to be corrected while the child is young.  The roof of the mouth can be expanded when the child is young, usually anywhere from 4 to 11 years old, but not when those bones fuse together once they’re a teenager.  The lower jaw can also be pulled forward to correct an under bite during childhood.

Getting the teeth to line up properly will also allow your child to have an easier time chewing.  This isn’t just a cosmetic fix; misaligned jaws can cause headaches, TMJ, and chipped teeth.

Phase I braces also treat airway obstructions.  If a young child snores and has sleep apnea they may not be getting enough oxygen to the brain.  This disruption in oxygen can cause ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), according to Kevin Sambuchino DMD.

Pricing for primary braces is usually significantly lower than for secondary braces.  The time commitment for primary braces ranges anywhere from 6 to 18 months.  Secondary braces can be on for years if primary braces were not worn.  If primary braces are worn, the timing for secondary braces becomes significantly shorter, cheaper, and mostly cosmetic.  The shorter duration in secondary braces reduces the chances for white spots to form on the teeth, which is called decalcification, and is a common condition after wearing braces for a long time.

Treatment does vary greatly from one child to another so your best bet is to have a consultation with an orthodontist to find out what treatment, if any, is needed and when.

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