Braces For Your Kids
Some kids can’t wait to get braces. Others are a little worried about what it will be like or how they will look. It can help to learn more about braces, which straighten your teeth and make your smile even better looking.
Lots of kids don’t have perfect teeth, so don’t worry if yours aren’t straight. Take a look at most of your classmates. Many of them probably don’t have straight teeth either. Sometimes teeth just don’t grow in evenly.
Your teeth might be crooked, or your upper and lower jaws might not be the same size. If your upper jaw is bigger than your lower jaw, that’s called an overbite. If your lower jaw is bigger than your upper jaw, you have an underbite.
Either way it’s called malocclusion (say: mal-uh-kloo-zhun), a word that comes from Latin and means “bad bite.” Malocclusion is just a word that dentists use to describe the shape of your mouth.
Your dentist might notice one of these problems during a regular visit and recommend that you see an orthodontist (say: or-thoh-dahn-tist). This person may also be called a braces specialist. He or she can determine whether you need braces.
Types of Braces
If your parents had braces, you may have seen pictures of them with their mouths full of metal. Today, braces are much less noticeable. Metal braces are still used, but you might be able to get clear braces or braces that are the same color as your teeth. There are even braces that go behind your teeth where no one can see them.
The wires that are used in braces today are also smaller and better than they used to be, and they’re made of a space-age material that straightens your teeth faster and easier. The rubber bands that go along with braces come in funky colors now, too. So you could have black and orange ones for Halloween!
How Braces Work
Braces straighten teeth by putting steady pressure on your teeth and by staying in place for a certain amount of time. Most kids just need regular braces with wires and rubber bands doing their jobs to keep pressure on the teeth. The wires on your braces help to move your teeth, and the rubber bands help to correct the alignment (say: uh-lyne-munt), the way your teeth line up.
If your teeth need a little extra help, you may have to wear head or neck gear with wires attached to your teeth. If you do have to wear headgear, don’t panic! You probably will only have to wear it at night or when you’re at home in the evening.
Everyone has to wear braces for different lengths of time, but most people usually wear braces for about 2 years. You’ll want to take special care of your teeth after the braces come off. You may need to wear a retainer, which is a small, hard piece of plastic with metal wires or a thin piece of plastic shaped like a mouth guard. Retainers make sure your teeth don’t go wandering back to their original places. Your retainer will be specially molded to fit your newly straightened teeth.
After you get your retainer, your orthodontist will tell you when you have to wear it and how long — you might have to wear your retainer all day and all night for 2 years, you might have to wear it at night for 6 months, or you might have to wear it every other night for many years. It just depends on your teeth.