Many people will require braces at least once in their life, with the majority of kids having them put in in primary school.
However, while they are a pretty regular sight on a lot of people, there are many things to consider before you go down the route, including cost, availability and dental planning.
Here we give some information to help you and your child along the way.
What are braces?
Firstly, dental braces are devices that are used to move teeth or adjust the underlying bone. They are used to straighten crooked teeth, relieve pressure on joints in the mouth and align the upper and lower jaw. Depending on your child’s teeth they may need fixed braces (train tracks) or in more serious cases, headgear may be required too.
The first point of contact is your dentist before deciding on the best plan of action. Orthodontists are usually the next step as they are experienced in straightening teeth and ensuring your child gets the best care possible.
Your first visit:
When you visit your orthodontist, you should ask them plenty of questions regarding your child’s plan for the next few years.
Each case is not the same so while you may have one child who needed very little done, another child could need significant work.
Most treatments can take between two to three years but again, it depends, and it could take longer or be shorter.
Talk to your child before these appointments as children can be nervous. It is also best to be honest with them as some procedures will hurt. Remain calm and encourage your child to look after their teeth in between appointments like daily brushing, flossing and not eating too many hard sweets or fizzy drinks.
Once your child has braces, they must learn how to clean both the braces and their teeth. Orthodontists will not be impressed with dirty teeth or unhygienic oral care, so this is something you need your child to understand.
Take note of the advice and pay attention. Depending on your child’s treatment plan, you may need them to remove their brace or retainer. They must be careful with those devices and if your child is using bands, they should carry them everywhere as well as changing them regularly.
You may need to help your child with some things at home too. For example, your child may need a palate expander, and this requires regular turning – something the orthodontist will teach you to do.
The cost is something that most parents worry about and it is a viable concern as they aren’t cheap. Braces, and again it depends on the treatment needed, can cost anything from over a €1,000 to €5,000 approximately.
The saving grace is that most clinics offer payment plans for such treatment and it is advised you shop around for the best quote. However, always do your homework on the orthodontist and ask friends or family who they have used in the past.
The HSE provides orthodontic services to those who have severe problems and there are eligibility tests. Your dentist will help you if they think your child may be a candidate for the scheme. Be aware though that there are significant waiting lists.
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.