The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends children get an orthodontic checkup no later than age 7. While you might think this is a premature suggestion, an early checkup may prevent more serious problems down the road and make treatment quicker and easier at a later age. When your child does need orthodontic treatment, orthodontists are likely to use braces to correct the problem.
Why Do Kids Need Braces?
Children can need braces for a variety of reasons. This includes:
- Straightening crooked teeth — Braces can realign teeth by applying constant, gentle pressure. This is commonly done using small metal brackets cemented to the teeth and connected by wire. When your child visits an orthodontist, they usually tighten them to shift the teeth into the correct position. Metal braces aren’t the only option, though. Other choices include ceramic braces, lingual braces, and invisible aligners.
- Guiding permanent teeth into better positions — Permanent teeth can sometimes grow in wrong positions, especially high in the gums. Also, permanent teeth can overcrowd, leading to poor quality gum tissue. Braces may fix these problems.
- Correcting bite problems — A crossbite is one of the most common reasons kids need braces. It’s a misalignment of teeth, usually when the top and bottom teeth don’t come together properly. If left untreated, a crossbite can lead to several dental problems, including chipped or worn teeth, jaw pain, and asymmetrical jaw growth. Braces are a way to fix this issue and other bite problems such as underbites, overbites, deep bites, and open bites.
- Closing gaps — The main problem with gaps between teeth is that your gums are exposed when you eat food. Food particles can get stuck between these gaps, which can build up plaque and possibly lead to gum disease. Braces can help close these gaps, resulting in a beautiful, healthy smile.
What Signs and Symptoms Point to My Child Needing Braces?
Does my child need braces? You may get an answer to this question by looking for these signs and symptoms:
- Difficulty chewing or biting — This can signify that your child has misaligned teeth or jaws.
- Early or late baby teeth loss — If your child lost their baby teeth early, their teeth might move into the empty spaces before their adult teeth emerge. On the other hand, losing baby teeth too late can cause alignment and spacing issues.
- Crowded teeth — Crowded teeth are difficult to clean properly. If left untreated, your child may experience tooth decay, bad breath, or gum disease.
- Abnormal bites — Crossbites, overbites, underbites, open bites, and deep bites are all signs that your child may need braces.
- Thumb or finger sucking — If your child sucks their thumbs or fingers, it can pull their front teeth forward, which may cause crowding on their bottom teeth.
How Much are Braces for Kids?
Various factors can affect the cost of braces, including the severity of the problem, the estimated length of treatment, and your location. Generally speaking, though, Pennsylvania Dental Association suggests that the cost of braces can range from $3,000-$10,000.
The cost can also change depending on your child's braces. Here are some of the most common options and their estimated costs:
- Traditional metal braces — $3,000-$7,000
- Ceramic braces — $4,000-$8,000
- Lingual braces — $8,000-$10,000
- Invisible aligners — $4,000-$7,400
Finding Potential Savings for Braces
Braces are expensive. Even if you have dental insurance, it typically only covers the first $1,000-$1,500. After that, you must pay the rest out of pocket. However, a dental savings plan can help reduce the cost of braces after reaching your insurance’s annual maximum (this must be coordinated with your orthodontist before treatment begins). If you don't have dental insurance, a dental savings plan can be used on its own to help lower your expenses.
With a dental savings plan, plan members can save 20-25% on orthodontic procedures at any participating provider, as well as 10-60% on other dental care procedures your family may need. You can call us at 1-833-735-0399 if you have any questions about dental savings plans, or how much you could save on braces.