Do you think your child needs braces?
Your child’s big front teeth have just come through and as they’ve been growing, you’re watching and wondering… will my child need braces?
If this sounds like you, you probably have a million questions about when to start the process, how much it costs, how long the braces will be on for… just to name a few.
The Editor of Families Magazine was in this position recently, so we gate crashed her appointment with Image Orthodontics at Nundah, and the lovely Dr Sep, Senior Lecturer: Griffith University answered all of our questions.
At what age should you see an Orthodontist?
If you suspect your child needs braces, they should be visiting an orthodontist at around age 8. This is the official recommendation by Australian society of Orthodontist and Dr Sep explains why:
At this point, most children have some of their permanent teeth, but their mouths are still developing, giving the orthodontist a chance to step in and intervene if any treatment/prevention is needed before the braces are actually needed at age 10 to 13.
Now you may be wondering why you should start visiting an orthodontist when your child is 2-4 years away from actually having braces installed. Well I was.
To cut a long story short, Dr Sep advised that this gives him the opportunity to monitor the changes happening in your child’s mouth, and make sure that development of teeth and jaw are going smoothly.
“More often than not, the kids don’t need any treatment at this age” he adds.
A few examples are:
- if your child’s jaw is too narrow an expander (plate) may be installed to help make room for the teeth that are still coming through.
- if your child is still sucking their thumb at age 7 or 8 and you haven’t been able to stop this, a “habit breaker” can be used to prevent this from happening.
- if your child’s teeth are bucked out and being teased at school or they take part in contact sport, a short treatment to bring them back in not only reduces the chance of trauma, but may also enhances your child’s self confidence.
In addition to this, Dr Sep advised that setting expectations with kids at a younger age makes it a lot easier on the child as it gives them some time to get used to the idea.
Image Orthodontics advises:
- The first appointment should be at age 8
- Follow up appointments will be scheduled every 6 to 12 months (normally yearly)
- The cost is $90 for the first appointment
- NO further charges for the follow up appointments until (if or) when your child needs treatment!
The reason for this? The initial planning will make it easier later and may reduce the amount of time that braces will need to be worn.
The first appointment with an orthodontist
The first thing to note is that you DON’T need a referral from a doctor or dentist, you can simply go ahead and book an appointment.
Given the purpose of the first appointment is to document the current status of your child’s mouth and teeth, you will be asked to get some X-rays done prior to coming in.
Nundah Radiology is walking distance from Image Orthodontics and:
- You don’t need an appointment, you simply turn up half an hour before your appointment with Image Orthodontics
- It’s walking distance from Image Orthodontics (it’s a few blocks away, both locations have plenty of car parks, so it is easy to drive).
- There is no charge, the X-rays are covered by Medicare
- They will give you the X-rays immediately, so you’ll have them for your appointment.
As previously mentioned, the ideal time to get braces is around 10 – 13 years of age (typically 12 years for girls and 13 years for boys).
Once you have decided to go ahead, the first step is choosing the appropriate system, yes, there are different types.
Some of the options that kids have available today are:
- The typical metal braces
- Invisible braces
- Coloured braces (apparently these are by far the most popular with kids today, and they can even change their colours regularly … State of Origin colours, Christmas colours, Halloween theme)!
- Invisalign for teenager
- Insignia: braces that are custom made for each individual
During the first appointment, Dr Sep discusses all of the options with you and your child, a decision is made, then they are put on during the next appointment.
How long to braces stay on?
If you do everything at the right time, braces or invisible braces will usually stay on for around 9 to 18 months. During this time you will see the orthodontist (roughly) every 6 to 8 weeks.
What happens when the braces are removed?
Once the braces are removed your child will need to have a either a fixed or removable retainer for 3 years. By following this process it ensures that the result will “stay” and their growth and development won’t undo the work that has been done.
The cost of braces
Most orthodontists require an upfront lump sum payment, with the rest of the payment happening during treatment.
Image Orthodontist, however, allows you to spread the cost over 3 years (with no initial payment and no interest). The price is fixed and starts from $45 per week. This amount will include the cost of retainers and follow up appointments for three years.
How to get free braces
We wrote an article about how to get free braces here.
How to tell if your child needs braces
Keep in mind, the age of your child DOES matter. It’s best to start the process at age 8 to ensure that any pre-treatment can be done, helping to make it easier later and potentially minimise the amount of time that braces will be worn.
Secondly, by ensuring that your child is wearing braces at age 10-13, you’re making the process a lot easier (rather than leaving it until they are older) by giving the orthodontist the chance to use their growth spurt to their advantage.
Finally, if you time this right, not only will the process be easier, but thinking back to when I was this age, I wouldn’t have blinked at having braces on at 12 years old, by age 15 the boy crazy teenager version of me would have been less than co-operative…Alex was pretty excited about the idea of coloured braces ?.
Contact Image Orthodontics on 07 3260 6855 NOW to book your school holiday assessment.
This article was published in Issue 23 of our print magazine, August/September 2017.