Orthodontics goes beyond simply improving your child’s smile.
It feels like an age-old story: A young teen goes to the dentist or orthodontist and emerges with braces decked out in their favorite colors. While braces have only become common in recent generations, they’ve practically become a rite of passage. Braces are incredibly effective and well known for aligning kids’ bites and straightening their teeth, making their smiles more beautiful and confident than ever.
But if your child doesn’t have orthodontic issues that are immediately visible, you might find yourself asking, “Does my child really need braces?” If your child’s dentist or orthodontist has recommended them, then the answer is yes! Braces can certainly improve the appearance of your child’s smile, but that’s not all they do. Here are 10 ways they actually improve your child’s oral and overall health.
Braces relieve TMD symptoms.
Everyone’s jaws have an ideal position that helps them fully relax when not in use, but misaligned jaws don’t relax into this ideal position. This puts extra strain on the joints and can lead to a wide range of symptoms referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Common symptoms include jaw pain and frequent or severe headaches. Even if your child doesn’t currently have TMD, complicating factors can cause them to develop it later in life. Getting orthodontic treatment now can relieve any symptoms they may be experiencing and help prevent TMD in the future.
They help stop bruxism.
When your child’s bite is misaligned or their teeth are uneven, they’re much more likely to suffer from bruxism, which is a term for habitually clenching or grinding teeth together. This habit is often subconscious and can take place whether they’re awake or asleep, but it can damage teeth over time and lead to chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. By helping your child’s jaws and teeth align, braces can help stop bruxism and protect their teeth from damage.
They reduce wear and tear on teeth.
Teeth wear down as we age, but they should do so at the same pace. If your child’s teeth are uneven, certain teeth—or even an entire side of their mouth—may experience more pressure as they chew. Over time this can cause some teeth to wear faster than others and lead to issues like sensitivity or visible shortening of the teeth. Thankfully braces prevent this by evening out their bite before that wear takes place. This saves your child from future dental procedures and keeps their teeth healthier.
Braces make great oral hygiene easier.
Did you know that straight, even teeth are easier to clean than crooked ones? When you think about it, it makes sense! After all, teeth that are crooked or crowded are harder for the toothbrush or floss to reach even if your child is trying their best. Straightening their teeth eliminates these hard-to-clean areas so your child has an easier time with their oral hygiene routine. It might seem like a small difference, but it can be crucial for your child’s long-term oral health.
They help prevent periodontitis and the illnesses associated with it.
By making your child’s teeth easier to clean thoroughly, braces also help prevent gum disease, including periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most severe form of gum disease and can even lead to tooth loss and permanent gum damage if it goes untreated. This infection can allow oral bacteria into the bloodstream, which is linked to increased risk of many different health conditions including heart disease and diabetes. Thankfully, periodontitis is easy to prevent if your child brushes and flosses properly, but braces make prevention even easier.
They freshen breath.
Bad breath is a struggle for many people, especially teens. Since one of the leading causes of persistent bad breath is poor oral hygiene, making it easier for your child to clean their teeth well can make a big difference in their breath. This in turn can help your child feel more confident in social situations and quit worrying about their breath.
Braces improve airflow and breathing.
It may sound strange at first, but misaligned jaws can impact your child’s airflow and breathing in a couple of ways. After all, your airway starts in your nose and mouth, and the shape of your mouth is determined by your jaw position. This impacts how open your airway is. So your ideal jaw position doesn’t just allow your jaws to relax but also keeps your airway as open as possible.
If your child’s airway is being narrowed by misalignment, braces can resolve the issue and help them breathe easier. Pediatric dentists or orthodontists may also pair braces with myofunctional therapy, which involves doing daily exercises to strengthen certain muscles in your child’s jaw, lips, and cheeks to resolve issues like mouth breathing.
They relieve sleep apnea symptoms.
Opening up your child’s airway helps them breathe easier—including in their sleep. If your child suffers from sleep apnea, braces might help resolve their symptoms, though this depends heavily upon the cause and severity of their case. Relieving sleep apnea symptoms like fatigue, frequent headaches, difficulty concentrating, and snoring can be a game changer for your little one. Not only will they feel more energetic in the short term, but alleviating sleep apnea and the health risks that go along with it means that they’ll likely be healthier in the long term too. Braces can also relieve snoring unrelated to sleep apnea, so you might get to sleep without your child’s snores echoing through the house. Your child (and their future partner) will thank you!
Braces influence overall health.
Braces play a role in preventing or relieving many issues that can impact overall health. Even with straight teeth, your child will still need to take great care of them to reap all the benefits of good oral health, but a healthy, clean mouth and clear airway improve your child’s chances of having a healthier heart and lower blood pressure. It can even make it easier to keep existing conditions like diabetes under control. This is valuable no matter how old they are.
They improve mental and emotional outlook.
Braces are famous for their ability to transform smiles, making them straighter and more beautiful. This transformation can have a very real impact on your child’s mental and emotional outlook by giving them a much-needed boost in self-confidence and self-esteem. After all, our smiles play a significant role in the way we view ourselves. Even a small, positive change can feel like a big deal to your child. For many kids, this aspect alone makes braces worth it, and it’s a benefit that will stay with them for their entire lives!
Braces for kids may be a rite of passage, but they come with many benefits. They help your child feel comfortable and confident with their smile and make it easier for them to maintain great oral health—and stay healthier overall as a result—for a lifetime. If you’d like to visit a pediatric dentist to learn more about braces for your child, feel free to schedule an evaluation with Dr. G or Dr. Mo at our Vancouver office.