Types of Braces

Types of Braces

There are lots of different brace options available to straighten children’s teeth. These include fixed braces, removable appliances, twin blocks, headgear and retainers. Contact Octagon Orthodontics for an assessment to find out f your child requires orthodontic treatment.

Here is a list of typical braces that might be used in the treatment of children:

Removable appliances

Removable appliances

These can be used to push individual teeth into correct positions or to widen/expand the jaws.

"Twin Block" & Functional appliances

These are special removable braces which can help control and manipulate the growth of the jaws. Certain types of functional braces can be fixed into the mouth.

"Train Tracks" or fixed braces

When glued to the teeth each bracket can correct the positions of individual or groups of teeth. Special fixed appliances, called rapid palatal expanders, can be used to expand or widen the roof of the mouth to create space for crowded teeth or to improve the bite.

Headgear

Headgear

These are used to move the upper teeth backwards and can sometimes be useful to slow down the growth of the upper jaw. A variation, called a facemask can be used to pull the upper jaw and teeth forward.

Retainer

Retainers

These can be removable or fixed, and their main purpose is to hold the teeth in place to prevent any movement.

Whilst it might seem unusual for a child to receive orthodontic treatment at a very young age, growth should be viewed as an advantage which can make orthodontic treatment more successful. If treatment is matched to the expected periods of dental development, then the orthodontist can make use of your child's growth to deal with problems which, if left, may eventually require very complex treatment or even corrective surgery.

Because there isn’t a one size fits all approach in orthodontics, a unique treatment plan is drawn up for each and every child. After your orthodontist has diagnosed your child, a bespoke treatment plan will be made which might include one of two approaches:

  • Two-phase treatment
  • Single-phase treatment

Two-phase treatment is advised depending on which factors are found after a clinical, photographic and x-ray examination of your child. It involves splitting the orthodontic process into two separate time periods, or phases, with the aim of creating a better environment for your child’s permanent teeth. The first phase is performed whilst your child has mostly primary or “baby” teeth, and the second phase will occur when most or all of the permanent or “adult” teeth have grown into the mouth. Typical appliances used during two-phase treatment include removable braces, expansion devices to widen the jaws and fixed braces to manipulate the positions of the teeth.

“The aims of the first phase” as one orthodontist explains, “are to prevent potential problems that may develop, to solve any problems that have already developed and to guide the growth of the jaw bones that support the teeth.” The benefit of this phase will enable your child to bite or chew more efficiently and it will also contribute to long-term stability (meaning that teeth will more readily stay where the orthodontist has moved them). After the first phase, there will be a period of maintenance or retention (to allow the teeth to settle), during which your orthodontist will review your child frequently during the year.

When your child’s permanent teeth have all appeared, your orthodontist will judge whether they have grown into the correct positions and if not, a second phase of treatment will be recommended. In this case it is likely that your orthodontist will advise the use of another course of orthodontic appliances or braces. Most patients will require this second phase of treatment once the permanent teeth have established themselves – the objective being to finish the process of aligning the teeth and jaws.

Single-phase treatment is recommended when your orthodontist has determined that there are enough permanent teeth present for your child to have comprehensive orthodontic treatment performed in one single time period. This will usually involve having to wear braces or ancillary appliances, followed by a retention device, which would have to be worn for a long period of time to keep the teeth in the corrected position.

The length of treatment of either two or single-phase treatment will depend on several factors, including the severity of the problem and the age of the patient. No matter which format is followed, treatment success is influenced significantly by cooperation between the parent, child and the orthodontist.

Below is advice on how to ensure your child’s treatment is successful:

  • Follow the instructions given to you for the specific appliance being worn
  • Keep the appliance, teeth and gums clean, by brushing and flossing as prescribed
  • Avoid foods and drinks that may damage the appliance and your teeth
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Keep all your scheduled appointments with the orthodontist
  • Visit your dentist at least every six months to maintain your child’s dental health

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