Braces in Wilmington, DE

An optimal time to begin to assess your child's orthodontic alignment is at the age of seven years old. Around this time, the first molars and incisors have erupted, and we can begin to determine if there will be crowding in the future.

Bad bites lead to cavities, worn teeth, gum disease, and jaw joint problems. Treatment often begins between age nine and thirteen, when problems are first discovered, so as to provide optimal results while the child is still growing. An attractive smile is a critical form of communication and social interaction. Correcting a crooked smile may give your child a boost of confidence!

Between the ages of seven and eleven, your child's mouth will be undergoing tremendous changes. His/her jaw and mouth are still growing, and this is a perfect time to intervene in a non-invasive way, if necessary. For example, if your child has a narrow palate and crowding is apparent, a palatal expander may be in order. This is not painful and is used on the inside of the roof of the mouth. As your child grows, it will help to expand and widen the upper arch. In this way, the secondary teeth are provided with ample room to erupt, and crowding and crooked teeth can be circumvented. This may either eliminate the need for surgery and braces in the future or at least minimize orthodontic issues.

Left untreated, some orthodontic conditions can be quite uncomfortable. Let's talk about underbites (think Jay Leno), a condition where the lower jaw actually protrudes farther out than the upper jaw. If not corrected, this can result in pain in the jaw, wear and tear to the enamel, an increased chance of caries (cavities), speech problems, and self-consciousness.

Other situations that may warrant orthodontic intervention include overbites, missing teeth, extra teeth, incorrect jaw positioning, or other joint disorders. The ideal age to begin orthodontic treatment is between nine and thirteen years of age; however, people of any age will benefit from having orthodontic treatment. It’s important to recognize, though, that an adult mouth must overcome already formed facial and bone structure and may require more extensive work.

Besides the now popular Invisalign braces, fixed orthodontic appliances are quite effective. These include:

  • Brackets bonded to the teeth, which are available in a variety of colors and materials
  • “Invisible” lingual-type brackets, which we attach to the backs of the teeth
  • Metal bands that wrap around the teeth

Oral healthcare and braces

It is very important to take special care of your teeth while you are wearing braces. In particular, you should:

  • Brush your teeth carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, since food becomes easily caught in the braces.
  • Floss daily.
  • Make sure you see your dentist for a good cleaning every six months.
  • Limit how much sugar and starch you eat. These foods tend to leave behind debris, which bacteria metabolize into acid, which damages the tooth structure and encourages plaque formation. Try to brush after snacks!
  • Avoid hard and/or sticky snacks that may be difficult to remove from the braces. Potentially problematic foods include hard foods (hard candy, popcorn, ice chips, nuts) and sticky foods (caramel, chewing gum, taffy and other sticky candies).

To help prevent the white spots that sometimes appear on teeth after braces are removed, we apply a fluoride varnish around the brackets.