Pediatric Dentistry

Why Straighten My Child’s Teeth? 10 Reasons to Get Braces for Your Child

Braces improve the health and appearance of your child’s smile.

As your child gets older, their pedodontist may recommend that you look into whether they’ll need conventional braces or interceptive orthodontic appliances to straighten their teeth. Braces are an incredibly effective and popular orthodontic treatment, but you may find yourself reluctant to sign off on them even after you’ve received an orthodontic consultation. While you want your child to be happy and healthy, braces involve a huge commitment of both time and money; if you’re on a tight budget, it’s natural and smart to want to make sure that every expense is actually necessary.

Although braces are often talked about in the context of improving the aesthetics of a smile, they also work to improve your child’s oral health and daily life in several vital ways. Here are 10 reasons you should seriously consider investing in braces for your child.  

1. Straight teeth lower your child’s chances of getting periodontitis and cavities.

Unfortunately, crooked and uneven teeth are simply harder to clean than straight, even teeth. There are more nooks and crannies for bacteria and plaque to collect in, which even adults can struggle to clean properly. These areas increase your child’s chances of getting cavities and periodontitis, which can both seriously jeopardize the health of their teeth. Since straight teeth are more uniform and easier to clean, they help your child better protect their oral health and reduce their chances of getting cavities or periodontitis for their entire lives.

2. Crooked teeth can lead to chronic jaw pain.

An uneven bite or crooked teeth can cause your child to have an improper jaw alignment, where the entire jaw doesn’t sit exactly as it should. This can result in temporomandibular disorder  (TMD), a condition that includes symptoms such as chronic jaw pain, frequent or severe headaches, popping or grinding sounds when moving the joint, and lockjaw, which makes it difficult to open or close the mouth. TMD symptoms like this can make simple tasks, such as eating or speaking, difficult and painful. Thankfully, straightening your child’s teeth can prevent them from experiencing this down the road.

3. Straight teeth lower your child’s chances of injuring their teeth.

If your child has crooked teeth, you may notice that several of their teeth protrude a little ahead of the rest. Even slight protrusions like this make teeth more vulnerable to injuries such as chipping, cracking, or getting knocked out. This is because a tooth that sticks forward, even a little, takes the brunt of hard impacts and presents a target for objects to catch on when they hit at an angle. In contrast, straight teeth come together to form a strong wall, distributing the impact of hits to the face across a larger surface area and sitting evenly so that an angled hit is much less likely to catch an individual tooth on the side. This helps prevent your child from suffering a serious dental injury.

4. Straight teeth may make eating easier.

Misaligned bites can make eating more difficult for some children for a few different reasons, making chewing feel stiff, awkward, or even slightly painful. Not all kids experience this problem, as plenty of kids who need braces never mention feeling uncomfortable when they eat, but it can worsen over time as your child ages.

5. Crooked teeth can wear unevenly.

When teeth are crooked or uneven, some teeth take on the brunt of the impact when your child chews or bites into food. Over time, this results in uneven wear on your child’s teeth, further impacting the appearance of their smile, causing tooth sensitivity in their worn teeth, and potentially worsening any existing problems with their uneven bite, such as headaches, jaw pain, or difficulty eating. Straight teeth, however, prevent this from happening by distributing the workload evenly.

6. Straight teeth can ease frequent headaches.

Even if your child lacks symptoms of full-blown TMD pain, an uneven bite might be the culprit if your child has frequent headaches. These headaches can be mild or severe and can vary in frequency, but straightening your child’s teeth can often greatly reduce or even stop these headaches.

7. Crooked teeth may cause your child to grind their teeth.

Children with an uneven bite or crooked teeth may begin grinding their teeth together in their sleep. This unintentional habit can cause your child to wake up with headaches, jaw pain or stiffness, or sensitive teeth and gums. Your child’s teeth are also in danger of chipping, breaking, or cracking from the forces exerted on them, leading to an emergency trip to the dentist that may require your child to get dental bonding or a crown. Even if your child avoids an immediate injury to their teeth, grinding their teeth against each other will wear their teeth down over time. Correcting your child’s bite can also stop this behavior, protecting your child’s teeth from future damage.

8. Straight teeth save you money over time.

There’s no denying it—braces can come with a hefty up-front cost. However, since straightening your child’s teeth can prevent so many dental issues down the road, from cavities and gum disease to worn or injured teeth, braces will likely end up paying for themselves and saving you a lot of money in the long run.

9. Straight teeth help your child build confidence.

Although it might be less practical than the many ways braces work to improve your oral health, the impact that braces have on the appearance of your child’s smile is certainly worth mentioning. Unfortunately, uneven or crooked teeth can make your child self-conscious of their smile, sometimes even to the extent that they go to the effort of avoiding smiling in public. Gaining a straight, even smile helps your child create a positive self-image and build self-confidence, both traits that will help them be happier.

10. Straight teeth impact others’ first impressions of your child.

Whether we intend to or not, we’re always forming first impressions of people based—at least in part—on their appearance. This includes someone’s smile, which is one of the first features people notice and remember about someone new. One survey-based study found that 45% of Americans believe that someone with a straight smile is more likely to get a job than someone with crooked teeth but equal education and job experience. The study also reported that, when participants judged their interest in dating individuals based on pictures alone, people with straight smiles were 57% more likely to get a date. As a result, having a straight smile can help your child make a good impression in professional environments and personal relationships.

While braces can be expensive, they’re often necessary—and they’re a long-term investment in your child’s oral health and self-confidence. We know that the expense of braces for your child is still a big concern for many parents, so you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Shea at our Rochester family dentistry practice to discuss your child’s treatment options and to receive an estimate of the cost as well as how much your insurance is likely to cover.

Pediatric Dentistry

10 Top Books for Kids About Going to the Dentist

Teaching Your Children About Dental Care

When your children are young, it can be hard to get them to fully understand why they need to brush their teeth, let alone get them excited about it, and taking them to their pediatric dentist can seem like a Herculean task. Thankfully, books about going to the dentist can offer a solution by teaching your kids about these topics in a fun way, mixing facts with entertaining stories that may even involve characters your children already love.

These books aim to get your kids excited about oral hygiene, teach them about its importance, and show them that the dentist really isn’t so scary after all. There are so many books addressing dentistry for children that it can be daunting to sift through them and find ones that match your children’s needs, so we’re sharing 10 books you can read to your kids before going to the dentist.

1. Brush, Brush, Brush! by Alicia Padron

If you’re struggling to convince your young children to brush their teeth, this book might help. It’s very short and simple, so it’s best for children between the ages of 1 and 3 years old. The book’s rhymes are meant to be sung, creating a fun tune for your little one that teaches them how to brush their teeth. It doesn’t tell a story or include sensory stimulation for younger kids, though, so a different book might be a better choice if that’s what keeps your small children interested.

2. Sugar Bugs by Erica Weisz and Sam Weisz

Robbie’s unhealthy habits attract a family of sugar bugs to his mouth; although they seem nice at first, Robbie soon learns that they aren’t. He visits the dentist, who shows him the neat tools he uses to get rid of the sugar bugs and shares three rules Robbie can follow to keep them away. The book uses kid-friendly language and explanations, making it a great introduction for your children about why oral hygiene and a healthy diet are so important.

3. Show Me Your Smile! A Visit to the Dentist by Christine Ricci

Dora the Explorer is a popular TV show famous for its ability to engage children by asking them direct questions that allow them to interact with the characters, and this book uses the same strategy to keep your children engaged. It encourages your kids to find images hidden in the background and even includes a matching game. The engaging style and simple language enable the book to entertain kids between the ages of 3 and 7, teaching them all about what happens at dental appointments. Dora brings up a range of important topics such as dental cleanings and X-rays, explains what a cavity is, and describes the dental tools kids’ dentists use to treat them.

4. The Teeth That Looked for a New Mouth by Jill Jones

In this colorful book, Luke doesn’t care for his teeth like he should, so his teeth go looking for a better mouth. This cute story uses a catchy rhyming scheme as it follows the teeth on their journey, during which they talk to different animals who want them. Their journey is interesting and enjoyable, but it also carries a solid message that young children can easily understand about the importance of taking care of their teeth.

5. Jacob Learns to Brush His Teeth by Anthony Heath

Like Luke in The Teeth That Looked for a New Mouth, Jacob doesn’t like brushing his teeth—no matter what his parents or pedodontist say. One night, Jacob finally decides to try brushing his teeth after watching his parents complete their usual oral hygiene routine, and he decides he likes the way it makes his teeth look and feel. This book doesn’t go into a lot of detail, so while your little one will learn it’s important to brush their teeth, they won’t learn how. Still, this book’s beautiful illustrations, cute rhymes, and worthwhile message make it an entertaining supplementary read for your child.

6. Daniel Goes to the Dentist by Alexandra Cassel Schwartz

Daniel Tiger has a dental appointment, so his mom encourages him to brush his teeth before they leave and sings a song to help him remember how to do it well. This is a detail that you can add to your child’s oral hygiene routine, especially if they love Daniel. He’s a little nervous when he arrives, so Daniel’s dentist explains the entire process to him as she cleans, examines, and polishes his teeth. In addition to giving your child a basic idea of what to expect from a dental visit, it’s a cute, colorful story with a relatable character who’s honest about being a little nervous—but who overcomes it and realizes his dentist is really nice!

7. The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums by Edward Miller

Ideal for curious children between the ages of 5 and 8, The Tooth Book includes a ton of information about teeth, how to care for them, and what happens when you don’t. It also prepares your child for their appointment with the pediatric dentist by helping them learn what to expect. The book also teaches them emergency dental care for kids; this helps your children get the best kids’ emergency dental care if something happens. In addition to this practical information, it teaches your kids about the anatomy, history, and lore of teeth. This is one of the rare dentist books for kids that is absolutely packed with information. It’s especially great for kids who love science and learning.

8. The Magic School Bus and the Missing Tooth by Jeanette Lane

When the kids find a lost tooth in their classroom, they go on a mission to find out whose tooth it is. Along the way, they learn about different types of teeth in humans and animals, their jobs, how they develop, and why our baby teeth are eventually replaced by adult teeth. It’s a colorful and entertaining read for first and second graders who are beginning to lose teeth, and it will teach them a lot of genuinely useful and interesting information along the way!

9. Chirpy Charlie’s Teeth by Marta Zafrilla

Charlie is a bird who watches his owner, Julie, brush her teeth every morning to avoid getting a cavity and filling. He decides he needs to look after his teeth, too—but since he’s a bird, he doesn’t know how! After Charlie tries a lot of different creative methods without success, Julie points out that he doesn’t have any teeth—just a beak! The story and art are adorable and entertaining for your children, but it doesn’t provide very many hard facts; its message about the importance of oral hygiene is still clear, however, so it makes a great supplementary read for your little ones.

10. Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi

This book follows Jake and Jessie when they visit the dentist; although there isn’t much of a plot, it provides a step-by-step explanation of a dental appointment. It also goes into a little detail about removing a cavity, describing the numbing shot and dental drill. This can be very useful if your child needs a filling, but it’s easy to skip over if you’re worried the details will scare your little one. Generally, however, these explanations remove the unknown elements of their visit, which helps relieve dental anxiety.

Whether you’re trying to prepare your children for their first appointment with their pediatric dentist, reduce their dental anxiety, or teach them about oral hygiene, books are a fun and engaging way to make the lesson stick. Accomplishing these goals will make your life easier and will benefit your children for the rest of their lives!