Malocclusion is one of the most common oral health problems in childhood. In a study carried out in the Community of Madrid, it was found that 58.21% of children suffer from malocclusions, of which 13.93% require dental treatment. In most cases, the treatment of choice is braces.
Braces are the most common fixed orthodontic method for treating dental problems. Basically, it is a support that adheres to the teeth and is interconnected through a system of wires or arches that join the different pieces. Its objective? Put enough pressure on the teeth to correct their position in the long term.
When are braces recommended?
Braces are the most common treatment in cases of childhood malocclusion, which is nothing more than the incorrect alignment of the teeth due to a problem of bone growth in the maxilla or mandible and/or the position of the teeth. The objective of the use of brackets is to correct the skeletal alteration and/or the position of the teeth with respect to the bone to improve dental aesthetics and facilitate adequate chewing.
Braces are generally recommended to correct crowding of the teeth, but it is also a useful resource to treat excessively spaced teeth, open or reverse bite problems and tooth rotation. They are also an excellent treatment to correct dental protrusion, a condition in which the teeth are too far forward and stick out.
The main types of braces
When talking about braces, most parents think of traditional metal braces. However, although this system is still used today to correct some dental malformations, there are also other types of orthodontics. These are the main types of brackets used in oral treatments.
Metal or conventional brackets
It is the oldest and cheapest version of braces. Basically, they work through rubber bands that are attached to the arch that aligns the teeth. One of their greatest advantages is that they can be customized with a multitude of designs and colours, which makes them an especially attractive option for the little ones at home. Its use is very effective but slow.
Clear or aesthetic brackets
Aesthetic brackets have gained a lot of ground in recent years thanks to the fact that they are practically imperceptible. Its system is very similar to that of metal brackets, but they are made with light-colored materials that can even imitate the color of teeth. Whether they are made of ceramic, sapphire, or polycarbonate, they are very effective at solving bite and tooth alignment problems. In addition, as they are made of biocompatible materials, they are safe for children with metal allergies.
Unlike conventional brackets, these do not need ligatures to attach to the arch of the dental appliance since they do so through a gate mechanism or integrated tabs. This makes them less visible, while making brushing easier and preventing food debris from accumulating. By having a self-adjusting mechanism, it is not necessary to go to the dentist every so often to adjust the brackets. In addition, they are much more precise when correcting the position of the teeth, while shortening the treatment time thanks to the optimization of the use of forces.
It is a system of metal braces that works basically the same as conventional brackets, but instead of adhering to the visible face of the teeth, they are placed on the inside. In this way, they are completely invisible from the outside, making them much more aesthetic. As in the case of self-ligating, they do not need rubber bands to join the mechanism, but instead they are more uncomfortable, more difficult to clean and often cause problems with speech.
A very popular alternative to braces is Invisalign. It is a removable orthodontic treatment based on a system of splints or transparent aligners that fits over the teeth to exert pressure on specific points. Being transparent, it is a more aesthetic system and since it can be removed and put on, it is much more comfortable to wear, while facilitating oral hygiene. However, beyond its advantages, the choice of one type of orthodontics and another may vary from one case to another since it depends on several factors such as the child’s age, the alteration to be corrected, the severity of the malocclusion or the presence of other health problems.
What is the best age to place braces?
The Spanish Society of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics recommends that children attend their first orthodontic consultation at the age of 6. This is because from this age the first permanent molars begin to emerge, which will serve as a guide for the rest of the teeth and will form the basic structure of the bite, so if there are malocclusions, it is much easier to correct them from an early age. .
However, at the beginning it is advisable to start with removable orthodontic appliances to correct problems such as crossbite, bony alterations of the mandible or maxilla or mandibular advancement. It will not be until the permanent teeth have emerged, around the age of 11 or 12, that the use of braces in children is recommended to solve malocclusions.
How long does braces treatment last?
The duration of braces treatment varies greatly from case to case, depending on the severity of the malocclusion, among other factors. In milder cases, treatment can last from 3 to 12 months. However, in the most complicated cases, the use of brackets may be necessary for 2 or 3 years. Of course, once the treatment is finished and the malformation corrected, the result will last a lifetime.
How much does braces treatment cost?
The price of braces treatment usually varies depending on the type of device and the severity of the malocclusion. In general, metal braces are usually the cheapest since their price ranges between 2,500 and 3,000 euros. Treatment with other types of brackets usually have a higher price that can amount to between 3,000 and 4,000 euros, or in the case of sapphire brackets even 5,000 euros. It is worth noting that these prices may vary from one clinic and autonomous community to another.