If you’re like me, you can remember a time in your life when cleaning your braces with a Waterpik™ was part of your daily routine. While most of us didn’t fully understand the implications of receiving braces as a child, we can look back thankfully on this financial gift from our parents.
I get it now! Investing in braces for a kid is quite a task considering the burden on time and finances. According to Oral B, the cost range for traditional braces ranges from $3,000 to $7,000 – and who can calculate the time cost of mom taking you to all those pre- and post-ortho visits. Because of this, it’s important to look at the pros and cons before coming to a decision.
A recent study showed that roughly 45% of children need braces to fix functional problems, but up to 75% of kids could benefit from braces to straighten their teeth and improve the shape of their face. These stats show that there is a definite need for braces in our world today – no parent wants their kid to look like Austin Powers (groovy, baby!).
To provide some expertise on the topic, I spoke with Vicki Hawkins, who has worked as an Operations Manager for 19 years at Apple Orthodontix in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Here are her answers to 4 questions that need to be addressed before deciding to invest in braces for a child…
1) What is the best age to investigate braces?
Deciding when to start looking into investing in braces for your child can be complicated. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, an orthodontist should evaluate a child by the age of seven. By tackling the issue early on, parents will be able to diagnose the situation more effectively and be able to expect which specific treatment lies ahead for their child (oh, and start the savings plan!).
2) When do most kids actually get braces?
As Vicki points out, “the best age to get braces is when all primary (baby) teeth are lost. This age varies anywhere between 11-14. In some cases, it is desirable to do an early treatment when a patient has mixed dentition (some baby teeth and adult teeth present).” Although the age varies, kids typically get braces when their parents are ready to make the investment. Vicki explains, “A patient needs good dental hygiene, a commitment to their treatment and doing what the doctor requires (wearing rubber bands, etc.), as well as a parent who can afford the treatment and commit to regular appointments.” Although it is suggested that braces are applied at a young age, many adults can benefit from orthodontic treatment, too.
3) How long are braces typically worn?
According to Vicki, “treatment varies a lot from patient to patient, but the average is 18-24 months.” Fortunately for us, the use of modern technology has shortened the length of treatment, making it a faster and more comfortable experience.
4) Other than making teeth look good, are braces truly necessary?
“Braces aren’t usually be considered ‘medically necessary’ except in rare cases, but orthodontic treatment aligns a person’s occlusion (bite and overcrowding) so the teeth will last a lifetime.” In our “straight, white teeth” society, the aesthetic appeal that braces provide are important, but teeth that last a lifetime is the primary benefit of braces.
So there you have it! Although braces can be expensive, it’s worth the cost to look good and have a healthy smile for life. In conclusion, I’d like to publicly thank my parents for investing in my mouth.
Now it’s your turn! Did you have braces when you were a kid? …an adult? What was your experience? Do you still wear your retainer? Share your comments and questions below!