Whether or not braces for kids are needed is a big deal for a parent.

It’s right up there with worrying about the cost of prescription drugs or an insurance policy, or anything else that doesn’t fit neatly into a family budget.

But unlike buying a big sofa or a new car, braces and orthodontic work are something you don’t just choose. You have to make choices based on the child’s needs.

So, can you prevent your child needing braces?

This is the ‘several thousand dollar question’ for most parents.

Parents are nervous about their financial futures having to pay for things like braces, and doing research into whether they can somehow eliminate this cost for their child.

The good news is there are some things that parents can do to promote good dental health and lower the chances that they’ll need expensive interventions in the future.

Brushing Helps

One of the most basic ideas in a kid’s orthodontic future is that it helps to brush and floss according to recommended brushing guidelines.

When you start out your kid with a toothbrush and help them to get those hard to reach areas, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of better dental health.

When you show them how to avoid swallowing toothpaste, how to brush back and forth and side to side, you’re helping them to protect the enamel of their teeth — and that can have an impact on whether they need braces some time later.

Some orthodontic experts claim that warding off decay helps lower the chance of a need for braces. Here’s one explanation:

One of the reasons kids need braces is that baby teeth can come out too early (sometimes because of extraction when they get cavities).

So, if you keep teeth free of cavities, that means there’s less of a chance that the teeth will have to be extracted, and less of a chance that the kid is going to need braces later on.

Inherited Dental Health

Here’s some of the not so good news — the need for braces can be related to genetics.

There are a lot of factors. Things like jawline and how teeth come in and, in general, how bone structures compare to the average person. There’s also the issue of overbites and underbites. These are often hereditary issues.

In addition, even kids who have parents with perfect teeth may end up needing braces. There is no guaranteed silver bullet in genetics for having a perfect mouth – parents and orthodontists will just have to see what the kid’s mouth looks like as he or she grows.

However, with early testing and consultation, you can help reduce the chance for braces in the future.

Early Orthodontic Interventions

Another factor here is early orthodontic consultations.

When it comes to making sure a child’s mouth is in good condition, some early interventions can work wonders.

That’s not just something that doctors say – in terms of orthodontics, it’s a consensus that early consults will work to determine some of the results of what that patient faces down the road.

Orthodontic specialists explain that when you get an early consultation, you can lower the chance of needing braces.

When orthodontists see patients who are too young for braces, they look at their teeth and jaws to really evaluate them in detail.

They measure the teeth and jaws and then look at what’s likely and possible for growth and development.

They will look at how baby teeth might fit into the equation, and when a baby tooth might be kept longer.

In closely inspecting pictures, there’s a lot that orthodontists can see relative to a patient’s future development.

In general, these specialists are going to give parents a better game plan to use when they’re choosing care in the future. They’re going to kind of give parents a preview window into what the child might face later on. And that’s going to be critically important in whether or not a child needs more orthodontic care later in life.

Braces for Kids: Fancy Technology

Another interesting thing to note is that today’s modern doctors use neat new machines to help with preventative consultations.

For instance, these specialists might take a 3-D digital picture of the child’s mouth which will help them to look at modeling for the future.

These images can also go into an archive that makes up a detailed patient record which can be useful in the future, not just for the year ahead, but for many years to come.

There’s also something new called Cone Beam Computed Tomography or CBCT — here, specialists can look at dental habits and much more to really analyze what’s going on inside someone’s mouth over time. The scan takes less than 10 seconds and brings a critical resource to doctors who are trying to minimize future interventions.

There’s also a new technology called Invisalign that substitutes plastic trays for the old metal braces design. This type of technology changes the work that has to be done in orthodontics. It’s really part of a more modern approach that can make braces easier for kids.

When kids do need braces, they can choose from various neatly coloured designs instead of that old silver stuff. Some of these new types of braces can be easier to work with, and easier to clean, improving the patient’s home care regimen.

All of these advancements in the dental world give parents and kids more options to choose from. Getting information up front at an early age is very important in controlling a child’s dental health. That includes their chances of needing braces later on during adolescence or later in life.

Talk to your dentist and work up a good schedule of care and a dental plan that will keep your kids in good shape as they grow. Get a clear picture of what’s going on with a child’s teeth, and you will feel more empowered to make the big decisions about what to do at any age, and how to manage your finances while still getting quality care and paying for what needs to be done.