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The Ultimate Guide to Braces for Kids

Written by Dr. Chaw Su Kyi on March 27, 2023

Teeth are for life. When a child’s teeth first erupt, starting a lifelong mission to care for them is essential. The health of your child’s smile often depends on the type of food they eat and their oral hygiene routine. Once a cavity forms, the enamel will never grow back.

If your child’s teeth are overcrowded, it can make brushing difficult. Plaque bacteria can easily become trapped between the misaligned teeth, risking your child’s oral health and smile. But these problems don’t have to be permanent. We can use braces to gradually straighten your child’s teeth, improving their future health.

There are several different types of braces for kids, from traditional fixed metal appliances to clear removable aligners. Each orthodontic treatment has its benefits, but it’s helpful to understand the various options to make an informed decision for your child.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about braces for kids.

Types of Braces for Kids

As a leading children’s orthodontist, we provide a range of effective treatment options, each with its own benefits.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional fixed metal appliances probably spring to mind when we talk about braces. Fixed braces have metal brackets bonded to the teeth with a metal wire threaded through. The wire is then held in place with tiny elastic bands.

Like many other types of orthodontic treatment, fixed metal braces use a small amount of constant force to move your child’s teeth into a new position. The wire creates this force. To straighten crooked teeth, we’ll gradually tighten the wire throughout the treatment.

We’ll typically see your child every six to eight weeks during treatment. We’ll assess the teeth straightening progress at each appointment and adjust the wire.

Children love having different colours on their brace, which can be changed at every brace adjustment appointment.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces work like conventional metal braces; however, the brackets are transparent. Like metal braces, we need to adjust this type of appliance throughout treatment.

There are many types of ceramic braces for kids; however, not all have the same level of durability. We use the 3M Clarity brace system, which has a subtle appearance while providing the same effect as metal braces.

If your child has a deep overbite, we won’t use this type of brace on the lower teeth as the ceramic or porcelain material is hard and would risk wearing down the softer enamel on the back of the upper teeth. This is true for both children and adults.

Invisalign (clear aligners)

Invisalign is an excellent alternative to fixed braces. Like other types of orthodontic treatment, gentle force is used to make gradual tooth movements. Unlike fixed appliances, a clear aligner is removable and requires no brace brackets or wires.

We provide two types of Invisalign treatment; Invisible First for younger children and Invisalign Teen.

Because Invisalign aligners are clear, it makes treatment discreet. The almost great aesthetics of the invisible aligners are perfect for self-conscious teenagers.

As Invisalign aligners are removable, your child can eat and drink without worrying about food getting trapped between the wire and teeth or around the fixed brackets. This means they can enjoy the same food as usual.

Oral hygiene is also easier to manage when a child has removable aligners. Invisalign aligners are easy to clean, and your child can continue brushing their teeth as taught.

If your child plays contact sports, Invisalign is a safer option. In the case of a knock or fall, there’s less risk of soft tissue injury and no chance of the brace’s brackets or wires breaking.

Children that play brass or woodwind instruments won’t have to adapt either. Because the aligners are removable, your child can play without their braces getting in the way.

In many cases, Invisalign treatment is also less painful than fixed braces for children.

Although Invisalign is a versatile treatment option, it may not always be suitable. More complex cases may best be treated using a fixed brace in conjunction with Invisalign. With over a decade of experience, Dr Chaw-Su Kyi can provide you with the best treatment option to provide you with the most optimal results.

Damon Braces

Damon braces are a type of fixed appliance. They can be either metal or ceramic braces. The fundamental difference between Damon braces and other appliances is that they are self-ligating. This means they don’t need elastics to hold the wire in place. This, in turn, reduces the amount of friction in the system, and the tooth can move a little quicker with fewer appointments. Typically, we will see your child every 8-12 weeks.

For some types of crowded cases, Damon braces can offer an advantage over traditional braces.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are fixed appliances bonded to the back of the teeth. This makes the treatment invisible; however, because we want to ensure the younger kids have a positive orthodontics experience, we only recommend it for children over 15 years, as this type of brace is not as comfortable and takes longer to get used to.

Again, like other fixed braces, we’ll adjust the wire periodically to straighten the teeth fully.

Which Type of Braces for Kids Is Best?

With over ten years of experience working with each brace system, Dr Kyi will always offer an unbiased opinion on which type will work best for children’s teeth.

Finding the right option means evaluating the effectiveness and duration of the treatment and the outcomes you hope to achieve. Additionally, your child’s orthodontic treatment needs match their lifestyle too.

Dr Kyi always asks questions to understand your child’s needs so she can help you make informed treatment decisions.

What Is the Best Age for Orthodontic Treatment?

As a parent, you will naturally want to make the best decisions about your child’s dental health. You might ask, “how early should a child wear braces or aligners?”

Why is Early Intervention Important?

Early orthodontic treatment can prevent many dental health issues later in life. In fact, the problems you experience in your adult teeth can often stem from issues with your baby teeth. The development of children’s teeth dictates how their jaw bone will grow and, ultimately, the position of their adult teeth.

By having a child’s teeth straightened early, it’s possible to prevent later dental health irregularities. Misaligned teeth later in life can make brushing teeth difficult. Poor oral hygiene will then result in tooth decay.

While there are adult braces that can fix these issues when they become most apparent, treatment is often shorter and more straightforward at a young age.

From What Age Are Braces Recommended?

Typically, we would recommend braces once all adult teeth have erupted. This is usually around the age of 11-13 years. That said, we suggest your child has an orthodontic treatment assessment earlier, at around 9-10 years of age.

If your child has had earlier orthodontic treatment to fix an overbite, crossbite, or overcrowding, it may reduce the need for complicated adjustments later in life, which could involve extractions.

What Factors Are Considered When Determining the Best Age for Braces?

The dental age of your child is an essential factor in deciding when it’s best to have braces. Some kids still have baby teeth when they’re as old as 15, while others will have adult teeth before age ten.

We recommend having an orthodontic assessment around the age of 9-10 years to assess the development of your child’s teeth.

The type of malocclusion your child has will also influence when they should receive treatment. Your child may have protruding teeth, an overbite, crowding, gaps between teeth, impacted teeth, or habits like thumb sucking that affect dental development.

Treatment for overbite using a functional brace that corrects jaw position and works as your child grows works best at 11-13 years of age in girls and between 12-14 years in boys.

Providing orthodontic treatment while your child’s jaws and teeth develop will provide the best results. After the age of 16, there is less growth potential.

When treating younger smiles, we often use Invisalign First. Like regular Invisalign treatment for teens and adults, these removable, clear aligners gently move your child’s teeth. This is generally a quick, simple, and effective treatment option available to children from around seven.

Cost of Children’s Braces

Before we can begin treatment, you’ll have questions about the cost of orthodontic treatment. So, can your child receive NHS orthodontic treatment?

Are Braces Free in the UK?

In some cases, free orthodontic treatment is available for kids. The Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need (IOTN) grading system assesses NHS treatment using free braces. The IOTN grades go from one to five, with five being the most severe. Only severe cases are eligible for NHS braces.

What Are the Waiting Times for NHS Braces?

It’s crucial to consider waiting times for NHS treatment. Your child may need to wait for up to two years. But even then, they may need to wear their free braces for a further two years.

Once your child starts treatment, they will need to attend appointments. These will often fall during school hours, and due to the length of the wait, your child may be sitting their GCSEs or A-Levels. Sometimes, your teenage child might still have braces by the time they’re attending university. With this in mind, it’s best to seek early assessment and treatment.

What Payment Options Are Available?

Paying for your child’s treatment at West London Orthodontics is simple. You can either pay in full or in interest-free monthly instalments. To pay monthly, we’ll first take a deposit, and then you can pay the remaining balance over the next 12 months.

Are Kids’ Braces Comfortable?

Comfort levels vary when comparing orthodontic care, and it’s natural to want the smoothest treatment option.

How Much Pain Can Be Expected?

Within the first three days of your child wearing braces, their teeth will start to move. At first, this can feel uncomfortable, and they may experience a dull ache.

Occasionally, a fixed brace may rub the inside of your child’s cheeks. To help protect the cheeks, we can provide a special wax.

How to Manage Pain and Discomfort

Any discomfort in the first few days after having braces fitted is easily managed with paracetamol, ibuprofen, or Calpol and usually subsides after around five days.

How to Avoid the Brace Breaking

Fixed braces can break if your child bites or chews anything hard. Avoid chewy and sticky foods to prevent breakages and ensure your child doesn’t bite pens and nails.

Avoiding acidic and fizzy soft drinks can also help protect your child’s brace.

How to Help Your Child Adjust to Their Braces

Any discomfort experienced in the first few days will pass, and after around five days, your child will be used to wearing them. Providing softer meals can help during the adjustment period.

We will advise your child on how to clean their teeth and braces. Brushing with braces will take some getting used to, but provided a good oral hygiene routine is followed, your child will maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout the treatment.

Braces for Kids at West London Orthodontics

Many children experience issues with the position of their teeth, and early treatment can reduce the risk of dental problems later in life.

The type of orthodontic treatment needed always depends on the individual. At West London Orthodontics, we have a wide range of options to suit everyone, including fixed appliances and removable aligners.

Dr Chaw Su Kyi is a leading specialist orthodontist with a wealth of experience delivering treatments to young children and teenagers. In her expert hands, your child can expect a bright dental future.

Call today to schedule your child’s orthodontic assessment.


West London Orthodontics offers the most advanced orthodontic care for children and adults. Serving patients in Hammersmith, Shepherd's Bush, and Chiswick, Dr Kyi and her team specialise in various brace options, including Invisalign. Book a consultation today.

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