The seasons seem to fly by, quickly turning into years. Before you know it, your little one is not so little (they grow up so fast!) and it’s time to consider braces. At Proud to Serve Family Dentistry, we highly recommend early intervention when it comes to orthodontics.
Contrary to the popular belief that you should wait until teeth and jaws have finished developing, the teeth are easier to move into the proper position while they are still growing and changing. We recommend you bring your child in to see us for an initial consultation around the age of seven, but if you missed that boat—don’t worry, it’s never too late for orthodontics!
Is it ever “the right time”?
There is no “wrong” time to get your child or teen started with orthodontics, and your decision should depend on many personal factors, including scheduling and finances. However, there is one time of year that’s proven to be better than the rest for starting the orthodontic journey—summertime (and the weather’s fine)!
You may anticipate objections from the peanut gallery like, “But it’s SUMMER! I don’t want to spend my summer with braces!” That’s why we’re here to give you some ammo in this discussion—so you can provide reasons they will be much happier getting their braces in the summer than during the school year.
You remember counting down the last few seconds before the final bell rang on the last day of school…aahh, sweet freedom! No more early bus rides, no more homework, no more tests, and no more teachers for three whole months! Plus, no more after-school extracurriculars. Even if your kids participate in sports, clubs, or other activities during the summer, those are likely to take a few hours per day rather than the 6-8 hours spent at school during the year—and this freed-up schedule allows for increased flexibility to get started on orthodontic treatment.
We hate to make kids miss any days of school, so summer is an ideal time to get these initial, lengthy orthodontic appointments out of the way. By the time the first day of school rolls around again, they will only need to come in for quick and easy checkups. Our schedules at Proud to Serve Family Dentistry and other dental and orthodontic offices usually fill up much more quickly when school is in session, so summer is an easier time for appointment scheduling for everyone!
Orthodontics have come a long way in recent years, but the process still involves moving bones (yes, teeth are bones)—and that can be quite uncomfortable, especially at first. That’s another reason we suggest starting orthodontic treatment in the summer, to give kids and teens some extra time to hide out at home while they adjust to their braces. Sending kids straight off to school with a mouthful of brackets and wires and a sore jaw just seems cruel—and it’s bound to make focusing on their studies a bit more difficult.
Braces require a lot of adjustments, and not just with the braces themselves—the wearer must make hygiene and diet changes to accommodate their new gear. Summer is the easiest time for these transitions. When there are no classes, there’s more time to stock the fridge with soft foods—and they’ll have time to practice their new oral hygiene routine, which is easy to let slide when they get busy with school and sports.
During the school year, when one kid gets braces, the other kids all know about it—they leave school one day brace-free and come back the next with a mouth full of metal. (Nicknames like metal mouth, brace face, and tinsel teeth come to mind.) On the other hand, if kids get their braces on during the summer, it’s likely that only their close circle of friends will see them until they get used to them a little more.
When they do return to school with their new braces, it will have been so long since everyone else has seen them that their classmates may not even notice. They will have been wearing them for a few weeks, so they will feel more natural and confident about their temporarily metallic smile—and their teeth may even have started to straighten out a bit!
Aside from convenient scheduling and wanting your child or teen to feel as comfortable and confident as possible, there is also some science involved in our reasoning for starting orthodontic treatment in the summer. The best time for straightening teeth is during their maximum growth period.
Kids generally go through growth spurts and then go into a lag period until the next spurt, and studies show that growth spurts tend to happen most during the long days of summer. While researchers are still studying the exact cause of this phenomenon, the most likely factor involves the pituitary gland as it relates to the length of the days and increased heat. Whatever the cause, it’s just one more reason to get those braces on before the heat of the summer so the teeth will move as easily and effectively as possible.
As an oral healthcare provider, we can’t officially “recommend” a diet that’s high in ice cream—but hey, it’s summer! As if kids and teens need another reason to enjoy frozen treats on a hot summer day, ice cream IS on the list of ortho-approved soft foods. Score! Plus, a soft, cool treat can work wonders to soothe not only the soul, but sore teeth and gums, too. There are healthier and equally delicious ice cream alternatives to consider as well, including frozen yogurt and fresh-fruit smoothies.
Just be sure to stress the importance of keeping up a diligent oral hygiene routine, which is particularly important during their time with braces. Increased sugar in the diet combined with new hardware to work around can be tricky, so remind them to rinse with water frequently after eating and drinking (especially something sugary), and to brush and floss more regularly (and use their orthodontic picks) to clean between the teeth and around the gum line to prevent cavities and gingivitis. Conscientious oral hygiene will ensure their smile is not only straight and beautiful when the time comes to remove the braces, but also that it’s healthy as it can be.
No matter what time of year, Dr. Audrey of Proud to Serve Family Dentistry in Norman is here to make your child or teen’s orthodontic experience as easy, convenient, and comfortable as possible. If you’re interested in setting up a consultation, we would love to speak with you! Contact us today to get started. Your kids may not thank you right away—but their bright, healthy smiles will be thanks enough in the end!