Dental benefits

Are braces in my future?

Braces can cost a lot of money and can contribute to a few awkward years. But they are well worth the investment.

Orthodontics can help correct teeth that are crooked, crowded or misaligned. These issues can stem naturally from the jaw simply not having enough room for all of the teeth. Or they can develop from thumb-sucking, mouth breathing or poor nutrition. If these problems are not corrected, they can cause issues with eating and talking. They can also make taking care of teeth more challenging, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Your dentist and orthodontist are uniquely qualified to help you fix these problems. They will also monitor your progress and help you avoid potentially costly complications.

Check with your dentist on whether you or your child need braces — and what’s the best timing. It’s usually better to make dental corrections early, while children are still growing and it’s easier for their teeth and bones to move. A first visit to the orthodontist is recommended by age 7. Many families wait until children have most of their permanent teeth, around the ages of 10 to 14, before getting braces. But this can vary from person to person.

If your dentist recommends braces, check with your dental plan to see if orthodontic treatment is covered.

Sometimes coverage is limited to children under 18. Other plans have waiting periods or a maximum amount that will be covered. Be sure to check if there are any types of braces that aren’t included and if you need to see an orthodontist in your dental plan’s network.

An orthodontist can recommend which type of braces is best for you or your child. Here are four types of braces available:

• Traditional metal braces can be customized with different colored bands.

• Clear or tooth-colored ceramic braces may also include clear wires.

• Lingual braces are placed on the back of the teeth.

 Clear custom-made plastic aligners are nearly invisible and look like mouth guards.