For parents wondering if their kids need braces, we spoke with several local experts who let us in on the basics — everything from why kids need them to the cost and more.
Dr. Philip Bomeli, orthodontist at Solon Orthodontics, says braces are more accepted and accessible today than they once were. Braces are also more patient-friendly and they have become easier to clean around, he says.
“Long ago, some of the means of moving the teeth were pretty uncomfortable, and it was only reserved for those who really needed it,” he says. “Before it was like, ‘Braces, do I really have to?’ But there are definitely some (kids) that come in that are super excited and they are ready to go.”
Digital scanning and 3D printing are a couple of the latest technologies his office uses.
“From a diagnostic standpoint, we no longer need to take impressions to have a hand-held set of plaster models for patients,” Bomeli says. “We are able to simply scan their teeth and now we have digital models of their teeth. Those scanners alone have eliminated 80 percent of the impressions we take at our practice.”
Dr. Jordan Roth of Fried & Roth Orthodontics in Lyndhurst says the orthodontic journey can be a fun process.
“(This includes) anything from picking the fun colors and rubber bands to putting on their braces to seeing the transformation every day in the mirror, and of course, showing off the new smile once your braces come off,” he says.
Roth explains that kids often get braces for proper growth, development, function, arch expansion and airway management. Of course, other reasons might include aesthetics, self-confidence and self-esteem.
“In general, parents want their kids to have braces, and they’ll make sacrifices elsewhere in their lives to make sure that their kids get orthodontic treatment, and to help set them up for success later, whether that’s socially or in the job market,” he says.
Braces are now lower profile, so they don’t stick out toward the cheeks and lips as much, and they have rounder edges and more accurate milling and design, Roth says. There are different shapes and colors available (silver, clear ceramic and gold).
According to Roth, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontist visit by age 7 to make sure all their teeth are present and developing normally.
“Many don’t need treatment at all, and we will just monitor them until the ideal time to put braces on,” Roth says. “That way, they are on for the shortest amount of time.”
Dr. Lisa Lehky of Fairlawn & Cortland Orthodontic Specialists says the amount of children who get braces remains the same, but the number of adults receiving orthodontic treatment has increased due to more insurance benefits covering adult orthodontic care and options like back-of-your-teeth braces (InBrace) and clear aligners (Invisalign).
She agrees that new advances in treatment are a boon to those looking to get braces. “Digital impressions, no more goop, digital X-rays, which provide the orthodontist immediate treatment planning options, or lingual, also known as braces on the back of the teeth, are some of the new advances,” she says.
Common questions orthodontists hear about braces include queries about cost, duration and pain, Lehky says.
The average cost of braces varies between $3,500 and $6,000, she says. Financing and payment plans are available.
“We collect as low as $500 and divide the remaining balance up over the duration of treatment,” she says. “We can split the monthly payment up weekly, too. We exhaust all efforts to make it affordable for families.”
Braces require kids and parents to be on board with maintenance.
“The more kids can do from a brushing standpoint, and in general, taking care of the appliances from a standpoint of watching what they eat, to other parafunctional habits, like (not) gnawing on things they shouldn’t be gnawing on, then things will go more efficiently,” Bomeli says. “And ultimately, they will have healthier teeth and gums in the end.”