Next to private school tuition and ongoing health insurance premiums, braces are one of the biggest child-rearing expenses for parents. But how do know whether our child actually needs braces or not? Find out in today’s guest post.
Teenagers go through a lot. Their bodies are growing, voices are changing, acne may be present and they’re consuming food at an alarming rate that can bust any sensible budget. Teen oral health is changing too with some children experiencing their first cavities and others in need of tooth realignment to bring forth a winning and confident smile.
In cases of crooked teeth, orthodontic intervention is soon recommended by dentists and considered by millions of families. The intervention may start young, in the preteen years, or it may be put off until children are grown and desire to make this decision for themselves.
Orthodontic intervention is not a slam-dunk decision. Within the dental health community, there are differences of opinion on not only when, but if braces are needed. Some patients have straight teeth, but crowding can make it difficult to clean between them. In this case, the patient’s teeth are not giving him any trouble, thus braces are more of an option than a necessity.
If your dentist is suggesting braces, he likely did so after saying a word that may be new to you — malocclusion. Malocclusion is a word to describe when teeth do not line up. If malocclusion is present, you will most likely be referred to an orthodontist. Your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and discuss your options. A retainer can provide early intervention that might straighten your teeth and keep you from the expense of getting braces. But, if your malocclusion is pronounced, then your orthodontist will likely recommend braces, giving you the option of choosing metal, clear or color braces.
Angles Classification Method
Dr. Edward Angle was an American dentist and is considered as the father of modern orthodontics, and the founder of the Angle School of Orthodontia in St. Louis in 1900. He developed a classification system for orthodontic care that helps oral care professionals assess dental health, particularly when it relates to braces. Patients are assigned to one of three classes, to help orthodontists determine whether braces are needed or not.
Class I — Your upper and lower teeth are aligned, and your bite is precise. Some crowding may be present, but otherwise your smile is in great shape.
Class II — An over bite is present with your lower jaw pushed back and your upper jaw pushed forward. There are two subclasses that describe the position of the upper front teeth, but the molar relationship is the same.
Class III — When a patient’s lower first molar is positioned closer to the front of the mouth and the lower jaw protrudes forward, an under bite is evident.
Most basic dental insurance plans do not cover orthodontic care. Your insurance may pay for the referral, but the treatment options, including braces, may not be included. Always consult with your insurance provider to determine your level of coverage. Some plans will pay for a portion of the cost, with orthodontists required to submit a claim outlining the treatment type, the date when braces will be placed on the teeth, the full treatment costs, number of treatments and months and the appropriate American Dental Association treatment code listed.
For everyone else, there are financing options that can allow you to spread the cost of orthodontic care over several years. Your orthodontist may offer a suggested lender or you can talk with your banker, your credit union representative or you can shop online for orthodontic care plans.
Ultimately, the choice of getting braces is up to the patient. You may be a Class II or Class III patient, but the timing of getting care is something you should discuss with your orthodontist. Other health factors can lead patients to make a decision for braces including jaw pain, sleep apnea, a speech impediment, difficulty chewing and gum disease .