What are plates? How do they compare to braces?

A plate is a plastic appliance, often with wires and springs, which is worn on either the top or bottom teeth or both. They are generally used in children before they have their full adult dentition to correct simple orthodontic problems. They may move teeth or hold them in place as your child’s jaws develop and adult teeth erupt. Plates are not attached to teeth so your child must be committed to wearing it as instructed by the orthodontist.

Braces are usually used to correct simple or complex orthodontic problems – usually when your child has their full adult dentition. However, it is now relatively common for children to have partial braces (braces on some teeth only) for a short period of time before the eruption of their adult dentition. This is because it may be more efficient to correct certain problems when they’re younger. It may also be a good option if your child is not committed to wearing their plate as regularly as they should.

We often get asked if it is necessary to have plates or braces at an early age when children are still growing. Parents are sometimes worried their children will ‘grow out of’ any treatment. Treatment with plates or braces at this early age is done to treat functional issues with developing bites – using their growth to our advantage. It may not necessarily prevent the need for comprehensive treatment with braces in their teenage years, but it certainly makes treatment then much simpler and often faster.