What’s the Best Age for Kids to Get Braces?

Teen aged girl with braces Smiling

children visit the orthodontist no later than age 7.

Why is this?

The age recommendation is so young because orthodontics can effectively fix teeth and other oral health issues long before they become serious – treating teeth with orthodontics can and should be done in young children, whenever necessary and possible.

Why Should My Child Get Braces?

Children should get braces and other orthodontic treatment as early as possible.

Orthodontists easily fix problems in young children (before the face and jaw fully grow) that they may not have the flexibility to fix when the child in the teen years. Think of braces and orthodontic treatment for children as early intervention to address the most serious issues, before they become permanent problems.

Here are some of the benefits that orthodontic treatment provides our youngest patients:

  • Permanent teeth are guided into a healthy position
  • The meeting of the lips is physically and aesthetically improved
  • Improved facial appearance
  • Correction of harmful oral habits like nail-biting and thumb-sucking
  • Lowered the risk of trauma to misaligned teeth
  • Guide jaw growth to a proper relationship

Can My Child Wait a Few Years Before Seeing an Orthodontist?

Even if your child’s teeth appear to be straight, it’s important to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist: there may be other issues that only an orthodontist can diagnose – and without early intervention, it can become bigger problems down the line.

In most cases, your child won’t need braces immediately –the first checkup with an orthodontist will likely reveal that your child doesn’t need treatment right away. (However, there are cases where early childhood orthodontic treatment is essential). So, bring your child to the orthodontist for a checkup – you’ll get treatment recommendations, a monitoring schedule, and a full rundown of all of your treatment (and timing!) options.

It’s best not to wait for your general pediatric dentist to refer you to an orthodontist: orthodontists can spot subtle problems that may not be evident during a routine teeth cleaning and exam.

If severe problems are left undiagnosed and untreated while the child is young, braces alone might not be enough to fix the issues later. By correcting problems now, you’re sparing your child complex
and invasive treatments in the future.

Braces and Other Orthodontic Treatment for Children: What to Expect

If your orthodontist determines your child needs early interceptive treatment, here are some of the things that they might recommend:

  • Expansion of the upper and/or lower arches
  • Developing the child’s jaw to make room for further eruption of permanent teeth
  • Improving the relationship between the upper and lower jaws.

This first phase of treatment for children is minor and non-invasive. It usually lasts 9-18 months – the child might then need to be put on a retainer and a recall schedule.

Children who have bigger problems fixed with early treatment often make great Invisalign candidates for their 2nd phase of treatment. Also, that 2nd phase might be shorter overall with early intervention.

If your child has had early interceptive treatment, make sure to return to the orthodontist for the 2nd phase of treatment to finish their case. Just because things look okay, doesn’t mean there aren’t other functional issues the orthodontist needs to fix.

When it comes to my youngest patients, I’m extremely conservative with early interceptive treatment. I only recommend treatment when I can make a significant difference. However, I’m always glad when a parent brings their child in early so we can be sure to address any serious issues to fix while the child is still growing.

I know all parents, myself included, would love to help their child avoid invasive treatment. One of the best ways to do this is to bring your child to an orthodontist early – even if their teeth look straight to you, make sure to have an expert evaluate your child’s mouth.

Do I Need Braces?

A dentist usually recommends braces to improve the patient’s physical “orofacial” appearance. Through orthodontic treatment, problems like crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw position and disorders of the jaw joints are corrected.

When’s The Right Time For Braces?

Patients with orthodontic problems can benefit from treatment at nearly any age. An ideal time for placement of braces is between 10 and 14 years of age, while the head and mouth are still growing and teeth are more conducive to straightening. However, because any adjustments in facial appearance can be traumatic to a child during these sensitive years, parents should discuss the matter with their children before braces are applied. And braces aren’t just for kids. More and more adults are also wearing braces to correct minor problems and to improve their smiles.

How Long Will I Have To Wear Them?

That depends upon your treatment plan. The more complicated your spacing or bite problem is, and the older you are, the longer the period of treatment, usually. Most patients can count on wearing full braces between 18 and 30 months, followed by the wearing of a retainer for at least a few months to up to two years to set and align tissues surrounding straightened teeth. Some patients may have to wear a permanent retainer if you do not want your bite to return to the way it was.

Will Treatment Be Uncomfortable?

The interconnecting wires are tightened at each visit, bearing mild pressure on the brackets or bands to shift teeth or jaws, gradually into a desired position. Your teeth and jaws may feel slightly sore after each visit, but the discomfort is brief. Keep in mind also that some teeth may need to be extracted to make room for teeth being shifted with braces and for proper jaw alignment.

Who Will Provide My Orthodontic Treatment?

Your family general dentist is responsible for coordinating your dental treatment, and this could encompass any orthodontic treatment plan, including diagnosis, examinations and some orthodontic procedures. Your dentist may, however, refer you to an “orthodontist”—a specialist trained in the development, prevention and correction of irregularities of the teeth, bite and jaws and related facial abnormalities.

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions, so get an appointment today.