While there is no exact age when a child should get braces, the American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends children visit an orthodontist for the first time no later than age 7. At this point, an orthodontist can evaluate a child’s airway, bite and oral habits. The orthodontist can then determine if braces or other orthodontic treatments are necessary.
Early Warning Signs of Orthodontic Problems
Kids may display various warning signs of orthodontic problems by age 7. These warning signs include:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- Trouble chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Finger sucking or other poor oral habits
- Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that make sounds, shift, protrude or are recessed
- Difficulty speaking
- Cheek biting or biting into the roof of the mouth
- Protruding teeth
- Teeth that fail to meet normally or at all
- Facial imbalance or asymmetry
- Teeth grinding or clenching
If a parent identifies one or more of these issues in his or her child before age 7, there is no need to wait to schedule an orthodontic check-up. The sooner a parent speaks to an expert, the sooner their child can receive orthodontic care and support.
What to Expect During an Orthodontic Check-Up
An orthodontic check-up is a learning opportunity for an orthodontist, a parent and a child. During the check-up, an orthodontist can identify subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while baby teeth are still present in a child’s mouth.
In some cases, an orthodontist finds that a child’s teeth appear straight, and his or her bite is fine. Conversely, an orthodontist might recommend monitoring a child’s growth and development and beginning an orthodontic treatment at a later date. In other instances, an orthodontist identifies a tooth problem that requires early treatment.
What Is Early Orthodontic Treatment?
Early orthodontic treatment helps prevent a minor airway, bite or oral problem from becoming a serious, long-term issue. It also allows an orthodontist to correct an issue that cannot be addressed once a child’s face and jaw stop growing.
There are many reasons why an orthodontist recommends early orthodontic treatment, including to:
- Create room in a child’s mouth to limit the risk of crowded, erupting teeth
- Improve facial symmetry
- Limit trauma to protruding front teeth
- Preserve space for teeth that have not yet erupted
- Reduce the need for tooth removal and/or jaw surgery
- Accelerate braces treatment time
- Correct a bad bite that otherwise may cause tooth decay, gum disease, accidental chipping, uneven tooth wear or speech impediments
Ultimately, an early orthodontic evaluation is exceedingly valuable. It enables an orthodontist to help a child address oral health problems at a young age. At the same time, the evaluation ensures a parent can put his or her child on the right track toward a healthy, beautiful smile.
Common Questions About Children’s Orthodontic Treatments
For a parent, helping his or her child achieve a terrific smile is a top priority. Yet determining the best course of action relative to a child’s orthodontic treatment is sometimes difficult.
A parent who asks the right questions during an orthodontic evaluation can take the guesswork out of their child’s orthodontic treatment. Perhaps most importantly, this parent can gain the insights he or she needs to determine whether braces or other orthodontic treatments are necessary for a child.
Now, let’s take a look at five of parents’ most common orthodontic treatment questions.
- What exactly are braces?
Braces are orthodontic brackets that guide a child’s teeth and bite into the optimal position. They are constructed from a variety of materials and may be used by both children and adults.
- What types of braces are available?
Oftentimes, kids require braces with brackets, wires and rubber bands. With these braces, the brackets attach to the teeth and are connected via a wire and rubber bands. In other cases, kids may qualify for clear removable braces or require headgear or other orthodontic devices. An orthodontist may also recommend a child have one or more teeth removed to create additional space in the mouth.
- How much do children’s braces cost?
The cost of children’s braces varies based on the type of braces a parent selects and other factors. An orthodontist explains the cost of children’s braces prior to administering an orthodontic treatment. Additionally, dental insurance can sometimes be used to cover all or a portion of the cost.
- How long will my child have to wear braces?
The length of time a child needs to wear braces varies, but most people wear braces between 18 and 36 months. An orthodontist will request regular check-ups to ensure a child’s orthodontic treatment stays on track. Plus, these check-ups enable an orthodontist to quickly address any problems that could otherwise slow down a child’s orthodontic treatment.
- What is the youngest age a child can receive braces?
There is to set age when a child can receive braces. Instead, a braces treatment depends on a child and his or her individual needs. Kids sometimes benefit from starting a braces treatment as early as age 6 or 7. Comparatively, children dealing with a cleft palate may require braces before their first teeth erupt.
Remember, there are no wrong questions to ask about a child’s orthodontic treatment. If a parent feels worried about his or her child’s teeth, it helps to consult with an orthodontist. That way, a parent can ask questions and receive comprehensive orthodontic guidance.
The Bottom Line on Braces for Kids
Braces are usually the last step to address a child’s dental issues. They allow a child to simultaneously straighten his or her teeth and minimize the risk of long-lasting orthodontic issues. And if a highly talented and experienced orthodontist administers a braces treatment, you can rest assured they will do everything possible to ensure a child achieves the best possible results, as quickly as possible.
At The Super Dentists of San Diego, we offer orthodontic services designed to exceed the expectations of parents and children alike. We have been voted the number one pediatric dentistry practice in San Diego by several local publications, thanks in large part because of our commitment to helping patients of all ages accomplish their orthodontic treatment goals.
For parents who are considering braces for their kids, The Super Dentists is happy to answer any questions about braces and help you make informed orthodontic treatment decisions. To schedule an orthodontic treatment consultation with The Super Dentists, please call us today at 1 (855) GO SUPER.