May 28, 2024
When Can Kids Get Braces

There is no exact or set age when kids should get braces, as every child’s mouth develops differently. However, the American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children have their first orthodontic evaluation by age 7.

While braces or other orthodontic treatments may not be necessary at age 7 for most kids, having an early evaluation allows the orthodontist to spot potential issues and monitor growth and development. It also gives time to correct some problems early before they become more complex.

As braces are the not only treatment done in orthodontics, I have used the term braces to familiarize you people with the treatment which is done to correct developing occlusion. Most kids get orthodontic treatment between ages 9 and 14, which is an ideal time while they still have some baby teeth but most permanent teeth have erupted. Getting orthodontic treatment between ages 9-14 allows the orthodontist to guide the permanent teeth into position as the child still has growth potential.

However, in some cases, orthodontic treatment may be recommended even earlier, severe overbites, crossbites, or other significant skeletal or dental issues should be treated as early as they found out. Early treatment may also be recommended if a child loses baby teeth prematurely or has oral habits like thumb-sucking. However, Braces in perse are given after the eruption of all permanent teeth and after the completion of jaw growth. Here I cannot specify each and everything but it can differ from individual to individual as every person is unique.

For adults, there is no upper limit on age – orthodontic treatment can be effective at any time but may take longer than in a growing child. Adults may choose braces to correct longstanding issues with bite, appearance, or dental health.

Quick Questions

What is Orthodontic Treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is like giving your teeth a makeover. Imagine your teeth are like a puzzle, and sometimes they don’t fit together perfectly. That’s where orthodontists come in – they’re like the architects for your smile.

What are Braces?

Braces are devices orthodontists use to help move teeth into their ideal positions. They usually consist of small brackets bonded to each tooth with a wire threaded through, which applies gentle pressure over time to shift teeth. Braces are most commonly made of metal, but some are clear or tooth-colored.

When Do Permanent Teeth Erupt?

Kids usually get braces once most permanent teeth have erupted, which occurs between ages 9-13. The first permanent molars erupt around age 6, while wisdom teeth emerge in late teens.

Here is the usual eruption schedule:

  • Age 6-7: First permanent molars erupt behind primary teeth
  • Age 8-12: Permanent incisors and canines replace primary teeth
  • Age 9-13: Permanent premolars replace primary molars
  • Age 17-21: Wisdom teeth emerge in the back

Since most permanent teeth emerge by early teens, this is why age 9-14 is the most common age for braces.

When Do Orthodontists Recommend Getting Treatment?

Most orthodontists suggest getting braces between ages 8-14, which spans the years during and just following most growth spurts. More specifically:

Ages 7-9

If the overbite is severe or the child is at risk of trauma to protruding front teeth

Ages 9-12

If large overjet or moderate to severe crowding exists

Ages 12-14

If other alignment issues exist but aren’t severe

Late teenage years are the final opportunity for braces before growth stops, but treatment times are longer and outcomes may be less ideal.

How Long Do Braces Take?

The length of time braces need to be worn can vary significantly depending on the severity of the orthodontic issues. Most standard brace treatments last between 1-3 years. More complex cases involving jaw realignment or surgical orthodontics may take closer to 3 years.

During the braces treatment, you can expect to visit the orthodontist for adjustments every 4-10 weeks. The orthodontist will tighten wires and replace elastics as needed during these appointments to gradually shift the teeth into alignment.

Once the teeth reach proper positioning after 1-3 years, the braces are removed. After removal, most patients need to wear a retainer to ensure the teeth do not shift back out of place. Clear plastic retainers are commonly worn full-time for the first 6 months then transitioned to nighttime-only wear for up to 2 years following braces removal.

So, while the actual braces may be worn for 1-3 years on average, the full commitment including retainers is closer to 3-5 years for a typical braces treatment or lifetime as a retainer can be permanent. Proper retention with a retainer is crucial for maintaining the results of braces long-term.

Benefits of Getting Orthodontic Treatment Between Ages 9-14

Getting Orthodontic treatment between 9 and 14 years provides many benefits:

  • Guides permanent teeth into the proper position
  • Takes advantage of jaw growth to allow desired tooth movement
  • Shorter treatment times since less movement is needed
  • Prevents worsening of problems like overcrowding
  • Boosts self-confidence during formative years

Orthodontic treatment between 9 and 14 years prevents issues from compounding and worsening after jaw growth is completed. It also builds confidence in teens through an improved smile.

Are There Side Effects of Orthodontic Treatment for Kids?

Orthodontic treatment can cause some mild side effects for kids including irritationdiscomfort, and difficulty eating in the first few days. The brackets and wires may also cause gum irritation or mouth sores as kids adjust.

More serious potential side effects involve potential tooth decay if oral hygiene is not maintained, gingivitis or root resorption weakening tooth roots in rare cases. Jaw pain or face shape changes are also possible side effects from braces shifting teeth.

Most side effects are temporary or preventable with good oral care. Using dental wax and over-the-counter pain medication can relieve irritation and discomfort. Practicing careful brushing and flossing protects against decay and gingivitis with braces. Overall, braces are very safe with minimal risks when properly monitored by an orthodontist so regular visits to a dentist are important.

Signs that Kids Need Orthodontic Treatment

There are several signs parents should look out for to determine if their child needs braces:

1. Crowded or Crooked Teeth

Teeth that overlap severely, appear twisted or are crowded due to lack of space indicate a need for braces to align teeth properly.

2. Overbite or Underbite

An overbite of more than 30% (upper front teeth covering lower front teeth excessively) or underbite likely requires orthodontic correction.

3. Crossbite

When upper and lower jaws shift resulting in upper teeth biting inside lower teeth, braces can realign the bite.

4. Gaps Between Teeth

Excessive gaps due to missing teeth or small jaws can be closed with braces.

5. Early Loss of Baby Teeth

Premature loss of baby teeth can cause bite problems and indicates the need to monitor growth.

6. Difficulty Chewing, Biting or Speaking

Issues with chewing, biting food, or speaking indicate a need for improved alignment.

7. Jaw Misalignment or Poor Facial Symmetry

Braces can reshape jaw growth to achieve proper symmetry and appearance.

8. Mouth Breathing Habits

Braces or expanders may help stop the mouth-breathing habit.

The best way to determine if your child needs braces is to have an orthodontist examine their mouth and bite. If you notice any signs of misalignment or your child has issues chewing or speaking, schedule a consultation. Early intervention leads to better outcomes.

Types of Braces for Children

There are several types of braces orthodontists may use on children:

1. Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces remain the most common. They have metal brackets glued to teeth connected by a metal wire. Kids can choose colored rubber bands for decoration.

Pros: Effective, affordable, easy to clean Cons: Visible metal

2. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces have tooth-colored or clear ceramic brackets bound to teeth to be less visible. They blend better than metal braces but are bigger.

Pros: Less visible Cons: More expensive, harder to clean

3. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces attach to the backs of teeth so they remain unseen. Custom-fit brackets are bonded behind the teeth.

Pros: Completely invisible Cons: Difficult to clean, speech adjustment

4. Clear Aligners

Clear aligners like Invisalign are removable plastic trays that incrementally move teeth. They offer an invisible aligning option.

Pros: Removable, invisible, comfortable Cons: Easily lost, less effective for complex cases

When considering which type of braces are best for your child, an orthodontist will make recommendations based on the severity of alignment issues and personal preferences for aesthetics and comfort. Traditional metal braces tend to offer the most effective tooth movements.

How to Take Care of Braces at Home

Caring for braces properly is critical for good oral health and a successful treatment outcome. Here are some tips:

Brush After Every Meal

Food easily gets trapped in braces, so brushing after every meal is a must. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Carefully brush each tooth, paying special attention to areas around brackets and wires.

Floss Daily

Flossing at least once a day is important to clear debris from between teeth and braces. Use floss threaders to maneuver the floss under wires. Gently work the floss up and down the sides of each tooth.

Rinse After Eating

When you can’t brush, rinsing thoroughly with water helps clear food debris. Carry a small bottle of water in your bag for rinsing on-the-go.

Avoid Certain Foods

Avoid very hard, sticky, or chewy foods that could damage braces like:

  • Hard candy, caramels
  • Chewing gum
  • Taffy
  • Popcorn
  • Hard raw fruits and vegetables – cut into small pieces before eating

What Factors Determine the Best Braces Age?

There are several considerations around timing:

Child’s Growth Stage

  • Getting braces 1-2 years before peak growth allows orthodontist to guide jaw/tooth growth
  • Specific growth markers assessed through x-rays

Current Alignment Issues

  • More severe issues often need early intervention
  • Mild-moderate issues can wait until the early teens

Compliance

  • A child must be responsible enough to care for braces properly
  • Ages 8+ often emotionally ready

Treatment Goals

  • Extraction cases need early guidance on erupting teeth

Risk of Trauma

  • Protruding front teeth may benefit from early alignment

Importance of Orthodontist Evaluation

Every child should get an orthodontist evaluation around age 7 to assess if and when braces may be needed. The orthodontist will monitor jaw and tooth development at this age. Even if no treatment is yet needed, they can advise on any emerging problems that require early intervention.

Early orthodontist evaluation allows the best treatment approach and timing to be determined based on the child’s unique development. It prevents delay of needed treatment.

Conclusion

While most kids get braces between ages 9-14, the ideal time is different for every child. Seeing an orthodontist by age 7 allows early detection of issues, and braces may be recommended as early as age 6 if significant problems exist. Work with your orthodontist to determine the right age and treatment plan for your child. Signs like crooked teeth, jaw problems, and chewing/speaking issues indicate a need for braces. Early orthodontic treatment prevents more extensive treatment later.

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