“Should my child get braces, and if so, when?” If you’ve noticed that your little one’s teeth aren’t as straight as they could be, there’s a good chance you’ve asked yourself this question before.
You aren’t the only one wondering, either. Dentists and orthodontists get this question from concerned parents every day. While it may seem like your child is running behind or ahead of schedule compared to their peers, there are quite a few factors that determine the best age to start orthodontic treatment.
To help you decide whether a trip to the orthodontist should be in your child’s near future, we’ll go into a few of those factors below.
Does My Child Need Braces?
Even though braces are seen somewhat as a rite of passage in our culture, not every child needs to get them. Some children will only need a retainer, others would benefit more from aligner trays, and some won’t need any correction at all.
The signs your child may need braces can include:
- Obviously crowded or gapped teeth
- Teeth that protrude forward or grow in at an angle
- Long-term thumb sucking
- Misaligned upper and lower jaw
- Difficulty biting or chewing food.
Visit a child’s orthodontist to have them evaluate your little one’s mouth if you’re concerned about their tooth development. You can also ask your pediatric dentist for advice on whether to seek orthodontic treatment.
At What Age Should My Child Get Braces?
It’s often best to schedule your child’s first appointment before they turn seven, about the age they begin losing their primary teeth. Even so, it will likely be quite a few years before your child is ready for braces.
Braces are most effective after a child has lost most of their primary teeth and has nearly a full set of permanent teeth. For many kids, this is between 10-14 years old. At this age, their mouths are still growing and their teeth are easiest to move into their correct positions.
If your child has severe misalignments that affect their ability to eat or speak, their orthodontist may recommend interceptive orthodontic treatment. This could mean getting braces, but it more often involves other devices that prepare the mouth for braces later on. These devices include palate expanders, spacers, and lingual arches.
Some children are late bloomers and won’t be ready for braces until their later teens. This is normal and nothing to be worried about. Even though younger children’s teeth move faster, there’s no upper age limit on braces or other tooth straightening procedures.
“When Should My Child Get Braces?” Ask Your Orthodontist to Find Out for Sure
The next time you find yourself wondering “should my child get braces”, remember that each child’s mouth is unique. Only an orthodontist can determine whether they’re ready to start straightening their teeth—or whether they need to at all. Schedule an evaluation with your local orthodontist to find out more.
For other dental tips and other ways to keep your family healthy, keep reading through the other articles on our site.