When Your Child Should Get Braces

What You Need to Know About When Your Child Should Get Braces

If you’ve noticed any of the common signs that your child may need braces such as mouth breathing, thumb sucking, difficulty chewing, or noticeably crooked teeth, you may be wondering when (and if) your child should get braces. Here’s what you need to know about setting up your child’s first appointment with their orthodontist as well as what to expect if it turns out that your child does need braces.

Scheduling Your Child’s First Orthodontic Appointment

Regardless of whether or not your child is demonstrating signs that they may need braces, experts recommend that all children get evaluated by an orthodontist by around age 7. An orthodontist is a type of dentist who has additional training and specializes in re-aligning and straightening teeth. Your child’s orthodontist will be able to determine if they can benefit from getting braces and, if so, when the best time to start orthodontic treatment is. In short, there are two general approaches as to when is best to apply braces: the traditional approach (with treatment starting between 11 and 13) and the interceptive approach (with treatment beginning as early as age 8).

The Traditional Approach to Braces

For many years, the general consensus among orthodontists was that children who need braces should wait until their baby teeth have all fallen out to get braces—usually around age 12. The reasoning is that the course of treatment is significantly more predictable once a child’s adult teeth are in, helping to avoid needing repeat treatments.

The Interceptive Approach to Orthodontics

While the traditional approach is still used, there are many cases in which the interceptive approach may be appropriate. Indicators for interceptive treatment would include the presence of a crossbite (the back, upper teeth fit inside the back lower teeth), an underbite, an extreme overbite, or even the fact that your child’s self-esteem is suffering due to the appearance of their teeth. Before your child’s adult teeth are fully in, they can be treated with dental appliances such as palatal expanders to help encourage correct bone and teeth growth. Once the adult teeth are completely in, your child can be fitted with braces, but typically for a shorter period than if they had not received prior orthodontic treatment.

Ultimately, the right approach will depend largely on how severe your child’s orthodontic issues are. Here at Rollins & Petersen Orthodontics, our orthodontists are happy to meet with you and your child for a free consultation and help you know when your child should get braces.