The topic of kid’s braces doesn’t usually come up with parents until their children are a little older, however, receiving orthodontic treatment earlier rather than later can have a significant impact on future treatments and possible surgeries. In some cases, it may even eliminate the need for braces all together. Most kids lose the last of their baby teeth by age 12, and by the end of their teen years, jaw bones will have stopped growing.
Baby teeth are usually lost in a particular order and should be immediately replaced with permanent teeth. Molars should start to come in between 6 and 8 years old. If more or less teeth are being lost or coming in than what is normal, it could mean that something out of the ordinary is occurring. If permanent teeth don’t have the room they need to come in, extracting a tooth might prevent larger problems later on.
Why Consult with an Orthodontist?
Orthodontists have specialized training in craniofacial development, skeletal growth patterns, and tooth development and can identify potential problems in children at around age 7. Braces may not be indicated in children this young, but phase 1 of treatment, if needed, can begin. If problems are noticed with the jaw, or there are issues emerging, such as underbite, then the orthodontist can begin treatment while the bones in the jaw are still growing and some of the baby teeth are still present.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children be evaluated with an orthodontist at age 7, however, it has been found that just a small percentage of children will need to be treated this early. https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/is-there-a-benefit-to-early-treatment/
A question that needs to be asked at this age is, if the patient isn’t treated now, will an opportunity window be missed that will negatively affect the child’s outcome?
Orthodontists generally agree that the best time for kid’s braces is between the ages of 9 and 12 with girls, and between 10 and 14 with boys, since girls typically develop faster than boys. Baby teeth are out, the head and mouth are both still growing, and teeth are more conducive to straightening. Once a child reaches age 16 or 17, they have usually stopped growing and the jaw becomes harder and more fixed, so it will usually take a bit longer to straighten the teeth with braces.
Many Options Available for Kid’s Braces
Wearing braces no longer has the stigma for tweens and teens that it once did. With all of the options available to customize, braces can actually be fun! In the past, braces might have made kids feel self-conscious, however, now, they are commonly perceived as just a stepping stone towards a healthy smile.
Ceramic braces are available in many cases and come in many colors. They can even be made to match tooth color! Clear braces can also be an option, as well as Invisalign® invisible aligners, depending on the exact condition that is being treated. Even if metal braces are required because of a more severe misalignment of teeth, they are much smaller than they used to be. Rubber bands used on brackets also come in many colors and can be changed out between visits.
The process of having braces applied to the teeth is not painful or uncomfortable at all. They will take some getting used to, especially with foods that aren’t “braces friendly,” like popcorn and corn on the cob. If the mouth is tender from brackets, an almost invisible wax, available at just about any drug store, can be used. While there can be some minimal discomfort after having braces adjusted, it usually subsides within a day or two.
A lot of kids are self-conscious about their smiles because of crooked teeth or overbites, etc. and shy away from selfies, or smiling with their mouths open. The small amount of time needed to correct teeth alignment is nothing compared to a lifetime of healthy teeth and a beautiful smile!
We offer a free consultation which includes an exam of your child’s mouth including x-rays and a recommended treatment protocol if indicated, along with the options available for kid’s braces.