What Age Should a Child Get Braces?
Braces can straighten a child's teeth and improve their oral health. The ideal age to start braces treatment is between ages 9 and 14.
Why Get Braces Within This Age Range?
Children ages 9 to 14 already have most of their permanent teeth, but they are growing rapidly. The gums, teeth, and jaw remain pliable so the orthodontist can maximize their chance of success.
Why Children Need Braces
Some parents doubt the need for braces, but they are about more than straight teeth and an improved appearance. The following are some of the top reasons why your dentist may recommend braces for your child:
- Protruding top teeth (overbite) or bottom teeth (underbite)
- Teeth that do not normally meet (open bite)
- Biting the cheeks, tongue, or the roof of the mouth
- Problems with facial symmetry
- Prolonged thumb-sucking or pacifier use
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty chewing
- Baby teeth lost too early or on the late side
- Teeth grinding
The First Orthodontic Visit
All children need to see an orthodontist by the age of 7. The doctor can evaluate the child's bite, airway, and any oral habits such as thumb-sucking or mouth breathing. In certain cases, orthodontists may start treatment around age 7 using early intervention methods. The orthodontist may provide interceptive treatment with palate expanders and other appliances. These appliances can steer the child's oral development in the proper direction and prevent future problems.
The Braces Process
First, you and your child will have a consultation with the orthodontist, where you will learn about available treatment plans. Your child may receive X-rays and impressions. The orthodontist may also take photos to establish a baseline.
The next visit is when the orthodontist places the braces. This appointment could be lengthy. It starts with a dental cleaning to ensure no food or plaque is trapped under the braces to cause tooth decay. The doctor applies metal brackets to the teeth with special cement. The dentist installs bands around the back teeth and threads an archwire through the brackets. Finally, they secure the archwire with rubber bands. Your child may have some discomfort for a few days after the braces go on.
Once each month, your child will visit the orthodontist for adjustments. The gradual process will transform your child's smile. Treatment with braces can take from one to three years.
After the braces come off, your child must wear a prescribed retainer to keep the teeth from slipping back into their old positions. You may lose the time and money you invested in braces without a retainer.
Call Pediatric Dental Care
Not every child needs braces, but many children benefit from having their smiles addressed by an orthodontist. Braces not only improve appearance, but they also improve oral health.
If you are concerned about your child's teeth and want to know whether braces would be an appropriate choice, we can help. Call our office at 901-363-8192 to schedule an appointment and ensure your child's future oral health.