So your child has lost most of their baby teeth, and permanent teeth have begun to grow in…cue the parental worry: “Should my child get braces?”
While your child’s dentist and orthodontist can provide professional guidance on your child’s orthodontic care, there’s a great deal you can learn ahead of time about your child’s smile.
One common question parents have: “When should my child start braces?”
While there is no exact age to start braces, the general rule of thumb is the sooner, the better: orthodontic treatment should begin when most of the baby teeth have been replaced by permanent teeth. This occurs between 8 and 14 years of age. Most children are ready for braces by the middle-school years, around 11-13 years old.
Beginning early leads to better results. Adult braces patients can also achieve healthy, beautiful smiles and straight teeth, but the process may take longer, and teeth may be more likely to drift back out of alignment, because they have spent so many years settled in their permanent, pre-treatment positions.
Newly developed adult teeth, however, are easier to guide into new positions. Growing bones (including teeth) are much less dense than settled adult bones, and the dental and jaw structures are still pliable. Children have faster metabolisms than adults, which further aids orthodontic treatment.
The best way to determine whether your child is ready to begin braces is to visit an orthodontist early: the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children visit an orthodontist by age 7 for consultation. Your local orthodontist will monitor the development of permanent teeth, and determine the need for early orthodontic treatment.
In some cases, early pre-braces intervention can reduce the length and invasiveness of orthodontic treatment, or eliminate it altogether. These early interventions include palatal expanders, nighttime retainers, InvisalignFirst®, and more. These types of interventions can begin as early as 7 or 8 years old, which is why an early visit to the orthodontist is so important.
While you should bring your child to an orthodontist regardless of their dental development, there are signs that may indicate your child’s need for orthodontic treatment:
If your child isn’t thrilled at the idea of braces, they’re in luck: Invisalign has expanded its treatment options to include comprehensive clear aligner care custom designed for growing mouths. Invisalign Teen® is a patented technology that allows adolescents to straighten their teeth without a fixed appliance like metal braces. If your child is interested in Invisalign Teen®, be sure to ask your orthodontist about this option.
One last note: dental care is just as important as medical care for your young one, so be sure to bring your child to the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups starting in their first year of life. Developing an excellent oral health routine when children are young will provide them with the best results from future orthodontic care, and a lifetime of smile health and happiness.