What Age Should My Child Get Braces?
While there is no exact age for children to start orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visits the orthodontist by age 7.
A visit at this age will serve the purposes of:
- Making your child comfortable with visiting the dental office
- Monitoring your child for normal growth and development
- Intervening if teeth are not coming in properly or if growth is not progressing as expected
- Avoiding longer and more extensive treatment later on in adolescence or adulthood
- Helping you plan for your child’s orthodontic treatment, even if it is not due to start for another couple of years
Reasons Kids Need Braces
Most of time, children begin orthodontic treatment during their growth spurt in early adolescence (ages 12-15). However, some kids may need to get a head start on their orthodontic treatment. The main purpose of children getting braces before their adolescent growth spurt is to guide their skeletal and dental development in a more favorable way. Some conditions are more reliably corrected at this young age.
Here are some reasons why your child may need braces:
- His or her adult teeth are coming in in places where they shouldn’t be, like the palate, chin, nose, or in place of other teeth.
- Your child may have lost some baby teeth earlier than what is considered normal and other teeth have come in the remaining space resulting in crowding
- Your child has a narrow palate or a crossbite
- Your child’s jaws are showing early signs of misalignment
- There is a large underbite or overbite
- You have noticed that your child is sucking their thumb after many kids have stopped
- Your child has an oral habit which has resulted in teeth shifting
- You noticed changes in your child’s speech that have not improved
Kids Braces vs Adult Braces
Braces for children are generally the same as braces for teens and adults.
The only differences are that there are usually fewer braces (because there are fewer adult teeth) and treatment is usually shorter than 1 year.
Braces for children usually involve braces which are glued to the teeth and connected by a wire.
The wire is held in place by elastic colored ties.
Children are usually excited to choose their colors and compare them to their friends’.
We commonly refer to braces for children as “early treatment” or “phase one treatment” because it is often followed by a more comprehensive phase of treatment during the adolescent growth spurt.
Getting Started With Braces
At Bellevue Orthodontics, we don’t believe that every child needs braces.
Instead, we advocate for every child to have an early and free consultation.
A consultation allows our orthodontists to monitor your child’s growth and development.
Many times, we will not recommend braces until your child is in their adolescent growth spurt.
That being said, children can get braces as soon as the adult teeth they have come in. This usually occurs at age 7.
Pros & Cons Of Braces for Children
If your child needs braces, there are several advantages to consider. Usually, children who need braces have more severe dental or biting problems.
The main advantage of braces for children is that they reduce the severity of your child’s dental and biting problems and make them easier to treat once all of the adult teeth have come in. Other advantages include:
- Guiding your child’s dental and skeletal growth to a more favorable position.
- Lessening the severity of some biting and jaw problems
- Avoiding the potential need for extractions of permanent teeth and jaw surgery later on in life.
- Reducing the potential for injury if your child has a large overbite or is involved in sports activities.
- Early treatment is often more affordable than comprehensive treatment
Because only some adult teeth have come in between the ages 7-11, the biggest disadvantage of early treatment is that braces for children do not treat all permanent teeth.
This is why early or phase one treatment is commonly followed by a second and more comprehensive phase of treatment.
The good news is that at Bellevue Orthodontics, we offer a partial credit on your child’s comprehensive treatment fee if your child had early treatment in our office.
This helps make orthodontic treatment more affordable for many families.
Orthodontic Treatment Options for Kids
Sometimes, early treatment can be done without braces and may involve a variety of other appliances. These include:
- Space maintainers
- Reverse-pull face masks
- Removable functional appliances
- No treatment at all!
Our orthodontists will be sure to inform you if one of these adjuncts is preferred over braces.
What if my child does not need braces?
Even if you don’t think your child needs braces, we recommend you schedule an initial free consultation so that we may establish and monitor your child’s growth and development.
Because many of our patients do not need treatment at this young age, we enroll them in our recall program.
When your child is assigned to recall, we will simply contact you once a year to come back in for a free check up!
Our process is simple and streamlined:
Come in for your first and complimentary consultation.
We will provide you with information and may or may not recommend treatment depending on your child’s needs.
If your child needs braces:
- We will take records including state-of-the-art low-radiation x-rays and photographs
- We will apply the braces to the teeth
- All other appointments will occur every 4-8 weeks depending on our orthodontists’ recommendations
Why choose Bellevue Orthodontics?
Our number one priority is that you and your family feel comfortable in our office.
That is why we seek to treat you with kindness and dedication every step of the way.
They are not only dedicated parents, but also seasoned orthodontists and hold teaching appointments at the University of Washington.
Their many years of clinical experience, combined with their teaching and scientific background as Clinical Associate Professors at the University of Washington make them experts in early treatment orthodontic care.
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