The American Dental Association recommends that children have an initial visit to the orthodontist at age seven. Generally, the teeth and mouth haven’t developed enough yet prior to that age. Most children will not need braces at age seven, but that’s the age when we can start looking for potential problems that are developing. Getting a child to an orthodontist at an early age is a great way to monitor developments. Preventive measures can then be taken that will minimize intensity of future treatments. Once you conclude that orthodontic treatment is important for the child, the next question is, when is the best time to get them? We take a look at what causes the need for braces and when is best to get them.
How can you tell if a child may need braces and how soon?
There are many scenarios where a child may benefit from braces. Regular care by a dentist is critical in order to protect the teeth and spot issues that should be corrected by orthodontics. You should have your child start seeing a dentist within six months of the first tooth erupting, or by age one. There is no set time to get started with orthodontics. Some problems are best treated as early as possible even when most baby teeth are still in place (ages 6-9). Sometimes, it is best to wait until most of the baby teeth have fallen out (ages 10-13). If your child is having regular dental visits, your dentist will be able to determine when it’s time for minor intervention or a full evaluation for braces.
What are some signs that a child is likely to benefit from braces?
- Early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Crowding, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that shift or make sounds
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
What causes the need for braces?
Most orthodontic problems are genetic, meaning you inherited your space or bite problems. Others develop over time due to factors like thumb sucking or the use of a pacifier, mouth breathing, dental decay, accidents, or poor nutrition. Another common cause is there’s not enough room in the jaw for the teeth, so they become crowded or crooked, or the jaws don’t line up properly.
What are the benefits of braces for a child?
Early diagnosis and successful treatment of certain bite problems can have both short-term and long-term benefits. Other developmental problems aren’t as critical. Indeed, even adults successfully get orthodontic care, although success is usually more predictable in a growing jaw. Any problem classified as a “bad bite” may be minimized with the proper orthodontic treatment, including:
- Crooked or crowded teeth
- Missing or extra teeth
- An overbite or underbite
- Incorrect jaw position
- A disorder of the jaw joint
At what age should a child be evaluated for orthodontic care?
Evaluation of growth and development and treatment of “bite” problems may begin at various stages of dental development, depending on the problems, growth of the child, risks and benefits of treatment or not treating, and interest and or ability of the practitioner. Some children may benefit from an orthodontic evaluation as young as age 5 or 6 and others can wait until the baby teeth have fallen out and the permanent teeth are coming into place (ages 10-13). Your general or pediatric dentist will help you determine the best time for evaluation and treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a first evaluation visit to the orthodontist no later than age 7.
What is the best age to be fitted with braces?
The best age varies from patient to patient. Orthodontic treatment most commonly begins between ages 8 and 14. Kids in this age range have at least some permanent teeth and are still growing. Some problems, however, are best addressed early, even while mostly baby teeth are present.
Do you have any questions about the right time to get braces? Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.