Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see braces-wearers of all ages. In fact, an estimated 20% of braces-wearers are adults.
The good news is that it’s never too late to get this corrective orthodontic treatment. The bad news is that if you wait until you’re an adult, you’ve lived many years with potential discomfort and worsening dental issues.
That’s why it’s no surprise that most orthodontists still recommend braces for kids and teens. The earlier they can correct orthodontic issues, the better off your child’s oral and dental health will be.
The question is, how old is old enough for braces? If you’re wondering when to get your child braces, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn everything you need to know about when your child should get braces.
Is There an Ideal Age For Braces?
When parents start asking questions like, “Does my child need braces?” and, “Is it time for braces?” they’re often hoping for a clear-cut timeline. The reality is that while it can be easy to determine that your child needs braces, there is no universal answer as to when they should get them.
Ultimately, no child should have braces before the age of seven. At this young age, most children still have most of their baby teeth and their permanent teeth have yet to erupt.
You may be thinking that seven sounds pretty young, too. After all, a lot of children still have plenty of baby teeth at the age of seven. However, by this point it becomes more clear how their adult teeth will grow in, what shape their jaw is taking on, and more.
The good news is that in many cases, deciding when to move forward with braces is a choice you can make as a parent. Unless your child would benefit from early correction, it is often okay to wait until they are ten years old or older to move forward with braces.
Signs a Child Needs Braces
How do you know if your child needs braces? The first step is taking them in for their regular dental cleanings. If you don’t already do so, take some time to find the best pediatric dentist near you.
What does your child’s dentist have to do with orthodontics? Dentists are often the first to notice signs that braces will become beneficial or necessary in the future. They are also instrumental in helping you find the best orthodontist in your area and setting you up with a referral.
Signs that your child needs braces include:
- Overcrowded teeth
- Crooked and/or overlapping teeth
- Malocclusion (aka a “bad bite,” meaning a difference in size between the top and bottom jaw)
- Jaw and tooth problems caused by things like thumb sucking, early loss of baby teeth, missing permanent teeth, or facial trauma
It’s worth noting that many of these problems, such as malocclusions or overcrowded teeth, are genetic. If you or your child’s other parent had braces, there’s a good chance your child will need them, as well.
What to Expect From Your Visit to the Orthodontist
The first visit to the orthodontist is an examination. That means that you can rest your child’s nerves if they’re worried that they’ll walk out of that first appointment with braces!
Your child’s orthodontist will look at things like their bite, alignment, and more. They may ask your child a series of questions about things like chewing and swallowing to get a sense of how their teeth are affecting them. Finally, they may take an X-ray and create a mold of your child’s teeth that will help them decide what kind of orthodontic procedures are best.
How Long Does Your Child Need to Wear Braces?
The length of time it takes to correct orthodontic problems depends on the problems, themselves. The good news is that with the improvement of technology, most kids don’t have to wear braces for nearly as long as their parents did!
On average, most braces-wearers can expect to keep their braces on for 18 months to two years. During this time, some braces-wearers may also need to use things like rubber bands and headgear to correct more serious jaw alignment issues.
With the increasing popularity of braces alternatives like Invisalign, many parents are wondering if other options are available. Your orthodontist will be able to answer any questions you have about the kind of braces (or braces alternatives) that are best suited for your child or teen. (Note that Invisalign is not recommended for young children and adolescents, but many teens are able to use this braces alternative.)
How Can Your Child Take Care of Their Braces?
One reason that some parents may choose to wait a few years before moving forward with their child’s braces is the required care. Braces are more durable than they used to be and care isn’t as difficult, but there are still some necessary steps and precautions to take.
For example, food can become caught in braces easily and it is important to remove it right away. That’s why it is important to brush your teeth after every meal when you have braces. You can also use floss threaders to floss with braces at least once a day.
In addition, some foods should be avoided. Foods and candies that are sticky or hard can cause damage to the brackets, so your child may want to hold off on these things until their braces are removed.
Talk to Your Dentist About Braces
If you’re wondering when to get your child braces, the best next step is to talk to your child’s dentist. They’re familiar with your child’s dental health and can recognize the early signs that braces will become necessary in the future (or in the present).
Braces have been popular for decades and we’re certain that they’re one trend that won’t go out of style. Want to know what else is trending today? Take a look around or website to get the full scoop on the latest trends.