Children seem to be getting braces and other orthodontic care a lot sooner these days. There was a time when braces were only being worn by teenagers, but in the last decade treatment options have changed. There are many reasons why your child may benefit from having braces. You should establish regular visits with your dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth erupting or by age one. Some orthodontic issues may best be treated while your child has baby teeth in place, between ages 6 and 9. To ensure a proper treatment timeline the American Academy of Orthodontists recommends your child’s first visit be at age 7. For most patients this visit will just be a screening and no treatment will be recommended until the child is a bit older. There are certain cases where it will be important to treat early that’s why it’s important that your child be screened at age 7. Since your child should be going to dental visits regularly, your dentist will also help determine if you should see an orthodontist earlier than age 7.
What are the telltale signs that my child may need braces?
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- A hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that shift, pop or make sounds when opening and closing mouth
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- Teeth that come together abnormally
- Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of your face
- What causes the need for braces?
Your need for braces may be the result of genetics, whereby you inherited space or overbite issues. You may do things that over time result in the need for braces, such as thumb or finger sucking, breathing through your mouth, dental decay, poor nutrition, or having an accident. Your teeth may become overcrowded or crooked, or the jaw may not align properly.
How may your child benefit from getting braces?
Some of the advantages of early treatment both in the long and short term include:
- Creating room for crowded or erupted teeth
- Correcting an overbite or underbite
- Correcting the jaw position
- Treating a disorder of the jaw joint
- Reducing risk of accidental chipping to protruding front teeth
- Preserving space for unerupted teeth
- Reducing the need for teeth extraction
- Reducing the overall treatment time with braces
An overbite can lead to a variety of problems, which early treatment can correct. Overcrowded teeth make it more difficult to brush and floss, and may cause tooth decay or gum disease. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping, and crossbites can lead to unfavorable growth or uneven tooth wear. Open bites can cause tongue-thrushing or lead to speech impediments.
At what age should my child be seen for an orthodontic evaluation?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends every child first visit the orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by the parents, dentist, or pediatrician. At this stage, early treatment may not be necessary, but vigilant examination will help anticipate the best time to begin treatment, and may help correct situations before they become significant problems in the future. In these situations, most patients will benefit from a second phase of treatments when all their permanent teeth are in.
Why is age seven considered an optimal time to be evaluated by an orthodontist?
By the time a child reaches the age of 7, usually the first adult molars have erupted, which establishes the child’s bite at the back molar teeth. The orthodontist can also examine front-to-back and side-to-side tooth placement. Timely screening can also detect the presence of erupting incisors, which may cause problems with an overbite, open bite, or overcrowding of teeth.
What is the best age to be fitted for braces?
The best age to be fitted for braces varies from patient to patient. Most complete orthodontic treatments begin between the ages of nine and fourteen, which usually lasts from one to three years. The average treatment time is about two years. Children and adolescents in this age range have at least some permanent teeth and are still growing.
Dr. Reese McElveen is a board certified orthodontist and is committed to providing the absolute best in orthodontics in an enthusiastic, friendly environment. Please contact us today at reeseorthodontics.com to see how we can help you have an amazing smile.