If you’ve got a kid with crooked teeth, an underbite, overbite, or other dental problems, you probably know your child is going to end up with braces. Not only will braces help fix the appearance of the teeth – helping your child avoid self-esteem issues that can come from a crooked smile – but the braces will also fix a wide variety of dental issues that could, if left untreated, result in major problems.
So, you might be wondering, how soon should we start? What’s the right age for my child to start wearing braces?
There is no set, correct answer. In truth, a person can have braces put on as a child, a teenager, or as an adult and still reap all the benefits. However, for those who don’t want their children to wait until adulthood, there are a few general guidelines.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s recommended a child have his first orthodontic evaluation around the age of 7. At this age, many tooth and alignment problems can first be identified. This doesn’t mean braces need to be put on at this point, but your orthodontist will be able to recommend a suitable timeline. Sometimes an orthodontist will recommend trying other treatments or dental appliances before braces in order to treat more severe problems.
In general, for braces to work effectively, they need to be put on after the child has lost the majority of his baby teeth and has received a majority of his permanent teeth. For most children, this stage is reached between the age of 8 and 14.
If you are unsure as to whether your child will need braces, talk to your regular pediatric dentist. Not all dental problems that lead to braces are visible to the naked eye. When your child comes in for his regular six-month visit, have your dentist exam his mouth and let you know if you should take your child to an orthodontist for a consultation. Your regular dental visits can be the first step in detecting problems in their earliest stages, and your dentist can also help identify when your child is at the proper age to begin orthodontic work.