One of the most common questions that orthodontists get is regarding braces and the perfect age to consider them. The answer isn’t exactly straightforward. There isn’t a perfect age for braces, and just like every child, every situation is different. There are some signs and milestones to look for when you are considering braces either for yourself or your child. Here are a few ways that orthodontists determine the best age to get braces.
Get a Professional Opinion
The first step to determine when braces may be needed is to schedule a consultation with a licensed orthodontist. They will be best equipped to evaluate a timeline to establish the best time for you or your child. Most children should be assessed by an orthodontist by the time they are six or seven. Of course, there are special circumstances that should be considered, and it may be better for your child to be seen earlier. Some signs that you need an early evaluation include any symptoms of an overbite, underbite, or crossbite. These can be hard to diagnose, and so your orthodontist would be a great resource to determine if these circumstances may exist.
Overcrowding and Pain
If you or your child starts to have overcrowding or pain associated with their teeth, it may be an excellent time to schedule an evaluation. Keep an eye as their teeth begin to grow in.
You Don’t Have to Wait for Permanent Teeth
One of the biggest misconceptions regarding braces is that you have to wait until your child has lost all their “baby teeth” before an evaluation. Quite the contrary. In fact, phase one treatment is an early intervention that is recommended to make more space for permanent teeth to grow in. If you notice that your child starts to have a lot of overcrowding, it is crucial that you begin early intervention to prevent problems in the future. While your child may not have full braces installed in this phase, partial braces and spacers can help shorten the treatment as they get older.
Earlier Tends to Be Better
The earlier you can begin intervention with underbites, overbites, crossbites, and overcrowding, the less likely your child is to have long-term orthodontic treatment. This means that by their teenage years when having a positive self-image tends to be a difficult challenge, their smile is one less thing they will worry about. It is easier to get braces after a child is efficient at cleaning their teeth. Braces require some maintenance to prevent food from getting stuck and causing decay. Have an in-depth discussion about how to care for teeth with braces, and how it differs from what they currently do.
If your child develops any biting issues after puberty, braces is a fantastic way to increase self-esteem and help them feel better about showing off their smile. Orthodontists now offer practically invisible braces as an option, that can make a world of difference with the embarrassment of having braces.
How to Discuss Getting Braces
If you have a young child who may need partial or full braces, it can be a difficult conversation. Any change in their appearance may be traumatic for them. The best way is to get all the information you can regarding the treatment plan from your orthodontist and be open and honest with them. Explain what will happen in an age-appropriate way and answer any questions they may have. If you don’t have the answer to a particular question, assure them that the orthodontist is there to help them through the process. Talk about potential feelings of pressure they may experience and assure them that you will be there to help. Try to communicate clearly to calm any feelings of anxiety surrounding getting evaluated by an orthodontist. One aspect that many children find exciting about braces is picking out the color bands. Ask them what band colors they would prefer and why. Sometimes something as simple as customizing their braces is enough to get them feeling more comfortable with the process.
The Final Answer
Every adult and child is different when it comes to their orthodontic needs. Some children develop bite issues and overcrowding early, while others don’t have challenges with their teeth till later on. Therefore, there is not a perfect age to consider braces. Statistically speaking, it is most common for children to get braces between the ages of 10 and 14, but that is not a hard and fast rule. To evaluate if you or your child may need braces and when it would be appropriate, you should schedule an evaluation with your orthodontist. They will be able to diagnose any underbites, overbites, crossbites, or overcrowding that would require braces, spacers, or retainers.