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A child wearing braces and a red backpack giving a thumbs up.

What’s the Best Age for Braces for Children? How Early Can My Child Start?

Healthy mouths support healthy lives. Part of a healthy mouth is proper development with teeth aligned, allowing for ideal bone and gum growth. But when your child is showing signs that they may need orthodontic treatment, when is it time to assess the problem? Determining the right age for braces can be difficult – but that’s why your dentist and orthodontist are there to help!

Your Child’s First Orthodontic Assessment

When deciding what the right age for braces is, it’s important to remember every person is unique – that goes for their teeth, too! When your child begins to develop their adult teeth won’t be a perfect timeline.

Orthodontists recommend children have an orthodontic assessment by age seven. While your child may not have all of their permanent teeth by this age, they should have enough of them for your orthodontist to get an idea of how their dental development is proceeding.

You typically will ask their dentist for their recommendation or referral. At this assessment, they can determine potential risk factors and begin planning for orthodontic treatment if necessary.

The Most Common Age for Braces is Around 10-12

If an assessment determines that your child would benefit from orthodontic treatment, their recommended age for braces will likely be between ages 10-12. This won’t be true for every person, but it is the most common age to start treatment.

Beginning treatment at this time gives orthodontists a chance to correct development issues from misaligned bites or teeth before they’re done growing. It’s much easier to approach these issues then, and can prevent future issues associated with poor jaw or general oral development.

Early Intervention Orthodontic Treatment

For some cases, an orthodontist may recommend early orthodontic intervention. This means treatment that takes place prior to all of your child’s permanent teeth erupting.

Early treatment is used to prevent issues related to your child’s jaw and facial bone development. When corrected early, they not only improve the future growth of your child’s oral development, they can make later orthodontic treatment easier or even unnecessary!

Common Issues that Lead to Braces at an Early Age

Crowded or Spaced Teeth

The position of your teeth in relation to each other is a critical part of development. If they’re too close together to align correctly, this is known as crowding. If they’re spaced too far apart, leaving major gaps, this is called spacing.

In either case, braces can shift your teeth into their ideal position, allowing the teeth around them to have room to align properly and eliminate major gaps. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, this prevents issues with your bite and helps to avoid difficult-to-brush areas of your mouth that may lead to serious cavity issues.

Crossbites, Overbites & Underbites

Bite problems are common in people of any age. There are a handful of bite alignment concerns, but these are the most likely your child may experience:

Crossbite – When some of the upper teeth bite on the inside of the lower teeth.

Overbite – When the upper front teeth bite in front of the lower front teeth.

Underbite – When the lower front teeth bite in front of the upper front teeth.

All types of bite alignment issues open up the possibility of mild to severe dental risks, including:

  • Poor jaw or joint development
  • Excessive or premature wear of your teeth
  • Increase the likelihood of gum disease or bone loss
  • Asymmetrical jaw development

In addition to braces, many of these bites can or will be treated with oral expanders or retainers too. Ultimately, the important thing is to treat them early so as to prevent development issues that could have ramifications throughout your child’s entire life.

Missing Teeth (Hypodontia)

A typical person develops 32 permanent teeth. Hypodontia is a condition where some of these teeth don’t naturally develop. It’s different from losing teeth – they simply never formed during growth.

Hypodontia is believed to be inherited, but it’s not quite fully understood yet. However, its effects are clear. Congenitally-absent teeth are not always an issue. For instance, it’s possible to grow up without ever having wisdom teeth. Since they’re often removed anyway, it’s no big deal!

Situations that cause hypodontia that require treatment typically involve orthodontics, but can also require implants. This will help avoid issues of bone loss or gum disease from gaps in your tooth line.

Growth Impacts of Thumb-sucking

Thumb-sucking or using a pacifier after a very early age has a detrimental effect on the development of your child’s teeth. Your dentist or orthodontist may be able to identify this effect, which often starts by pushing the front teeth out – also known as “buck teeth.”

Your best option for avoiding this is, of course, to find ways to redirect thumb-sucking behavior and avoid using a pacifier on children after they’re weaned from a bottle or cease breastfeeding. This ensures that the eruption of their teeth and development of their upper mouth won’t be negatively affected. If your dentist or orthodontist identify it, orthodontic treatment can be an option to restore their front teeth to the correct position.

Information on Types of Braces

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Do you have questions about how to best take care of your braces? We can answer your questions to keep your teeth and gums healthy – schedule a free consultation! Contact us online or call 440-842-8015

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