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Two young girls with one wearing braces

Is It Better to Get Braces Younger or Older?

When your child may need braces, it’s a big decision for parents to make. One of the factors that plays into the equation is timing – is it better to get braces younger or older? After all, people of all ages can get braces, so is there a rush? On the flip side, are there potential issues with waiting?

Read on to learn more about how to determine the best time for your child to get braces!

Start with an Evaluation

Before any decision is made, it’s important that your child receives an evaluation from an orthodontist – not just their dentist. While dentists often make recommendations for children to see an orthodontist, they won’t always catch the signs early enough to give you time to make a decision like “when” to start treatment.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child be seen by an orthodontist at least once sometime around their 7th birthday. This is a crucial time in development for their whole body, including their jaw and mouth. An orthodontist’s specialized training and additional experience can help them make the best judgment when it comes to figuring out if your child even needs treatment, let alone when it would start.

When Early Treatment Helps

When considering if it is better to get braces younger or older you will need to understand when early treatment will help. Early treatment is often part of a specialized treatment structure known as “Two Phase Orthodontic Treatment.” This can start as early as around age 7 following their orthodontic evaluation.

The goals of early orthodontic intervention are to prevent major development issues that would require additional or more severe treatment later on. Essentially, the prevention of these issues now could reduce or eliminate the need for treatment later.

The types of issues that fall under this umbrella tend to be concerns like:

  • Extremely crowded or spaced teeth
  • Underbites
  • Crossbites

If left untreated, the child’s jawbone may develop in such a way that leads to lifelong issues. Similarly, it’s often easier to correct these issues so the adult teeth have an appropriate amount of space to erupt and grow in the mouth.

Are These Issues Only Solvable When Caught Early?

There are few, if any, orthodontic issues that can’t be corrected after the permanent teeth fully erupt. Many parents choose to wait simply to see if some minor issues go away as the child continues to develop. If your child’s evaluation reveals small concerns that are unlikely to impact their long-term dental health, we may recommend waiting before moving forward with early treatment.

However, it’s important to note that the treatment for a problem at age 7 or 8 may be twice as easy (and faster) than treating the problem just a few years later. In these cases, the prevention can avoid additional years of orthodontic treatment!

Does Early Treatment Mean They Won’t Need Braces Later?

Not necessarily. While early intervention can prevent major issues from occurring in your child’s teen years, orthodontic issues treating early often require the second phase of treatment to ensure their malocclusions don’t regress. For most, this means a year or two of braces and retainer usage to keep their teeth in the proper position.

However, that doesn’t mean phase one wasn’t worthwhile. While tooth position is a critical part of phase two and orthodontic treatment in general, phase one primarily targets permanent bone development issues. The bottom line is that phase one makes phase two an easier process, while also preventing issues that may have lifelong ramifications on their dental health or appearance.

Is It Ever Better to Wait on Orthodontic Treatment?

There are definitely orthodontic cases where waiting to begin treatment is appropriate. Especially when your child’s evaluation determines there are no risks to their jaw development, waiting can make sense. If the problems still persist, or grow worse as their permanent teeth erupt, they can still be treated.

The most common issue that falls under a situation where it’s better to defer treatment is when the concerns are purely cosmetic. Sometimes, minor imperfections in your child’s smile will naturally go away as they progress through these formative years. If it’s not impacting their dental health or development, we can wait to see how things look in a few years.

Likewise, some other types of problems like overjetting, where teeth stick out slightly, can still be corrected without issue when their permanent teeth grow in. The severity of the overjet does make a difference in this determination, but it’s one potential case where you may be okay with a “wait and see” attitude.

My Child Did Not Receive Early Treatment, Can They Still Be Helped?

Absolutely! There’s no age that’s “too late” for orthodontic treatment. Despite the benefits of early intervention orthodontics, any orthodontic problem can be solved or minimized through proper treatment whether you’re 15 years old or 50 years old.

If you’re ready to start treatment now, contact Dr. Andy to set up your initial consultation. We can develop the ideal orthodontic plan to get you or your child the smile you’ve always wanted.


Contact Dr. Andy Today!

Don’t let anything sidetrack you on the road to a healthy, attractive smile. If you have questions or concerns about foods to avoid with braces, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andy!

Phone: (440) 842-8015


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