What is the best age to get braces? 8 things to consider.
Braces are practically a rite-of-passage during childhood since many younger kids and teens eventually need them to straighten out their teeth. While most parents expect their child to need orthodontic treatment, there tend to be lots of questions about when to start. Technically, there is no right or wrong age to get braces, but you can consider these things to figure out when your child might be ready.
Know the general age range
In years past, people waited until their kids had the majority of their adult teeth in. Usually, this meant getting braces around the ages of 12 to 15. Now, more is known about how orthodontic treatment can help before this point. As a general rule, your child should see an orthodontist around the age of seven. They might not need braces at this age, but you can find an orthodontist in New York that families trust will provide you with an outline of what to expect as they mature.
Consider the severity of their dental problems
A child whose teeth are slightly crooked might not need early treatment. However, some children have severely misaligned teeth, and this can cause your child to struggle with essential tasks such as being able to eat and speak. If your child’s teeth cause them to breathe through their mouth, bite their cheek or be unable to form certain sounds, then they could need braces even before they turn seven.
Ask about the need for two-phase treatment
Orthodontists sometimes find that orthodontic issues earlier can prevent your child from needing more intensive treatment later. For instance, a palatal expander can open up space in your child’s mouth so that their adult teeth can come in without crowding. If your child needs two-phase treatment, they’ll usually have a brief break between phases to allow their jaw and teeth to rest.
Think about their ability to sit still in the chair
Braces work best if you can get your child to buy into the treatments. An extremely young child, or one who is still learning to manage their behavioral disorder, might need to wait just a little longer to get braces than one who will readily accept their treatment. However, you shouldn’t delay treatment if your child has severe problems or is a bit wiggly. Instead, you’ll just want to find an orthodontist who is experienced in working with children who need extra patience.
Observe your child’s oral hygiene habits
Young children typically need traditional metal braces since they may not have the maturity yet to keep clear plastic aligners in their mouths. This means that they’ll need to follow their orthodontist’s instructions and avoid certain foods while making sure to brush and floss regularly. Although you can help a younger child with this, you’ll need to know that they won’t sneak caramels or popcorn when you aren’t looking. It also helps if they’re already pretty good about oral hygiene, and the promise of straighter teeth might be what your kid needs to decide to brush up on their oral health care.
Plan around their anticipated schedule
Getting braces while your child is younger may have the added benefit of making it easier to get them to their appointments. Older teens sometimes have scheduling conflicts if they work a part-time job or are involved in many extracurricular activities. You may also prefer to get your child braces before they begin a high contact sport. Kids with braces can protect their teeth by wearing mouthguards, but getting the treatment done earlier can prevent mishaps such as broken wires.
Factor in their self-esteem
You might prefer to wait for braces until your child is older, but this could have a devastating impact on their self-esteem. Younger children are often aware of what their smile looks like as their adult teeth emerge, and pre-teens tend to focus a great deal on their self-image as they enter middle school. Helping your child improve straighten crooked teeth may be just the ticket to help them smile more.
Remember that it is never too late
As a final note, you’ll want to consider the fact that you can get braces at any age as an older teen or adult. If you were unable to get your teen braces for whatever reason, then you can still help them to straighten their teeth now that they’ve gone to college. You might also be a good candidate for braces. Correcting your teeth as an adult comes with the advantage of knowing that you’ll be able to follow the maintenance instructions and benefit from new types of braces that make your treatment nearly undetectable to others.
As with many parenting decisions, the right age for your child to get braces is a very individualized thing. Make sure to get them in for an orthodontic visit early, and follow the orthodontist’s recommendations to ensure that your child gets their braces at the age that best fits their needs.