If you’re a parent you were probably asking yourself these questions: “When Do Kids Get Braces?” and more importantly, “What if my kid needs braces?”
If your kid has started losing baby teeth, you’ve probably been wondering what you need to be watching for and when is the right time to report to your child’s dentist. We all want our kids to end up with a perfect smile and their best chances probably lie in addressing dental issues at an early age. I researched the common questions that parents have about braces and dental health for kids and put it all together for you here.
Why Kids Need Braces
Apparently, there are a variety of factors that can play into your child’s chances of needing braces, more than I would have thought. Crooked teeth and gaps are the most commonly known reasons for braces, but these other potential issues are also corrected with braces:
- Thumb sucking
- Permanent teeth that are growing into the wrong spots
- Deep bites
- Open bites
- Other bite problems
- Severe crowding
- Missing permanent teeth
Signs Your Kid May Need Braces
It’s normal for permanent teeth to come in a little crooked and straighten out as they move into position. But there are some signs that could point to your kids needing braces. If you notice things like trouble chewing or biting, difficulty speaking, cheek biting, facial imbalance or asymmetry, teeth grinding or clenching, or mouth breathing, those things can be an indication that braces might be in your child’s near future.
When Your Kid Should See an Orthodontist
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, there is no exact age a kid should have braces. Your pediatric dentist can give you guidance on the best time to have an orthodontic evaluation for early intervention if they believe your child’s teeth have one of the issues mentioned above. The ideal time for a child’s first visit to an orthodontist would be before issues become more prominent.
The Best Age for Braces
The AAO recommends that children have their first appointment for orthodontic issues at 7 years of age. That’s the earliest that kids can get braces if they need early treatment, but most kids get braces between the ages of 9 and 14.
The Best Braces for Kids
There are five different kinds of braces available:
- Traditional metal braces
- Mini braces
- Self-ligating braces
- Ceramic braces
The type of braces your child gets will depend on what their treatment plan requires and also your preference, to some extent. Each of these types of braces has pros and cons according to dental professionals.
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional braces are those full metal brackets, wires, and elastic bands. The brackets are attached to your child’s teeth with a special kind of glue. This system creates gentle pressure that slowly, but surely, causes the teeth to slide into their correct positions.
While these are probably the least favorite type of braces for everyone, they are the most effective at getting the job done. Especially in younger children and even. in the case of severe misalignment. They allow the dentist the most control over the movement of the teeth. But they can also be a bummer for young kids because of the way they look and also the limitations on the things they are allowed to eat. Things like popcorn and certain candies are off-limits. They also require lots of appointments to change the rubber bands.
Some kids may only need partial metal braces, depending on their orthodontic problems. Partial braces are not attached to every tooth and require less metal in the child’s mouth.
Mini braces are just like traditional braces, they are just small and require less metal in the mouth overall. This makes them more comfortable and less noticeable.
Thes braces have the same cons as traditional braces. Some foods are off-limits and lots of visits to the orthodontist for rubber band changes.
These braces are another variation of traditional braces. The only difference is that they use metal brackets instead of rubber bands. This allows for faster movement of your kid’s teeth and fewer appointments for adjustments. The cons are still the same as traditional braces.
Ceramic braces work best for reducing the impact on your appearance because the brackets are clear. But they are also larger, which can be uncomfortable in a kid’s mouth. They work the same as traditional braces, but they are also more fragile and could be broken while playing or eating. So if you considered this option, it would probably be best for older kids.
This option is the most desirable for everyone because, as the name suggests, they are practically invisible and they are removable braces. Invisalign is a series of aligners that are made from an impression of the teeth and then replaced every two weeks by a slightly straighter version that encourages your teeth to move in the right direction. They are effective and come with no food restrictions because you take them out while you’re eating, but there are a number of factors that make these a risky choice for kids.
Invisalign works best for highly responsible patients because they have to be removed and replaced so often. You may have a hard time getting your kid to leave them in if they are causing them pain and it’s also likely they will get lost when they take them out. These braces have to be in the mouth for a total of 22 hours per day to get the job done, so if you think this could be a struggle with your kid, you might not want to risk wasting the money and opt for one of the different options like traditional braces.
When Do Kids Get Braces? Get help making these choices for your kid
All kids are different and the best time or the right age to look into orthodontic care is different for all of them. The best choice for the type of braces for your child may also be different. Talk to your child’s dentist early on and find out what you should be watching for in your particular child’s mouth. There are sometimes treatment options for your child’s smile that don’t require braces, so don’t be afraid to get a second opinion after an early evaluation. But if your kid does need to see an orthodontic specialist, the important thing is to get ahead of teeth problems as much as possible.
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Hi, I’m Jessica! I am wife to Chris, and mom to Kaiper, Alana and Koa. I am a graphic designer, website developer and aspiring author. In this space, I share about everything from parenting, working from home, food we cook, and lots of things for kids! Learn more about me here.