How Early Can Children Get Braces?
By Kellyn Hodges on April 04, 2014
Braces seem to be a nearly universal experience among adolescents, and most adults can remember their years of orthodontic treatment. While you may have had braces in your teens, if your young child has severely crooked teeth, you may be wondering if it is too early to for him or her to get braces. At our Philadelphia practice, we place braces on children of all ages. While orthodontic treatment is typically more suited for older adolescents, there are no hard and fast rules on the matter, and younger children often benefit from teeth straightening, as well. Of course, scheduling an appointment with your orthodontist is the best way to tell if braces are right for your child - and it is never too early to make a consultation.
The Importance of Early Evaluation
Dr. Hodges recommends that children receive their first orthodontic evaluation around age 7. Around this age, their first adult teeth have started to appear, and your orthodontist can check for the first signs of serious issues such as malocclusion (a misaligned bite), a narrow jaw, or protruding teeth. These conditions are often easier to treat when children are between ages 7 and 10, since their jaws are still growing, and they will adapt more quickly to corrective devices. Treatment at this age is called Phase I treatment, since children will typically require further treatment when they are older. However, by correcting underlying skeletal issues at an earlier age, the braces will be more effective and efficient later on. This early treatment can often help in the treatment of speech impediments, and it can eliminate the need for oral surgery in the future. Early treatment can also be of enormous benefit to children who face bullying because of their crooked teeth.
The Typical Age for Braces Placement
Although all children should receive an early orthodontic evaluation, most kids get braces between ages 10 and 14, when most or all of their permanent teeth have come in. At this age, children who have undergone Phase I orthodontic treatment may also receive Phase II care. This treatment typically involves the placement of traditional metal braces. Phase II treatment will last a different amount of time for each patient, depending on the extent of correction required. However, most patients wear their braces for about two years to receive maximum benefits.
Why Get Braces?
Many people think of braces as simply a cosmetic enhancement. While straighter teeth will certainly enhance your child’s appearance and perhaps even give him or her a social and professional advantage later in life, there are other health-related reasons to get braces. As stated above, braces can help to realign a protruding jaw or malocclusion, often preventing the development of TMJ disorder. If your child has severely crooked teeth, it can also make dental hygiene more difficult, increasing his or her risk for cavities and decay. Crooked teeth often become worn down, which can have both cosmetic and health-related ramifications.
Schedule an Appointment for Your Child
If your child is at least 7 years old, getting an orthodontic evaluation could help to protect his or her future dental health. Contact our office and schedule your appointment with Dr. Kellyn Hodges today.