When Should My Child Get Braces?
While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven. By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for our team to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.
Early treatment allows us to:
- Correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
- Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- Create more space for crowded teeth
- Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
For parents, it’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment. Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see an orthodontist:
- Early or late loss of baby teeth
- A hard time chewing or biting food
- Mouth breathing
- Finger or thumb sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight
If your child is around the recommended age or you think they may be experiencing some of these signs, please contact our team to schedule a consultation for an orthodontic evaluation. In many cases, we may not begin treatment right away. Instead, we have you and your child come in for periodic exams to monitor how their smile development is progressing. This helps us keep an eye on any potential issues and only begin treatment as needed. Early treatment now helps prepare your child to have a healthy, beautiful smile for the future.
Life With Braces
Despite what many may think, braces are not painful. There is some discomfort involved, but this is mainly when the braces are first put on and after some of the adjustment appointments. This discomfort can be alleviated by eating soft foods for a day or two after appointments or with an over-the-counter pain reliever (only if needed). Sometimes, friction between the brackets and the inner gums can lead to tenderness or irritation, which we recommend treating with orthodontic wax. This wax we give out at appointments can be used to cover brackets and leave a smooth surface that will not bother your child.
One lifestyle change that is very important to make a habit while your child wears braces is avoiding hard, sticky, and chewy foods. These foods have a tendency to stick in your child’s braces or, in some cases, cause damage to the brackets and wires.
It is especially important during treatment that your child keeps up a detailed and consistent oral hygiene routine. It is imperative that you encourage your child to brush at least twice a day, and use the flosser provided by our team to clean in and around their braces. Brackets act as a magnet for plaque and buildup, making it paramount to keep up good dental hygiene during treatment so that your child will not only have straighter teeth by the end of their treatment but healthy ones too!