Braces are almost a rite of passage. Teens like braces because they mean soon they’ll have a picture perfect smile, but those aren’t the only benefits. Braces help stabilize the jaw, improve chewing and digestion, aid speech, and they can even help prevent snoring.
How do you know when your kid needs braces? Ideally you want to visit an orthodontist before your kid needs braces, though it’s never too late. If you’re concerned your child may need braces, ask for recommendations of great orthodontists in your area. Talk to other parents about their experiences, and ask your dentist about trusted orthodontists.
Your child turned seven.
Parents sometimes wait until their children have orthodontic problems to bring them in, but the American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing your children to the orthodontist by the time they’re seven. At that age, even if there are no issues present, an orthodontist will be able to tell if your child is likely to have issues in the future.
This may sound early, but at seven many children have their first molars and other permanent teeth. Seeing a child around the age of seven allows orthodontists to examine young patients before their teeth become overcrowded. When we monitor children as new permanent teeth come in, we can be sure that their bites are stable and their teeth have plenty of room to grow in their mouths. There are certain issues that are more easily treatable for younger patients, since the jaw is still developing. If you wait until they’re older, jaw issues could be much more complicated to fix.
And don’t worry — bringing your child to an orthodontist when he’s seven doesn’t mean he’ll need braces immediately. Most children with braces don’t get them on until they’re between 9 and 14. Your child may have a strong, stable bite, plenty of jaw room for tooth growth, and regular tooth spacing. Your kid may not need braces at all.
There’s a noticeable problem.
Does your child suck his thumb even though you think he’s way too old to do so? Have you noticed issues with newly erupted permanent teeth? Does your child have limited space in his mouth? Does he have a clear overbite or underbite? Does he have trouble chewing food up completely? Does your kid breathe solely through his mouth? Have you noticed baby teeth hanging on when permanent teeth should have replaced them? Does your child grind his teeth or clench his jaw?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, your child should be evaluated by an orthodontist. Braces can fix many of these problems.
Even if your child is younger than seven, consult a specialist if you notice any of these issues. Finding oral problems early on will protect your child’s smile and ensure that he has superb dental health throughout his life.
Your child wants braces.
It’s true! Sometimes preteens and teenagers want braces! As their friends at school get braces and their teeth start to shift into alignment, your child may want to better his smile, too. Having a straight smile is a big boost to self-esteem, especially during the emotional teen years. Even if your child doesn’t need braces, he can still choose to get them to fix mild aesthetic issues.
And remember, it’s never too late to be evaluated for braces. Braces can work wonders for children and adults!