Wondering what age kids get braces is a frequent question parents ask when planning future oral health needs. This is especially true if one or more parents had braces themselves, and know it may be likely going forward.
No two situations are exactly alike, and some kids may need braces earlier or later than others if they are needed. On average, most kids tend to see an orthodontist and get braces somewhere between the ages of nine to 14. Braces should ideally be put on after adult teeth have come in, but before they have stopped growing.
To learn more about why kids need braces, when to see an orthodontist, and what determines the best age to get braces, read our informative overview.
Why Do Kids Need Braces?
As children get older, adult teeth begin to come in as the jaw grows and develops. For many kids, abnormalities can occur, such as crowding of the teeth or a misaligned bite, which is also called malocclusion. In addition to causing cosmetic problems, these issues can make teeth harder to care for. A misaligned bite may also contribute to speech impediments and health concerns like temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ).
Braces and other orthodontic treatments help to slowly straighten the teeth and bring the upper and lower jaw into alignment. This can help improve your child’s smile and overall oral health for years to come.
When to See an Orthodontist
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should receive an orthodontic evaluation by age seven. During this visit, the orthodontist can check the progress of adult teeth and jaw development. While this is earlier than the age a child would usually need braces, this visit can help orthodontists identify problems early. He or she can then take proactive steps that can improve outcomes or potentially shorten the amount of time a child may need braces.
Best Age to Get Braces
The best age to see an orthodontist and get braces really depends on the child. If an orthodontist sees a problem that really needs attention, he or she may recommend braces as early as nine or 10. For other children, the orthodontist may recommend waiting until they are older to see how the teeth and jaw continue to grow.
The risk of waiting until a child is older than 13 or 14 is that as teenagers begin to reach full growth, their bones solidify, including the upper and lower jaw. This can make it more difficult, longer, and more uncomfortable for braces to do their job. With that said, many adults still successfully undergo orthodontic treatment, so a kid is never really “too old” to get braces.
Types of Braces
There are several types of braces that an orthodontist can recommend, including:
- Traditional metal braces: These are fixed devices made of metal bands and metal brackets adhered to the front of the teeth. A thin metal wire attached with rubber bands goes through the brackets to pull the teeth into alignment. Modern metal braces are lighter and more comfortable than those of the past, making them a reliable option.
- Ceramic braces: These are like metal braces but provide a more discreet appearance. The trade-offs are that the ceramic brackets are less durable, the bands that attach to the wire can cause staining, and they generally cost more than metal braces.
- Clear Aligners, also called Invisalign®: This treatment is a series of clear, removable appliances designed to straighten teeth without wires and brackets while being as invisible as possible. These are usually recommended for older patients with more minor misalignment.
- Lingual braces: These are placed on the back of the teeth, but are otherwise similar to standard metal while being less visible. Lingual braces require specialized training, equipment, and techniques, which makes them relatively rare. Other drawbacks include speech issues and irritation of the tongue.
While different types of braces can have different advantages, such as being more discreet or easier to maintain, traditional metal braces are still the most widely used application. This is generally due to a combination of cost, effectiveness, and adjustability.
The caring, experienced, and knowledgeable team at AC Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics is committed to making orthodontic treatment as pleasant and stress-free as possible for kids of any age. Care is typically delivered in open spaces by friendly and warm orthodontists and assistants.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
Going to the dentist or orthodontist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!