Did you know? Up to 75% of kids can benefit from braces! Braces can fix functional problems, like a misaligned bite, improper swallow, even certain breathing disorders. They can also help to straighten teeth and improve the shape of the face. 

Because some children start to lose their baby teeth (and get visits from the Tooth Fairy!) as early as age five or six, the timing of dental braces is critically important. What should you know about braces, and when is it the right time for your child or teen to get them? Let’s get aligned!


What are braces? 

Dental braces are orthodontic tools that help restore smile confidence and improve dental health by straightening teeth. While there are several types of braces, all aime to solve jaw and tooth alignment issues by placing constant, light pressure onto the tooth roots for an ongoing period of time. This leads the bone around the root to slowly change, allowing the entire tooth to move into the new, preferable position. 

There are four different types of dental braces: 

  • Traditional braces composed of stainless steel brackets. These attach to the front of the teeth, along with light wires and tiny rubber brands. 
  • Ceramic braces are just like traditional braces, but the brackets are ceramic instead of stainless steel. These brackets are available in a variety of colors, including clear and tooth-colored. 
  • Lingual braces also use brackets and wires to correct teeth, but these brackets are attached to the back of the teeth instead of the front. These are often a more expensive and time-consuming option, but they are easier to hide when you smile. 
  • “Invisible” braces do not use brackets at all. Instead, they utilize a series of thin retainers made of a clear plastic to slowly move your teeth. While these are a removable option, they do need to be worn for at least 22 hours each day. 

Braces are particularly important for children because they can help reduce long-term repercussions like jaw pain, surgical needs, or tooth pain while chewing. 


Is there a minimum age for dental braces? 

The ideal age for a child to get braces is between 9 and 13 because this is the time frame when their permanent teeth begin coming in, and any potential issues begin to reveal themselves. However, there is no specific age that is one size fits all for every child – the timeline for braces is based on the needs of each individual child or teen.

As your child’s first teeth begin to wiggle around age 7, it’s a good idea to take your child to their first orthodontist visit in order to try and identify any issues early on. Especially if they have overcrowded or crooked teeth, gaps between their teeth, an overbite or underbite, or a misaligned jaw, they are likely a good candidate for braces! 


How can you tell if your child needs braces?

First things first, a dental professional is your best friend in deciding if (and when!) braces are right for your kiddo. For this reason, regular dentist appointments are so important. 

But as a parent or caregiver, you can keep an eye out for some signs that braces might be good to consider. Early or late loss of baby teeth can be a common sign of orthodontic problems. Another sign is misaligned jaw and improper bite (like an overbite, underbite or crossbite), as well as crowded teeth or irregular teeth alignment. Behaviors can also help you know if your child might need braces. Prolonged habits, like thumb sucking or mouth breathing, can cause orthodontic concerns, as well as problems with chewing or biting. 


How long do braces take to work? 

The initial process of getting dental braces for your child or teen is not very time consuming. The dental care team will start by taking x-rays of your child’s teeth, as well as models or impressions. This will help to diagnose your child’s bite and identify any underlying problems. After this point, your dental care team will be able to give you a timeline estimate, work with you to choose the best type of dental braces for your needs, and answer any questions you may have. 

Most people wear dental braces for 1-3 years, but this timeline depends on what issues the braces are helping to fix, and how closely your child follows all instructions. Depending on the type of braces, you’ll need to return to the dental office for periodic adjustments, and will likely use a retainer for a period of time after the braces are removed! 

Especially for a child or teen, this may seem like a very long timeline. It’s important to help them understand that braces work very slowly on purpose! The goal is to move teeth slow enough to ensure that the jawbone can fully adapt to all new positioning. If any misalignment is identified, it’s strongly encouraged to have it corrected sooner rather than later. Early treatment can help prevent more serious problems from developing. 


Is it time for your child to get dental braces? 

As you consider dental braces and how they can potentially help your child, it’s important to build a positive, ongoing relationship with a dental team you can trust. Since every individual child’s case is different, the Rhoades DDS team is always here to help you connect with the care you need. Contact us today, whether you have questions about the different types of dental braces or you’re looking to schedule your child’s first orthodontist appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!