Getting braces is a big deal, both for your child and for you! Braces can mean a lot of work, making sure that they are brushed and flossed thoroughly. Braces mean that your child must avoid certain yummy foods. This can be a challenge for any mom and child. But, braces also mean a beautiful smile. No more pain or problems chewing and biting from misaligned teeth. Braces can bring back lost confidence and give your child greater self-esteem. Totally worth it!
So, don’t shy away from braces. You and your child will be so happy with the end result! The big question is not should my child get braces, but when should my child get braces. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that ALL children have an orthodontic consultation by age 7. That is right, age 7. This may seem a little young, especially if you spent your high school years in braces, but after years of research, early intervention has been proven to be the best route.
By the age of seven, we can begin to detect skeletal growth abnormalities. These abnormalities, in the past, were treated with jaw surgery as an adult, or were not corrected at all. If we catch skeletal growth abnormalities early, they are very often correctable with an orthopedic appliance. Skeletal growth abnormalities are becoming more common these days. If we want to correct skeletal growth abnormalities, this must be done at a young age, before the face has finished growing. Facial growth is 60% complete at age 8, and 80% complete by age 12. If we don’t see a child until age 12, facial balance and esthetics will not be able to be normalized as much as they are at age 7.
So, what is a skeletal growth abnormality? These are commonly referred to by names such as:
Crowding of teeth (narrow jaws)
At Rhoades Family Dentistry, our doctors are checking for these skeletal growth abnormalities at every regular check-up! Your child will be evaluated for conditions like protruding teeth, an overbite, a crossbite or severe tooth crowding. If your child is showing signs of these problems, then braces or appliances may be recommended.
Important Note: Visiting your dentist for regular cleaning will also help you in the prevention stage. Your dentist will be able to keep records of the changes in your child’s teeth and help you identify potential problems.
If your child must get early treatment (before the age of 10), most doctors take a two-phase approach. This means that they use various orthodontic appliances instead of braces during the early stages. Then, after your child has lost their baby teeth, they will begin the next treatment phase, which will involve the use of braces. It is common that the second phase will be shorter than getting braces without phase one treatment. Most importantly, facial esthetics will be more optimal. You may be more in charge of caring for your child’s teeth if they get braces before the age of 10. Most 7-9-year old children cannot floss properly and do not brush as thoroughly as they should.
FYI: Do not think that if your child is over the age of 14 that they can no longer get braces! Teens and adults of any age can straighten their teeth with braces. Getting braces can help with future problems and help your teen feel happy and confident with their appearance.
Know Your Options
Your child’s teeth are really important, so don’t feel like you have to be pressured into something that you are not comfortable with. Discuss your concerns and ask questions during your visit to your dentist. Ask about the benefits of traditional braces versus alternatives like Invisalign. Discuss the process of both phase one and phase two, how each phase will impact your child, and what results you can expect. If you want more information about braces and whether your child is ready, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment!