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Is It Too Soon for My Child to Get Braces?

Most parents know that getting braces can help improve their child’s bite mechanics, smile aesthetics, and confidence — and even help avoid tooth issues in the future. But what parents might not know is when their child should begin treatment.

Brendan Smith, DDS, MS, and his team at Freedom Orthodontics in Cedar Park, Texas, focus on a custom, individualized approach to orthodontic treatment for kids. Dr. Smith knows there’s no single “correct” answer for every child. However, there are some helpful guidelines you can follow to make sure your child’s braces treatment begins at the most beneficial time. 

Early evaluation

Before touching on the best age for braces, it’s important to note that your child should be evaluated for orthodontic treatment even before braces are applied. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic evaluation at around age seven. 

That probably sounds young to a lot of parents, but early evaluation can play an important role in your child’s treatment — and it could even help avoid treatment or shorten the course of their care. That’s because by age seven, your orthodontist can spot early signs of problems, offering interventional treatments before problems become more serious.

For instance, a child with a very small mouth or narrow jaw may show evidence of crowding even before their adult teeth fully emerge. Interventional treatments like palatal expanders work in tandem with your child’s natural development, gently enlarging the space for upper teeth so future crowding issues can be minimized or avoided.

Of course, kids don’t always require interventional treatment at this stage, but those early visits are still important for providing a baseline and helping Dr. Smith map out future treatment to help your child enjoy all the benefits of orthodontic therapy.

The ideal time for braces

When it comes to actually getting braces, there’s no specific right time or age that can be applied to all kids. As a skilled orthodontist, Dr. Smith recommends the optimal age for braces for your child based on years of research and experience. 

The AAO notes, however, that braces treatment usually begins between the ages of 9-14 for most kids. This is when a lot of adult teeth are emerging, enabling Dr. Smith to perform advanced modeling of your child’s jaw and bite pattern to ensure optimal outcomes. 

It’s also an age when your child will be better positioned to provide adequate care for their braces. Braces do require special brushing and flossing techniques. By the time your child is an adolescent, they’re able to understand the mechanics of care and follow instructions to keep their braces intact and their teeth and gums healthy. 

Initiating treatment during adolescence also helps ensure that your child’s braces will be off by the time they’re in their mid-to-late teens, a time when braces may make them feel more self-conscious. 

Invest in your child’s beautiful smile

Braces and other types of orthodontic treatment can help your child enjoy a more beautiful smile and better oral health. To learn more about orthodontic care or to schedule an evaluation for your child, call Freedom Orthodontics or book an appointment online today.

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