how to tell if my child needs braces

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and a great excuse to make sure your child’s oral hygiene needs are being met. You probably take your children to the dentist every six months, but as they get older and their baby teeth are replaced by permanent ones, you may find yourself wondering if it’s time to get braces and what the ideal age is to seek a consultation with an orthodontist. While there is no hard and fast ideal age for braces, you can be on the lookout for some signs that your child needs braces, including:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Backwards or twisted teeth, or teeth that don’t touch
  • Delay in eruption of teeth
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Thumb sucking
  • Crowded or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws and teeth out of proportion to the rest of the face
  • Mouth breathing
  • Jaws that shift, protrude, make noises, or are recessed
  • Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth

Most children should have a checkup with an orthodontist by no later than age 7, and Dr. Foote even prefers age 5 or 6 to evaluate for Early Childhood Malocclusions. Phase I, or early interceptive, orthodontic treatment is typically initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10 to address significant space problems. However, there is often great benefit to intervening even earlier than age 7. The ability to positively influence facial growth and also relieve breathing and airway related issues in younger children is significant.  Dr. Foote will assess whether the adult teeth will have enough space to erupt, and if the upper and lower jaws are positioned properly. This treatment typically involves expansion of the upper jaw to relieve crowding which prevents eruption issues from becoming more severe. if

Full orthodontic treatment with braces or invisalign typically begins between 11 and 14, or at the point when the majority of their adult teeth have erupted. Again, there is no single ideal age for braces—it simply depends on the child’s dental development and their individual needs, but early screening will help to prevent a host of problems later!

Keep in mind that traditional braces are not the only option for your child. If your child is nervous about the potential pain and aesthetics of traditional braces, you can look into getting Invisalign for your child or teen.

Have you noticed any signs your child needs braces? Are you curious about what braces or invisalign can do for your child? Schedule a consultation today!

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