kids in class with braces

What Is The Best Age For Braces?

Responsible parents always want what is best for their children, even if the kids don't see it that way. That means yearly physicals, regular dental checkups and an orthodontist appointment if you suspect your child needs braces. While you're preparing for the visit, brush up on the best age for braces.

What Do Braces Do?

Orthodontic treatment solves multiple mouth issues. Some of those issues include teeth crowding, missing or extra teeth, tooth spacing and improper bites. Orthodontic issues are referred to as malocclusions. Malocclusions that aren't fixed can cause problems down the line, including worn enamel, tooth decay and issues with chewing and speaking.

First Visit to the Orthodontist

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends scheduling a child's first orthodontist visit by age 7 or at the first visible sign of a malocclusion. At that age, the child's teeth and jaw are still developing, making orthodontic issues, such as tooth crowding, easier to address.

Your child might be a bit apprehensive about the visit. A good orthodontist will take measures to put your child at ease, like giving them an office tour and introducing them to the staff. Once your child is more relaxed, the orthodontist can conduct the initial exam to determine if treatment is needed. Photographs and X-rays of the mouth and teeth will be taken to help the orthodontist decide how to proceed.

Types of Misalignment

Be proactive about your child's orthodontic needs by monitoring their teeth for misalignment. The National Institutes of Healthreports that improper alignment is very common and often hereditary. There are three classifications of malocclusion to watch for.

  • Class 1: The individual has a normal bite, but the upper teeth just barely overlap the bottom teeth. This is the most common malocclusion.
  • Class 2: The upper teeth severely overlap the lower teeth and jaw, called an overbite.
  • Class 3: The lower teeth protrude beyond the upper teeth and jaw, called an underbite. An underbite isn't nearly as common as an overbite.
If your child has difficulty biting or chewing, speech issues (including a lisp) or a mouth breathing tendency, they may have abnormal tooth alignment. Your child's dentist and orthodontist can assess the situation and help you find treatment options.

Adapting to Braces

Braces are quite common among teenagers. Adolescence is a tricky time, and braces can be tough for teens to negotiate. That's where parents can help.

There are ways to dress up braces — figuratively and literally. Give your kid the option of colored rubber bands as opposed to clear ones to give their braces some flare. You can also encourage them to pursue an activity that interests them, such as trying out for the school play or an athletic team. Be supportive by reminding your child what braces will accomplish in the long term. If you had braces when you were their age, show off your straight, shiny smile as proof.

Not Just for Children

Kids haven't cornered the market on braces. Plenty of adults improve their smiles, too, to reap the rewards that come from fixing bite issues.

Fixing crooked or crowded teeth makes it easier to brush and floss, which reduces plaque and lowers your risk of developing cavities and gum disease. Plus, having a straight smile can give you a confidence boost!

While the best age for braces tends to be during the childhood years when teeth are developing, it's never too late to pursue a healthier smile.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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