Braces are a staple of teenage life, but you may be noticing them more and more on younger children.
Braces for a 7-year-old aren’t for vanity. After all, the average second grader still has most of their baby teeth to lose. Braces for children are rarely solely cosmetic and instead attempt to correct mild-to-moderate problems that otherwise require extensive orthodontic work later.
What age can you get braces, and is it a good idea for your child? Keep reading to learn more about the youngest age for braces.
Visit the Orthodontist by Age 8
Your kids can feasibly visit the orthodontist as soon as their adult (or permanent) teeth begin to come in – whenever that is.
For some kids, their first trip to the orthodontist chair can happen as young as age six. Other parents decide to wait until their child is older, such as age ten or at the end of elementary school.
Orthodontists recommend bringing your child in at least once by the time they are eight years old.
Even if they don’t have all their permanent teeth in yet, it’s still possible to see probable issues forming. For example, the orthodontist can see if they have an uneven bite, which they may use braces to correct later. Evidence of overcrowding is also present in kids in the process of losing their baby teeth.
Early visits mean kids can get early intervention. That intervention can save your family time, money, and pain once your child’s adult teeth come in.
What Age Can You Get Braces?
There’s no set minimum age for braces. Orthodontists prescribe them on a case-by-case basis according to what the child or adolescent’s mouth looks like.
Getting braces for an 8-year-old is possible. But they are less common than adolescent braces. Why? Most eight-year-olds don’t yet have enough permanent teeth to make it worthwhile unless the orthodontist sees real and pervasive issues in their mouth.
Otherwise, standard orthodontic treatment typically begins between age eight and 14. The likelihood of getting braces accelerates as the child matures.
Can You Get Braces if You Have Baby Teeth?
If you see a young child with braces, then it is likely because their orthodontist recommended using the “interceptive” approach.
Interceptive orthodontics, or Phase 1, occurs when the child still has most of their baby teeth, but the orthodontist recommends getting started early. Orthodontics recommend this approach when the child presents crowding problems. They use braces, or an alternative, to help improve the spacing and encourage teeth back to the right positions.
In most cases, the crowding is mild or moderate. When the crowding is very mild, the orthodontist is more likely to recommend waiting until the child is ready for comprehensive braces (i.e., when their permanent teeth come in).
In other cases, they might use braces or another solution to tackle problems in young children who sucked their thumb or used a pacifier persistently. Thumb-sucking after three-years-old can lead to issues like:
- Narrower dental arches
- Reshaped jawbone
- Protruding front teeth
- Mis-aligned teeth
- “Open bites”
A few more reasons to use interceptive orthodontics among young children include the aims of:
- Expanding their jaw(s) to create space
- Expanding the upper jaw to correct a crossbite
- Removal of baby teeth
- Reducing protruding upper incisors
- Creating and maintaining space for adult teeth after premature tooth loss
Again, orthodontists recommend these measures when the issue is severe enough to require significant work later in their childhood. Sometimes, it’s easier to begin work early to avoid extensive work later.
What Are the Benefits of Braces for Kids?
Although you might be more familiar with the use of braces in 11-14 year-olds, starting young also comes with some benefits.
When they start younger, orthodontists take advantage of the growth of the child’s mouth, which aids their treatment. Interceptive orthodontics typically results in extracting fewer teeth. Using a less destructive method creates better results when the full orthodontic treatment is complete.
Additionally, younger children tend to be more receptive to braces. They’re more likely to be ‘wowed’ by the cool bracket colors compared to teens who might resist due to poor self-image. Younger children are also more likely to comply with the treatment, including following the treatment rules and caring for their braces.
Then, there are the benefits of promoting better oral and dental health. Interceptive braces can do wonders for kids who have jaw or tooth issues. Starting early may reduce treatment time and even limit some of the discomfort associated with mature treatments.
Should Your Kids Get Braces?
Braces for young children aren’t cosmetic tools. After all, young children still have plenty of baby teeth left to lose. Rather, they begin to correct problems and prevent issues that could become more complicated and painful if you wait until adolescence.
Most children don’t need interceptive orthodontics. The potential issues that appear are too mild to benefit from the time and expense of orthodontic work at a young age.
If your orthodontist recommends braces or other work for your child, they will be able to show you why.
An orthodontist will show you the radiograph that demonstrates the clinical discrepancy found in your child’s mouth.
All moderate jaw, bite, and crowding issues show up on scans, and some can even be seen with the naked eye.
If you wonder whether the issues are moderate enough to require intervention, don’t be afraid to get a second or third opinion.
Braces for Kids Solve Problems
What age can you get braces?
Kids should visit their orthodontist by the time they are seven-years-old. Even though they still have their baby teeth, orthodontists can see and predict real and potential problems, like crowding or a crossbite.
When the issues they see are mild-to-moderate, an orthodontist may recommend braces. Problems that can cause gum, tooth, or jaw damage almost always receive early treatment. But even when signs of issues appear, they are often too mild to require treatment.
Have you brought your little one to visit the orthodontist yet? Click here to schedule your first appointment today.