Why are Kids in Braces at Younger Ages?
If you had braces as a teenager or had friends who did, it might seem strange to you to see much younger children wearing them today. The rule of thumb used to be to wait until at least age 11 when all of the permanent teeth had erupted before starting orthodontic treatment. Today, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every child visit a dentist or orthodontist for a comprehensive evaluation by age seven.
Technology and Treatment Changes
The biggest reasons for the shift from children getting braces as a pre-teen to potentially as young as early elementary school is that both dental technology and orthodontic treatment procedures have changed significantly. In the past, kids who needed braces often had to have one or more teeth pulled first. They also had to wear headgear at night and the treatment time was much longer than it is today. With newer technology, orthodontists can evaluate early growth and prevent problems with permanent teeth before they erupt in a child’s mouth.
Why Age Seven is Ideal for an Orthodontic Evaluation
By the time a child reaches age seven, it’s easy for an orthodontist to spot any potential issues with tooth eruption or growth. This evaluation makes it possible for them to determine if the child has enough room in their mouth for the remaining teeth to come in properly. If the orthodontist does detect problems, they can intervene to help the jaw grow as it should. When the jaw grows correctly, it’s no longer necessary to extract teeth or perform other interventions prior to a child receiving braces.
When children start orthodontic treatment between the ages of seven and ten, it’s typically in phases of eight to 12 months. This allows orthodontists to evaluate the effectiveness both before and after the remaining permanent teeth erupt. Kids who won’t benefit from early intervention will start treatment at the typical age of around 11.
Most Common Reasons That Children Need Braces
The reason why a child might need braces varies significantly between individuals, no matter what their age. Here are some of the most typical reasons that a dentist may refer your child to an orthodontist for an evaluation:
- The effects that habits such as thumb-sucking or thrusting the tongue has on the teeth
- Delayed eruption of the upper and lower two front teeth
- Existing teeth too crowded for new teeth to grow in properly
- Crossbite, which means that some of the upper teeth fit behind the lower teeth when the child closes their jaws
- Overbite, or buck teeth, means that the upper teeth protrude much further than the lower teeth
At Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we will always explain the reason for a recommendation and answer any questions as well. It’s our goal to make your child feel as comfortable as possible while under our care. Please contact us at 937-885-2222 if you have additional questions.