Good or bad, there is typically a feeling that rises when you hear that word. It could be the awesome, or terrible experience you had as a child. Or a picture of a mouth full of metal and kids calling names.
It could be your current parental fear of the unknown: Does my child need braces? Can I afford the treatment? How long will they have to wear them? How will I find a doctor I can trust? What is the ideal age for braces?
The answer to those questions from any trustworthy orthodontist should be, it depends. That may not seem helpful yet, so let’s discuss the ideal age for treatment further to provide you with action items and some peace of mind.
The ideal age for braces depends on 3 factors
1. When permanent teeth are present
Permanent teeth are the ones that should stay in your mouth for a lifetime. Not all permanent teeth have to be visible in a patient’s mouth for treatment time to be ideal. Sometimes teeth become stuck and will not come in unless they have professional help. The “let’s wait and see” game is a dangerous one to play without x-rays and knowledge of proper tooth loss patterns. Your dentist may be counting teeth; however, their primary job and focus is overall gum and tooth health and cavity prevention or restoration. An orthodontist is specifically trained and focused on which teeth should be present in the mouth and when.
2. When a child is still growing
Braces not only fix the appearance of teeth, but also the alignment of your child’s jaw. Often there is a discrepancy between the top and bottom teeth. Many parents refer to this as an “overbite”. An orthodontist may use rubber bands that, when worn as directed, help guide the jaw to a more desirable position.
On average, girls experience a growth spurt around age 10-13 with boys following behind at 12-15. Although orthodontic treatment can be completed at any age, placing braces during adolescent growth is ideal. After a patient is done growing, surgery may be the only option to correct jaw and bite issues.
3. When the child is excited for braces
It may seem simple and for some parents, unimportant, however, the child’s excitement may be one of the biggest contributing factors to timing for braces. You and the orthodontist will need your child to follow directions: proper homecare- brushing, flossing or waterpik use, wearing elastics and wearing retainers when treatment is complete. An excited kid is much more willing to take care of their braces, without you reminding them constantly than one who refuses treatment. This makes their treatment more enjoyable for you and them.
A trustworthy orthodontist should take all these factors into consideration when answering the “ideal” age for braces. As a busy mom, you have too many things to do and too many areas to be an “expert” in. Instead of searching Google and scrolling through all the recommendations, you asked for on social media (that ended up being more confusing than helpful), call an orthodontist to schedule a free consultation.
Age 7 is the best time to start free consultations for orthodontics because that is when the first permanent teeth should be present. If your child is older than 7, no mom guilt, just call today.
Dr. Stork is a speaker, teacher, author, and orthodontic specialist. Dr. Stork completed his orthodontic training at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. In June of 2012, Stork Orthodontics opened for their first patient. Dr. Stork is a proud husband and father of two children. He has a passion for people and understands the life of a busy parent. At Stork Orthodontics he offers convenience, comfort, flexible financing, in a fun and positive environment where the patient always comes first.