Teenager girl with braces standing in front of a faded gray clock on gray background


Braces for Kids: When to Get Them?

Written By : Generations of Smiles Writers

Reviewed By : Charles Rodgers, DDS

Published: Nov 17, 2021

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

In This Article

Braces are often considered a rite of passage that happens for most people during early adolescence. Braces can take crowded or crooked teeth and align them for a straight, beautiful smile. While it is common for teens to have braces, orthodontic care often needs to start earlier. In addition, braces are about much more than straightening teeth. If you have kids – even young kids – it is important to get them evaluated for potential problems that can be corrected with braces.

Kids Braces: Why do they need them?

Braces for kids are designed to impact both the look and function of your child’s teeth. It can be easy to think of braces simply as a tool to get your child a straight, beautiful smile. Kid's braces can have a big impact on how your child’s teeth look, but that is only one potential reason kids need braces.
Child braces are also used to correct issues such as:
  • Misaligned bite
  • Overcrowded teeth
  • Unevenly spaced teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Open bite
  • Other issues that lead to difficulty with daily activities like eating and talking
Getting braces for your kids to take care of these problems can prevent them from dealing with a number of negative consequences that come with teeth and jaw issues.  
Early orthodontic intervention can also help prevent many issues. An orthodontist can look at the imaging of your child’s adult teeth and spot potential problems. If you get your child into the orthodontist early enough, there may be some problems that can be avoided with braces or other interventions. When you consider early orthodontic intervention for your child, there are a few questions you need to ask: When do kids get braces? How painful are braces for kids? When should kids get braces at an orthodontist?

What Age do Kids Get Braces?

If you have kids who have misaligned teeth or extra spacing in their teeth, you may be asking, ‘At what age do kids get braces?’ It is a good question because many parents delay seeking orthodontic care because they think it is too early. The reality is that the factors determining when a child can get braces do not always have a lot to do with age.

There is no specific age for braces because the question of whether or not a child can get braces is based on the child's needs. Braces are designed for permanent teeth, which means that your child must have some permanent teeth to get braces. There are some situations where a kid gets braces even though some permanent teeth have not grown in. In those situations, the primary reason for the braces is about something other than simply straightening teeth.

Mouths showing overcrowding, underbite, open bite, spacing, and misalignment

How to Tell if Your Kid Needs Braces

If you want to know how to tell if your child needs braces, there are a few things you can look out for. If your child has an overbite or an underbite, teeth that are misaligned, crowded, or unevenly spaced out, then you should look into braces for kids.

It is not always easy to tell if your child needs braces. Your child can have teeth that look straight but still need braces. Bite issues may not be evident in the way your child’s teeth look, but they have the potential to cause issues like jaw pain, headaches, and tooth damage over time. Correcting your child’s bite is an important reason to invest in braces but one that you may not be able to identify on your own. Ultimately, the only real way to determine if your child needs braces is to get the help of an orthodontist.

When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

Timing is critical when it comes to getting orthodontic intervention for your child. When a child can get braces is determined by the type of intervention that child needs. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child get evaluated by an orthodontist no later than age seven. By seven, your child will have some permanent teeth, which will allow the orthodontist to evaluate how they are coming in and look at the jaw's development. 

Why Age 7 is the Right Time for an Orthodontic Exam

Every parent says it: they grow up so fast! One day you’re changing diapers, the next day it’s off to college. Somewhere in between come braces. In fact, it is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of 7- to 10-year-olds get orthodontic treatment. The question is, how do you know when is the right time for your child?
One thing we do know—all kids are different. They differ in both development and treatment needs. So the orthodontist’s goal is to offer each child the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time.*
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children get a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than their eighth birthday. Here’s why:
  • Orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present.
  • While a child’s teeth may appear to be straight, there could be a problem that only an orthodontist can detect.
  • A check-up may reveal that a child’s bite is fine. Or, the orthodontist may identify a developing problem but recommend monitoring the child’s growth and development, and then, if indicated, begin treatment at the appropriate time for the child. In other cases, the orthodontist might find a problem that can benefit from early treatment.
  • Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
Early treatment may give your orthodontist the chance to:
  • Guide jaw growth
  • Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve appearance
  • Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
  • Create a more pleasing arrangement of teeth, lips and face
"By seven, your child will have some permanent teeth, which will allow the orthodontist to evaluate how they are coming in and look at the jaw's development."
The age of seven is early enough to catch issues that can lead to more serious problems down the line.
You can set your child up for an evaluation at an orthodontist to determine if any intervention is necessary. The initial orthodontist appointment will include imaging, an examination by the orthodontist, and a time to discuss the findings. The AAO points out that there can be invisible orthodontic problems below the surface that can often be discovered with imaging.

My Kid Need Braces, Now What?

After your child’s initial appointment with the orthodontist, you may walk away with a confirmation that your child needs braces. After you learn that your child needs braces, you will schedule a time to follow up with the orthodontist to get the process started. 

At that initial appointment, you will also need to get your financing situated. Some dental insurance policies will pay for a part of your child’s orthodontic care. If you do not currently have an insurance plan or financing option for your child’s braces, the Smile Generation has some options that can help. You can explore dental plans and financing options to determine the better option for you.

You may leave your child’s initial appointment without a definitive answer about braces. The orthodontist may want to monitor your child’s teeth over time and decide in the future once more permanent teeth are in. In this situation, all you need to do is schedule a follow-up appointment and bring your child back in when the orthodontist wants to see them again. Some kids will be under observation by an orthodontist for a period of time before any intervention is needed.   
The association of orthodontists advise evaluating your child with an orthodontist by age 7

What Will Happen if My Child Does Not Get Orthodontic Care?

If your child needs braces but does not get them, they could experience some painful consequences in the future. It may seem like no big deal to skip the braces and allow your child to live with a few crowded or misaligned teeth. If a little misalignment is the only concern, then your child could be fine without braces. However, misalignment often comes with issues related to your child’s bite as well.
A bite that is off can cause your child’s teeth to wear unevenly, lead to issues with clenching and grinding during the night, and cause pain in your child’s jaw, head, and neck. Your child may not experience all of these issues now, but they can start to surface over time. Many people who end up getting braces as adults do so because they are experiencing some of the negative consequences of a misaligned bite. Putting off orthodontic care for your child may seem convenient now, but it can lead to more issues in the future.

Find a Dentist Near You to See if Your Child Needs Braces

If you follow the recommendations outlined by the AAO, you need to take your child for an evaluation at an orthodontist by the age of seven. This means that each of your kids should see the orthodontist at least once – even if their teeth are straight. Braces provide more than just improved aesthetics; they can also correct your child’s bite and prevent serious issues down the line.
The good news about taking each of your kids for an evaluation at the orthodontist is that many orthodontists offer a free evaluation. You can schedule a time with a local, trusted orthodontist to learn about the condition of your child’s teeth without any financial commitment. If your child does not need intervention, you can rest assured that you have done what you need to do to be proactive with your child’s oral care. If you learn that your child does need braces, you can get the process started as early as possible and get ahead of certain issues.

It is important to find a local and trusted orthodontist to provide care to your child. If your kids need braces, you will go to orthodontist appointments more frequently than normal dentist appointments. You need to choose an orthodontist who is conveniently located so you can get to those appointments when they are scheduled. It is also important to find a top-notch orthodontist because you want the best care possible for your child.  If you're in search of a trusted orthodontist near me, the find a dentist tool from the Smile Generation lets you search for dentists by location and specialty. You can quickly look up a list of orthodontists in your area to find one for your child.

The dentists who are part of the Smile Generation network are trusted providers who meet a high set of standards. You can use the tools provided by the Smile Generation to find a local orthodontist and resources on paying for orthodontic care.  


Find your trusted, local dentist today!



  • https://www.aaoinfo.org/blog/is-there-a-benefit-to-early-treatment/
  • https://www3.aaoinfo.org/blog/two-thirds-of-what-goes-on-in-your-mouth-is-below-the-surface/
  • https://www3.aaoinfo.org/blog/early-orthodontic-care-may-help-you-avoid-costly-treatments/
  • https://www.aaoinfo.org/_/parents-guide/

Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment. 

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