You would think kids only look forward to getting their braces off. But some look forward to getting them on! It could be the cool factor with friends at school now wearing them. Maybe it’s the fun of choosing different color bands. Whatever it is, the fact that braces have gone from geek to chic raises an important question. When is the best time to get them? There’s no simple answer because there’s no set age, but children can be evaluated for orthodontics as young as the age of six.
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
* Source: The Right Time for an Orthodontic Check-Up: No Later than Age 7. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016 from www.aaoinfo.org
Eric Ellis, DMD
When not busy fighting tooth decay, Dr. Ellis loves spending time with his wife, two children, and his French bulldog Daisy. He is a graduate of Case School of Dental Medicine in Cleveland, OH and completed his specialty training at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.