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At what age should a child get braces?

Dustin S. Burleson, DDS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, children should have their first appointment with an orthodontist when they are 7 years old.  Early evaluation is necessary in order to prevent certain problems with jaw and tooth alignment. Not all patients are candidates for early treatment or interceptive orthodontics at this age. Most children will benefit from a single phase of comprehensive orthodontic treatment, later in life, when more permanent teeth have erupted.

Every patient is different and your child might or might not benefit from early treatment. Based on the growth of your child's jaws and other factors, the ideal time for braces might be earlier or later than another child.

For a safe approach to planning orthodontic treatment for your child, have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7 and then return to the orthodontic office, as recommended, for periodic growth checks until your child has reached the ideal time to start braces. This will save you valuable time in treatment and expense, while still providing excellent results.
One of the most important advances in orthodontic methodology has been to stress the importance of an orthodontic screening  for children by the age of 7 years old. Contrary to the classic "rite of passage" for teenagers to be strapped with brackets and wires on their teeth, orthodontic intervention at a younger age fouses on preventing many types of orthodontic problems such as arch discrepancies, and abnormal eruption patterns to better guide proper growth and dental development in children. Often this early intervention can minimize or eliminate the need for more extensive orthodontic treatment during adolescence or later in life.
A "bad bite," or malocclusion, often becomes noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, as a child’s permanent teeth erupt. Orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. As a result, children should have an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. By then, they have a mix of baby (primary) teeth and their adult (permanent) teeth. Your child’s dentist can spot problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth early on, while the primary teeth are present.

In the past, children who wore braces usually began their orthodontic treatment as teenagers. But now, orthodontists (dentists who specialize in correcting the position of the teeth) suggest starting younger for better results. Children should be evaluated for braces by age 7, according to the American Association of Orthodontics.

By starting treatment before your child’s permanent teeth are in, you may prevent problems with tooth and jaw alignment.

Talk with your dentist or orthodontist for more information about getting braces. He or she can develop a treatment plan for your child.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.