How Young is Too Young for Braces?

If you’re noticing more kids wearing braces at a younger age, you might be thinking you should do the same for your children. The earlier the better, right?

But on the other hand, you know braces are expensive, and besides, shouldn’t you wait until all of your child’s adult teeth are in before you start straightening them with braces?

At Millennium Park Orthodontics in Chicago, Howard Spector, DDS, and our expert team have been answering questions like these for many years. Here’s our best advice to parents.

When should my child see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children should have an orthodontic screening by age 7 (or earlier if you notice an orthodontic problem). By this age, most kids have all of their first molars and their first set of permanent incisors. So your orthodontist should be able to evaluate the relationship of your child’s teeth to each other.

Should treatment start right away?

In most cases, kids age 7 and younger will not benefit much from early orthodontic treatment. If your child has crowding or spacing issues or a mild overbite, the best strategy is usually to wait for a while and have them reevaluated once a year. 

If it appears that your child may have a serious orthodontic issue — such as a severe overbite, underbite, or crossbite — we may recommend a Phase 1 treatment. A Phase 1 treatment may involve partial braces or another type of appliance. The purpose of a Phase 1 treatment is to prepare their mouth for when they're ready to have full braces.

How do I know what to do?

Because every child is unique, age shouldn’t be the determining factor. The question should be, when are their teeth ready for treatment? 

To avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, here’s a proven plan: Take your child to the orthodontist for a screening by age 7. This early consultation will give you an idea of what issues your child may face in the future and whether or not they may need early treatment. 

If there are no current issues, continue seeing the orthodontist on a yearly basis. If your child needs orthodontic treatment, your provider will tell you when it’s time. This approach will make sure your child gets the right treatment at the right time.

To see if your child may need braces, and to know when they might need them, book an appointment over the phone with Millennium Park Orthodontics today.

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