AT WHAT AGE SHOULD MY CHILD GET BRACES?
All kids are different. When or if a child gets braces depends on a number of factors:
How severe is the problem?
Is your child self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth? Is the child mature enough for braces?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic screening by the age of 7. At that time the teeth and jaws are developed enough for the dentist to tell if they will develop any serious bite problems. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at age 7, but it gives the parents and the dentist time to plan the best treatment and still have options available.
Research has shown that serious orthodontic problems can be more easily corrected when the patient's bones are still growing and flexible. By correcting the skeletal problems at a younger age, we can prepare the mouth for the eventual eruption of the permanent teeth. If the permanent teeth have adequate space to erupt, they will come in fairly straight and if the teeth erupt fairly straight their tendency to get crooked again after the braces come off is diminished significantly. After the permanent teeth have erupted, usually from age 12-14, complete braces are placed for final alignment and detailing of the bite. Thus, the final stage of treatment is quicker and easier on the patient. This phase of treatment usually lasts from 12-18 months and is not started until all of the permanent teeth have erupted.
Doing orthodontic treatment in two steps (or phases) provides excellent results, often allowing the doctor to avoid removal of permanent teeth and jaw surgery. Phase I begins while some of the baby teeth are still present. The last part of treatment after all the permanent teeth have erupted is called Phase II. When done in two phases, treatment can usually be totally completed before the child starts high school. This is desirable because high-school-age teens no longer think braces are cool like pre-teens do in middle school. Also, the schedule of high school students is usually more hectic, which makes it more difficult to take care of their braces.
Completing treatment over two phases can also be easier on the parents financially. The cost of treatment split into two phases is the same as one long phase when the child is older, but the cost can be spread out over a longer length of time. Also, the child doesn't get completely burned out on wearing braces. The typical length of orthodontic treatment in only one phase is 24-36 months without a break. Treatment over two phases is usually about one year per phase, with a break in between.
At our office Dr. Boyd does an orthodontic evaluation at every check-up so we can carefully monitor the development of your child's teeth and jaws. This gives us time to give your child the best options available in orthodontic treatment.