Braces for Kids When Should they get them?

| November 2, 2011 | 5 Comments

girl with bracesI realize that most of you aren’t even close to having to worry about getting braces for your kids so you may not need this article, but things have changed in the world of braces. Today is a big day in our home! My nine year old is getting braces. Nine years old you say? Yes, welcome to the world of aesthetic preoccupation where kids are now walking around with braces at seven years old. This has now become big business but in some cases it is a necessity. My daughter’s front tooth never quite grew in correctly and it stands out when she smiles. Kids are starting to tease her to the point that she is very upset when she gets home from school. We went to the orthodontist and there is actually a two phase plan for kids to get them on before all their baby teeth have fallen out.

There is evidence of the practice of orthodontics, and the use of braces, to correct malformed teeth that dates back to ancient times. Mummies have been uncovered from the ancient Egyptian era that have wires wrapped around their teeth in, what most experts believe, was an attempt to correct them.  Fast-forward to modern times and it seems like braces are showing up on children at younger and younger ages. Why is that?

Most braces are put on an individual at an average age of nine to fourteen years, and they can wear them on average from one to three years. Some think that the advantage for younger children getting braces is that they are not as self-conscious. It is believe that starting  children out  at a young age, it bodes well for their future self-esteem. However, having braces at a younger age, like at eight or nine-years-old, is not right for everyone.  For example, experts believe there is no benefit for children with buckteeth, also known as an over bite, to get braces early. The most popular reason for braces in the United States is for the treatment of crooked, or protruding, teeth. No matter how popular though, treating crooked teeth and over bites means wearing braces twice, for two periods. The child wears them for a while, takes a break, and then they wear them again. Another argument against children getting braces at a younger age is that because they are so young they require frequent trips to the orthodontist’s office, and this equates to more money spent.

Experts in the field of orthodontics agree that the only time it is appropriate to put braces on a child, the level of severity aside, is when the child is being bullied, teased or harassed. Other than that exception, there are some children who would benefit from getting braces at a younger age. Treating an under bite at a younger age is beneficial because you are changing the growth of the jaw before the age of ten, and this is when the bones fuse and nothing, aside from surgery, can be done to correct it.

Parents should be informed that orthodontists have anywhere from two to three years of additional training after they graduate from dental school. This is to ensure the orthodontist knows what to look for and how to approach the problem of whether or not your child is too young for braces.

As a preventative measure, by the age of seven your child should see an orthodontist for an evaluation. The orthodontist will decide, based on his or her examination, whether your child will eventually need braces, and they will give you an idea as to when the braces should be put on your child’s teeth. Most orthodontists do these evaluations for free, and the estimate they give you usually does not change.

Now that we have braces on in our home I will make sure to document what the process.  I can tell you this, the price tag for regular metal braces in two phases – $5K – OUCH!

Comments (5)

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  1. Erin Wallace says:

    We are starting the whole process with our 13 year old right now. He has a Severe malocclusion and more than likely will need external fixators (which isn’t going to be pretty and could be mortifying for my sensitive boy) and prolonged treatment. We are having to come up with several thousands of dollars, but it will be worth it to help him gain some self-confidence that has been robbed by his severely malformed teeth.

    Interesting about the mummies – I eat up info like that!

  2. Me N my Monkeys says:

    My son is 10. We found out when he was 8 that he needs braces.
    Our dentist won’t put them on him until he is 12.

  3. Personally, I think the right time for a kid- or anyone- to get braces, is when he is able to withstand the pain that comes with it. I remember cursing my dentist when I wore braces in high school. I hated the fact that I couldn’t eat what I wanted, those few days after the braces were put on.

  4. TinaB says:

    I totally agree with you. My daughter is doing a wonderful job of cleaning her teeth after every meal, but the pain of the canker soars is really tough. We have all the medicines to try to make it better but it is just a matter of time till your mouth gets use to the braces. Then, once your mouth gets use to it, it is just about the time to get them tightened and the pain starts all over again. Kids have to be ready for the pain and commitment to hygiene that comes with braces. Thanks for your comment!

  5. I think children should have their braces as early as possible to avoid being teased during middle school or high school. Younger children are also less exposed to bullying. Most orthodontists say that children should be screened for orthodontic treatment at an early age (no later than 7). All children should be screened. Even though the teeth may appear straight, there could be underbite or overbite which, like you say, can develop into problems in the future and may require surgery. However, if the treatment is performed too early, the teeth may start returning to their original position, requiring repeat treatment.

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