I think my child might need dental braces to straighten her teeth. What's the right age to begin treatment with dental braces?
Answers from Thomas J. Salinas, D.D.S.
It's a good idea to get an orthodontic evaluation by the time a child is 7 years old. An orthodontist is a dentist with additional training, who specializes in aligning and straightening teeth. The best time for your child to get dental braces depends on the severity and the cause of the misalignment of your child's teeth.
Traditionally, treatment with dental braces begins when a child has lost most of his or her baby (primary) teeth, and a majority of his or her adult (permanent) teeth have grown in — usually between the ages of 8 and 14.
Some orthodontists recommend what's called an interceptive approach, which involves the use of dental appliances — not always dental braces — at an earlier age, while a child still has most of his or her baby teeth. Then, when a child has most of his or her adult teeth, a second phase of treatment is started — usually with dental braces. This second phase is thought by some to be shorter than a traditional course of braces if an early treatment has been performed.
Orthodontists who favor the traditional approach say that a two-phase approach to treatment actually increases the total time — and sometimes the expense — of orthodontic treatment with generally similar results. However, other orthodontists believe guidance of growth using dental appliances before the second phase of treatment makes correction easier.
The best choice for you and your child will largely depend on the severity of your child's dental problems. Talk with your child's dentist or orthodontist about the best course of action.
May 21, 2014
Thomas J. Salinas, D.D.S.
See more Expert Answers
- Emerich K, et al. Later orthodontic complications caused by risk factors observed in the early years of life. European Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;169:651.
- Marsico E, et al. Effectiveness of orthodontic treatment with functional appliances on mandibular growth in the short term. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 2011;139:24.
- Souki BQ, et al. Two-phase orthodontic treatment of a complex malocclusion: Giving up efficiency in favor of effectiveness, quality of life, and functional rehabilitation? American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 2013;143:547.
- Braces. MouthHealthy. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/braces. Accessed March 5, 2014.
- Two-phase orthodontic treatment: The appropriate treatment at the appropriate time. American Association of Orthodontists. https://www.aaoinfo.org/system/files/media/documents/Two_Phase-MLMS-l.pdf. Accessed March 5, 2014.
- Your child's first orthodontic check-up. American Association of Orthodontists. http://www.mylifemysmile.org/search/node/your%20child%27s%20first%20orthodontist. Accessed March 6, 2014.
- Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 1, 2014.