If your child has teeth that are coming in crooked, you may be wondering how old your son or daughter has to be before they’re ready to wear braces. The answer is simple: it all depends. As a parent, the most important thing is that you monitor how your child’s teeth are coming in and whether or not their alignment (or “bite”) is being adversely effected by crooked teeth. Other issues to look for include crowded teeth (or teeth that are coming in unevenly due to too many teeth in too small of a space inside the mouth; an underbite; an overbite; or protruding teeth.
When in doubt, it’s a good idea to talk to your dentist about the possibility of braces early on. Remember that the American Dental Association recommends that you take your child in for his or her first dental appointment at or around the age of 1 – or when the first baby tooth erupts. So by the time your child has several teeth, he or she should already be accustomed to visiting the dentist. If your dentist doesn’t offer braces, ask for a referral to a trusted orthodontist. The fact is that it’s never too early to have the conversation about braces with either your dentist or an orthodontist recommended by your dentist.
Most dental professionals agree that it’s best to take your child in for an assessment at the first sign of orthodontic problems. Although the exact age will vary depending on the child, many kids are first examined for these issues around the age of 7. It’s at this age when orthodontic problems usually first become obvious, although actual treatment for those problems doesn’t typically start until the child is between 10 and 14 years of age.
The most important thing to remember is that every child is different, and the sooner you talk to your dentist about any possible problems you see, the easier it will be to resolve those issues for your child later on. If your child does need braces, there are a variety of options available in addition to the old standby of traditional metal braces. Alternatives include ceramic braces, lingual braces and plastic aligner trays. Your dentist or orthodontist will help you to decide which one is the right choice for your child. When it comes to addressing orthodontic problems with your child, start the conversation with a dental professional as early as possible, even though actual treatment may not be advised until later on.