One of the most common questions we get asked is how early is too early to get braces?
It is most important to understand that all of us have individual needs. We all grow and develop at different rates. We are unique. Just because one of the children in your child’s class has braces, does not mean your child needs braces. Orthodontic treatment may be required to influence a developing mouth for a child that needs help.
Could my child need orthodontic treatment?
While people of any age can benefit from braces, we recommend children visit a registered dentist for an assessment between the ages of 8-10 years old. This allows the dentist to evaluate your child’s teeth and determine if they may need early treatment.
This can include adult teeth and treatment whilst the baby (deciduous) teeth are present. This is known as phase 1 or interceptive orthodontics.
Your dentist will recommend a screening x-ray called an orthopantomogram (OPG) to assess the developing dentition and this is recommended for every child by age 8.
This x-ray screens for presence of the adult teeth, and the path in which the adult teeth are developing in case intervention may be required. This is in addition to your dentist being able to screen your child’s jaws for any pathology that cant’ be detected from routine x-rays in the dental surgery (usually checking for decay) or from a visual examination.
Why do kids need braces?
Kids may need braces for any number of reasons, including crooked, overlapping, or overcrowded teeth, or a “non-ideal bite” (known as malocclusion).
Malocclusion is when there is a difference in the sizes of the top and bottom jaws. When the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw, it’s called an overbite.
When the lower jaw is bigger, it’s called an underbite. Some malocclusions require referral to a specialist orthodontist for management. That’s what our specialists are here for.
Sometimes tooth and jaw problems can be caused by losing baby teeth too soon, accidents, or habits like thumb sucking. But often they are inherited, so if you or someone in your family needed braces, it’s most likely that your kids will too.
What to do when your child needs braces
Often, your child’s dentist will be the first to notice problems during a regular visit and recommend that your child has an orthodontic assessment which includes: clinical photographs and radiographs (x-rays) to complete an appropriate growth and analysis of the skull, jaws and how they relate to one another.
The dentist can decide whether your child does indeed need braces and which devices would be best or whether referral to a specialist orthodontist is necessary.
When should I consider braces for my child?
A child’s first visit to a dentist is recommended at age 1 or by the time the first tooth appears — an orthodontic assessment can be conducted early if breathing issues or bite issues are starting to appear. Mostly, by age 6 – 8 years of age, a developing child can start to show signs of malocclusion whereby treatment may be required which may include: a crossbite, severely proclined (upper “buck teeth”) that may be at risk for trauma or even aesthetic problems perceived as a problem for the child or the parent.
This may not mean braces. This can include appliances that can be taken out of the mouth or cemented in the mouth to aid in development or provide correction of simple problems. Braces are usually indicated when a child is in their early teens. Adults can require orthodontic treatment as well.
Here are some things to look for, indicating that a child is likely to benefit from having an orthodontic analysis:
- Early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth
- Difficulty in chewing or biting
- Mouth breathing
- Thumb or finger sucking
- Crowded, misplaced, or blocked-out teeth
- Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude, or are malaligned
- Biting the cheek or roof of the mouth
- Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
- Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face
If you notice any of these problems, your child does not have to wait until age 7 to see a dentist.
What to expect at their first orthodontic visit?
At Empire Bay Dental our caring and highly skilled team can take care of your orthodontic needs all conveniently onsite in the practice.
The First Dentist Visit
rbaAt the first visit, the dentist will thoroughly examine your child’s teeth, mouth, and jaw. They will ask your child to bite the teeth together and ask questions about whether your child has problems chewing or swallowing or has ever had clicking or popping of the jaw.
The dentist may take X-rays of the mouth and teeth to see how the teeth are positioned and whether any permanent teeth still need to come in. They may also make a mould (or impression) of your child’s teeth by pressing a tray of gooey material into the top and bottom teeth. When the mould is removed and the material hardens, the result is a replica of your child’s teeth that will allow the dentist to decide which treatment options are best.
They will also take clinical photographs to record the dentition and bite.
Type of Braces
Type of Braces
Braces correct alignment problems by putting steady pressure on the teeth, which eventually moves them into a straighter position.
Most kids just need braces with brackets, wires, and rubber bands. The brackets attach to the teeth and are connected by a wire and rubber bands. The wire is tightened bit by bit over time to slowly help line the teeth up properly. The rubber bands come in fun colours that kids can pick. Though metal braces are still used, so are clear or white ceramic braces, which are much less noticeable.
Clear removable trays that move teeth, called aligners (rather than wires and rubber bands) are also available, but these are only suitable for some people.
Our team at Empire Bay Dental are here to help ensure your littles one’s smiles are healthy and functional, please contact us today.