Nearly 4 million children under the age of 18 in the United States and Canada are currently wearing braces. How do you know if your child should be one of them? Here are some guidelines to help you decide.
Braces are used to move teeth into the best position, but remember that braces are not only about appearance. They fix minor problems from slightly crooked teeth to serious issues like jaw disorders. With treatment, your orthodontist can repair overbites, underbites, and reposition teeth. Orthodontics may also correct problems like speech impediments, TMJ pain, and teeth grinding.
The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that kids have their first orthodontic consultation by age 7 so that your orthodontist can take preventative actions and possibly avoid the need for braces in the future. Usually, children get braces between the ages of 10 and 14 because kids in this range have some permanent teeth and are still growing. Your dentist is a great resource for telling you if your child, regardless of age, should see an orthodontist. Because 25 percent of today’s orthodontic patients are adults, any individuals with concerns should schedule an orthodontic consultation.
You may observe some obvious signs that braces are in your child’s future, such as very overcrowded or crooked teeth. Some kids may have trouble chewing or closing their lips over their teeth. If children grind their teeth or have a history of thumb-sucking, orthodontic problems may arise. Early or late tooth loss is another sign that braces may be necessary as your child grows.
Keep in mind that a dentist’s or orthodontist’s recommendation does not mean that you have no choice about your child’s treatment plan. Make sure you understand the reasons for the suggested treatment, and ask any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to get a second opinion so that you are completely confident in the decision you are making about your child’s smile.