When Is Too Early to Put Your Kid in Braces?
Braces have always seemed to be a rite of passage for our middle school and maybe high school years, but it may surprise you to learn that orthodontic care starts a lot earlier. The recommended age for an initial orthodontic evaluation is around 7 years old. Does that mean a 7 year old should get braces? It is actually more complicated than that.
When is too early to put your kid in braces?
At around 7 years of age, your child’s first adult teeth will start to come in so this is why it is a good time to have that initial checkup. This will allow the orthodontist to catch any serious issues like malocclusion, a crossbite, a narrow jaw, or protruding teeth early that will prevent normal development from progressing. Also, sometimes the protrusion is so severe that the teeth are at high-risk for being damaged.
If these issues are identified, then your orthodontist will recommend Phase 1 treatment to address any underlying skeletal issues. For instances sometimes the upper or lower jaw is either growing too much or not enough causing alignment and crowding issues. During this phase treatment include expansion, or wearing an active retainer or partial braces and typically lasts from nine to 18 months. Usually then the child will wear a retainer and have regular checkups every four to six months until all the permanent teeth are in. Then if needed, they will also undergo Phase II care.
It is important to remember that this phase is not necessary for most children. If an orthodontist recommends it for you, make sure you see and understand the problem and agree with the solution. In certain cases, this early treatment can prevent issues with speech and prevent the need for oral surgery later to correct these issues.
If you don’t agree or have any concerns, however, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. An orthodontist should always be more on the conservative side when recommending Phase 1 treatment so if it seems like he or she is pushing for it, don’t let yourself get pressured into anything that feels wrong.
There are some concerns to consider if you are considering early treatment for your child. Number one, treatment will drag on for a lot longer when there are still baby teeth in the mouth. Some part of the treatment will have to be delayed until the permanent teeth are at least visible in the gums otherwise brackets cannot be placed on them. Also if your child’s growth pattern is longer than average, your child will outgrow any corrections done and will need additional treatment. This will lead to unnecessary discomfort for your child and a greater financial and time commitment for you. Also, if phase one includes oral surgery, there are risks of infection and the potential trauma of going through surgery at a young age that you should also consider.
If you are nervous about even just taking your child in for an early evaluation, remember that an early orthodontic evaluation does not necessarily early treatment. Most kids will still receive braces between the ages of 10 and 14, after all of their permanent teeth have come in. Most kids will just undergo Phase II care and not both.
Phase 2 is what you think of as typical orthodontic treatment when your child wears braces or aligners and then a retainer to help move crooked teeth into more natural alignment. Most common orthodontic treatments include in phase 2 are traditional metal braces, Invisalign aligners, lingual braces and ceramic braces. Here is what you need to know:
A combination of metal and wires that slowly move your teeth into better alignment is the most traditional approach. The metal brackets are adhered to your teeth and can only be removed by the orthodontist at the end of the treatment. At each visit, the orthodontist will slowly tighten the wires to shift your teeth into a better position. There are certain food and drink restrictions with this type of treatment, and typically you will have to wear them for up to three years. However, most bite and alignment issues can be successful treated with metal braces.
Treatment will Invisalign consists of wearing removable clear plastic aligners. You will receive a new set of aligners every two weeks or so as your teeth gradually shift into better position. Besides being practically invisible, these aligners can be removed while you eat and drink and brush your teeth. This means there are not as many restrictions as there are with metal braces. However, you must make sure you keep the aligners in for at least twenty to twenty-two hours a day in order for them to be effective. There might be some bite or alignment issues that can’t be fixed with this type of treatment.
If having braces that are pretty much invisible to other people is important to you, ceramic braces is another option you can choose. Brackets made of tooth-colored ceramic blends in more easily that the metal brackets.
Another option is to get lingual braces, which basically means that the braces will be attached to the backs of your teeth instead of the fronts, making them practically invisible. Not every orthodontist though is skilled in this approach and there are certain bite or alignment issues that these braces won’t work for.
No matter which type of treatment you decide on, you will want an orthodontist in the Philadelphia, PA, area, who is experienced and has proven success in treating different alignment issues. Do you research, ask for referrals and go on at least several initial consultations before making any final decisions. This is a big investment and you don’t want to take it lightly.
Consider Orthodontics Limited. Orthodontics Limited is one of the top orthodontists in Philadelphia and will offer you individualized attention, an experienced and caring staff and the most up-to-date equipment and technology.
Want to learn more? Call Orthodontics Limited today.