If you find yourself asking this question, you are probably a parent who is anticipating braces for their child in the near future, or you may be an adult with a dental problem wondering if you are past the age to seek help.
The truth is that there isn’t a single answer to the question of which age is best for braces. Two equally qualified orthodontists will give you two different answers, and they might also recommend different treatment approaches. This does not mean that one is more right than the other. It simply means there really isn’t a ‘perfect age’ to get braces. However, different factors can help you determine the ideal time for you or your child to start treatment.
The Best Age for Children to Get Braces
Most children develop a myriad of oral problems as their teeth grow into their gums. The most common orthodontic issues faced by children are:
- Excessive overcrowding of teeth. This occurs when there seemingly isn’t enough space for teeth in the mouth. It can happen when teeth grow in too large, or when a permanent tooth grows over a retained baby tooth.
- Open bites. Open bites happen when the upper and lower front teeth fail to meet, leaving a gap.
- Overbites. Overbites occur when the upper front teeth protrude past the lower front teeth.
- Underbites. Underbites occur when the lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth.
- Crossbites. Crossbites occur when the upper jaw and lower jaw fail to line up.
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In any of these cases, your family dentist will likely recommend a visit to the orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dentist with advanced training, mostly specializing in the aesthetic aspects of dentistry, such as whitening, straightening, and aligning teeth.
Orthodontists generally agree that the ideal age for braces is when the child has shed most of their baby teeth and the permanent teeth start coming in. This is the age when the teeth structure is easily malleable, making treatment easier. For most kids, this age is around 7 years, although it could go up to 14 years depending on the child. After this age, treatment plans will depend on the cause and severity of the misalignment of the child’s teeth.
Why Early Orthodontic Screening is Beneficial
However, you do not have to wait until your child is 7 to see an orthodontist. Early and regular screening can have numerous benefits, including:
- Oral problems can be identified earlier, and addressing them now will save you money down the road
- It will be easier to guide the teeth for braces, which will reduce the time they have to be worn in order to produce the desired effect
- Long-term treatment can be properly determined
Your orthodontist will help you come up with the best treatment plan for your child. Braces can help to:
- Prevent other teeth diseases that might arise from misalignment
- Change facial structure in cases where the teeth and jaws are severely out of place
- Improve your child’s confidence. Teeth misalignment can change an individual’s facial structure as well as reduce the quality of their smile
- Reduce injury. Crooked teeth have greater potential to cause oral injuries than straight teeth
- Improve speech. Crooked teeth can impact tongue movement and hinder the enunciation of words
- Reduce tooth grinding and wear by aligning the jaw
The Best Age for Adults to Get Braces
There is really no age limit for getting braces. For adults, the best age for braces is ‘as soon as possible.’ This is because teeth continue shifting as we age, and the longer you wait before seeking treatment, the harder it might become to respond to treatment.
Crooked teeth not only affect your appearance and your confidence, but they can also cause you more dental problems. If at this point in adulthood, you are still not satisfied with your teeth, you probably never will be.
Furthermore, orthodontic problems never get better on their own. These problems will likely get worse, and they may give rise to more complex dental or broader health issues. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment as soon as it is feasible for you.
You do not have to feel self-conscious about getting braces as an adult. Adult orthodontics is becoming wildly popular because of increased awareness about teeth alignment’s role in good oral health, as well as the availability of discreet treatments such as Invisalign.