There are many reasons you may need braces. If you suffer from an overbite or underbite, crooked teeth or a jaw disorder, braces can move your teeth and provide relief. Patients of all ages, including adults, use braces to improve their dental health and the appearance of their smile. If you have children with teeth that need to be adjusted or are dealing with dental issues yourself, you may be wondering what’s the best age to have braces.

What Causes the Need For Braces

Some bad habits such as thumbsucking can cause the front teeth to protrude and create an unnatural bite pattern. While other times, dental issues may be hereditary. If your parents needed braces, you may be predisposed to the same issues and need them as well.

When to Get Braces

There is no hard and fast rule about how old you should be when you get braces. Kids, parents, and grandparents may all be candidates for orthodontic work. If you believe your child may need braces, an initial consult should be performed by age 7. This gives time for an orthodontic evaluation and treatment plan to be developed and monitored.

Your orthodontist may recommend an interceptive approach prior to braces. This means that your child may benefit from having a dental appliance at an earlier age while their baby teeth are still present. It is thought that earlier intervention may cut down on the total treatment time and achieve the desired result sooner.

Braces are generally applied when the head and mouth are still growing, typically between ages 10 and 14. Preventative care at these ages can be used in conjunction with medical intervention to guide the teeth to the desired positions.

While there are physical considerations, you should also consider the maturity of your child. When braces are applied, the patient needs to be responsible enough to properly care for them. This means avoiding foods that may damage or break their braces and taking extra care to remove food particles from the wiring and brackets. Foods such as gum, popcorn and hard candy also need to be avoided as they commonly damage or break braces. The patient needs to diligently practice good oral health habits such as flossing, brushing and keeping cleaning appointments.

Types of Braces

There are three basic types of braces. Metal braces include wires, brackets and rubber bands. The wires are slowly tightened to move the teeth to the desired placement. This traditional style of braces is now available in clear and ceramic materials and can be much less noticeable. These may also be applied to the back of the teeth making them barely visible.

Aligners are an alternative that consists of a clear plastic, removable trays. Aligners tend to be more comfortable than traditional braces but are not a fit for every patient. An orthodontist visit is needed to determine if you are a suitable candidate.

In addition to braces, there may be other dental appliances that are needed to achieve your desired result. This can include items such as headgear, which wraps around the back of your head to increase the force used to move your teeth. Headgear is typically only worn at night.

How Long is Treatment?

The treatment time depends on your existing teeth, how much movement is needed and how diligent you are about maintaining your treatment. If you opt for aligners but regularly miss appointments and tray changes, you can slow down your progress. If you stick to your treatment plan, you can expect to have braces for anywhere from 12 to 30 months.

Each person and his or her needs are specific to the individual. That’s why it is so important to work with a dental team that does not believe one size fits all. Contact our office today and let us partner with you to meet your goals. We will work hand in hand with you to achieve your healthiest, most radiant smile.