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How Can I Tell If My Child Needs Braces?

The common idea most people have for the benefits of braces is that they are used to straighten teeth. While true, there are other oral health benefits in addition to a great smile including teeth that are easier to brush, clean and floss, a reduction in gum disease and cavities, and a reduced possibility of chipping and grinding teeth. 

Over four million people wear braces in the U.S. with over 20 percent of these being adults. 

The general school of thought is that the best time to wear braces is from the ages of 10 to 14 when the teeth can be fairly easy to move. While this is true, it is never too late to get braces. Many who wear braces, at any age, will have to wear a retainer at night, sometimes for life, to keep their teeth straight. 

As a parent, if you think your child could benefit from wearing braces, it is advantageous if you see what your options are sooner than later. There are a number of options for braces including metal braces, Invisalign (basically clear) or ceramic braces. 

Signs That Point To Your Child Needing Braces

Braces will not be considered for your child until they have their permanent teeth, thus the ages of 10 to 14 being optimal for a start to braces. If your child’s baby teeth are crowded and crooked though, it could be a sign that braces may be needed in their future. 

Signs To Look For:  

  • Teeth that don’t meet, even when your child’s mouth is shut
  • Teeth that are overly crowded or crooked
  • Jaws that make sounds like a clicking noise
  • Mouth-breathing indicating an issue
  • Issue with biting their cheek or tongue accidentally
  • Pacifier use past two years of age or sucking their thumb
  • Baby teeth lost too early or too late

Other Reasons Children Need Braces

It is important to note that poor nutrition and poor dental hygiene can cause a child to need braces. Genetics may also play a part. The American Dental Association recommends that good oral hygiene begin when a child gets their first tooth at around six months. You need to clean baby teeth with a soft cloth making sure no plaque builds up on them. 

Children can begin to use a pea-sized bit of toothpaste when they are aged three to five. Parents should make this a fun family activity as they teach their children to brush, rinse and spit. Parents will still need to ensure that their young child’s teeth are clean. 

When children reach the ages of four to six, they should begin regular six month appointments at the dentist for a cleaning and check up just like their parents do. This is key to making sure your children don’t have teeth decay and gum issues early in life which can contribute to the need for braces. 

When Should I Take My Child To See An Orthodontist? 

It is recommended that your child see an orthodontist at the age of seven. Most dentist providers send their young patients for the evaluation, unless of course they have those services in-house. 

Even though your child will be older when braces are actually applied, it is thought that the earlier the need for braces is noted the earlier intervention can begin. Early treatment often reaps excellent outcomes. Children without visible teeth issues should still have an orthodontist evaluation. 

Some parents put off braces for their children due to the expense, number of appointments needed, and just not thinking it is necessarily important. Even with these possibilities, get your child evaluated in case your mind or circumstances change. It is important that parents understand that oral health is related to the overall health of their children.

Be sure to ask your dental office and orthodontist office for possible discounts and payment plans that will help with the expense of braces for your child. Once you see the results of your child’s healthy smile, you will be so glad that you invested in their oral health and gave them the benefit of a confident smile for life. 

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