Are braces for children? Our Pennsylvania orthodontists get asked this question all the time. We have met many parents who want to ensure they set their children up for a healthy, happy smile for years to come. This means starting dental and orthodontic care early. Here is everything you need to know about braces for kids.

Why Do Children Need Braces?

There is the common misconception that braces are a purely cosmetic procedure. However, this is not the case. Straighter teeth prevent oral decay, make eating easier, and prevent pain and TMJ. They also improve facial symmetry and limit trauma and injury from protruding teeth.

Children most often need braces because of:

  • Bad Bites: Oral issues like overcrowded, overlapping, or crooked teeth are the most common reason orthodontists recommend braces for children. Also called malocclusion, a bad bite is an indication that the bottom and top jaws are different sizes. Malocclusion can cause pain later in life.
  • Lost Teeth: Children sometimes lose their teeth too early or too late. Other times they may lose them in an accident. Because new teeth may come in crooked, braces can prevent damage or trauma to the surrounding teeth.
  • Trouble Eating: If your child has trouble eating or complains of pain while chewing, take their complaints seriously. Their teeth may look straight, but there could be a less noticeable issue with their smile or jaw alignment.
  • Mouth Wounds & Enamel Wear: Does your child have sores or cuts on the inside of their mouth? These painful sores are caused by misaligned, crooked, or sharp teeth. Abnormal enamel wear is also a sign that their teeth may be irritating each other while chewing or speaking.
  • Mouth Breathing: Mouth breathing happens when children cannot close their mouths naturally and comfortably, and can cause issues like fatigue, dry mouth, snoring, and bad breath. Braces adjust your child’s jaw so they can breathe easier.

Do not be too quick to reject the idea of braces. Even if your child’s teeth appear straight, there could be deeper problems beneath the surface that braces can remediate.

Braces for Children: What Is the Perfect Age?

You may already notice any of the above issues in your child and may be wondering whether it is too early or too late to take them to their first orthodontist visit.

When it comes to braces for children and their oral health, it is never too early! Our team is glad to sit down with parents and address their concerns. If you take your child to routine dental visits, their pediatric dentist will most likely give you a recommendation on when to come in. We often see children come in for their first visit around age 7. Seven is the age the American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends because this is when children start losing their baby teeth. While we first see patients at age 7, most patients do not get their braces placed until ages 9 through 14. Of course, the ideal age for braces depends on the individual. Look at these ages as guidelines, not rules.

Getting braces for children before their adult teeth come in helps prevent more complex orthodontic issues. While not impossible to straighten permanent teeth (Look at the popularity of adult braces!), it does involve a little more time. After an exam, we may tell you and your child to come back at a later time, but you can rest easy knowing your child’s new smile-in-progress is healthy.

Preliminary Treatments

As stated previously, while we start seeing patients around age 7, most do not get braces until ages 9 through 14. Why is this? Sometimes younger patients need preliminary treatments to prepare their teeth for braces.

Palatal expanders are the most common early-phase treatment. Unlike adults, a child’s upper jaw is actually in two halves. Over time, these halves fuse together. Expanders help give the jaw more space before this happens. Two halves of an expander are secured to the roof of your child’s mouth and connected by a screw, which is turned every few days to help the jaw expand and give new teeth more room. This process can take up to six months before braces treatment.

Children sometimes may need one or two teeth extracted to help alleviate overcrowded teeth. Extractions are a common practice that helps increase the room in your child’s mouth.

Finally, tooth decay must be remediated before your child gets braces. Teeth with braces are slightly harder to brush, causing plaque buildup to worsen. Addressing tooth decay early on will ensure your child has strong, healthy teeth for their braces treatment.

Braces for Children at Exeter Orthodontics

At Exeter Orthodontics, we have worked with thousands of patients, including children and children-at-heart! You are never too young or too old for a healthy smile. If you are looking for braces for your children, we guarantee a comforting, welcoming, and warm environment that puts their smiles first.

Braces for children from Exeter Orthodontics cost only $3,995. This low price includes a choice between Invisalign aligners and traditional metal braces, as well as x-rays, retainers, adjustments, repairs, and any preliminary treatments like palatal expanders. We know the cost of braces is a worry for many parents. Our goal is to ensure care for your child is affordable and accessible. Payment plans are also available.

We have offices in Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Harrisburg, Exton, Springfield, and (as of summer 2022!) Millersville. Request a free consultation today!