One of the most common questions we get asked is when children should see an orthodontist for the first time?
We recommend that children visit a registered orthodontist for an assessment when all their four front teeth at the top and bottom of the mouth have come through. A good rule of thumb is around the age of eight.
At this stage, your child will have enough adult teeth for the orthodontist to evaluate how their teeth and jaw will develop in the future. It will enable early detection of potential problems.
Why do kids need braces?
There are several reasons that children need braces, including crooked, overlapping or overcrowded teeth, or a “bad bite” (also known as malocclusion).
It’s important for your child’s teeth and jaw to line up properly. When they don’t, it may lead to long term or irreversible damage including gum and bone damage, accelerated wear of the teeth, jaw joint issues, and speech problems.
People whose teeth and jaw don’t line up can also have trouble cleaning their teeth, which can be a risk for tooth decay.
What is the ideal age for a child to get braces?
The good news is that most children won’t require treatment when they first see the orthodontist at around eight years of age. It just means the orthodontist will be able to find problems, decide the best time to start treatment, and keep an eye on their growth and development during their younger years.
Young children with orthodontic issues that require intervention, but who are too young to treat, would generally visit the orthodontist annually until they are old enough for braces.
We recommend getting braces between the ages of 12-14 once all adult teeth have erupted, but your child’s head and mouth are still growing. Kids this age still have softer bones and faster metabolism, making tooth movement faster than in mature adults. Growth also contributes to fixing bites because jaw growth can be manipulated and redirected while children are growing.
Treatment is generally faster and more efficient in young teenagers than in adults.
Will my child need early intervention?
Early intervention in children may be required where the malocclusion will cause long-term and/or irreversible damage. By catching problems early before the jaw is set, more significant issues in the future can be prevented, saving your child pain, discomfort and more invasive treatments down the road.
Are there early warning signs that my child might need orthodontic treatment?
If your child has any of these early warning signs, it’s a good idea to get an assessment done by an orthodonist:
- Thumb sucking through childhood
- If someone else in your family needed braces
- Snoring and poor school performance
- Early loss of baby teeth
- Under bites
- Front teeth that protrud
Will my regular dentist tell me if my kids need braces?
Your dentist may notice a problem with your child’s bite or teeth that you are not aware of and refer you to an orthodontist.
However, this is not always the case. Training for dentists is very broad and often focused on general dental care.
Orthodontists specialise in identifying and correcting problems with the position of teeth and jaws to ensure patients have both straight teeth and an excellent functional bite. They are dentists who have had an additional three years of full-time training in their field.
It’s always best to get an orthodontic assessment from a registered orthodontis
With more than 20 years’ experience in the dental industry, Dr Riaan Foot at Wavescape Orthodontics, recognizes that a beautiful, confident smile is important to most people, but that the thought of having braces and undergoing orthodontic treatment can be daunting to both children and adults alike.
We aim to provide caring, friendly and individualized orthodontic care in a fun and relaxed environment.
As a father of 3 young children, Riaan believes that it is important to not only treat teeth, but also consider the emotional and psychological needs of each young patient.