How to Tell When It’s The Right Time To Get Braces For Your Children

Very few of us are born with perfectly aligned teeth. It’s common for adolescents to get braces to fix misaligned teeth and a number of other oral health problems. As a parent, you may be uncertain about a few aspects of the pediatric orthodontic process. How do you know when it’s the right time for your child to get braces? What signs indicate that braces are necessary?

Keep reading for everything you need to know about getting braces for your child, including what options you have, and what signs you should look for.


What Are Braces?

Dental braces are orthodontic appliances that are placed on the teeth for an extended period of time. They pull teeth together to fill in gaps and correct other issues like crowding or a misaligned bite.

The main components of braces are brackets, which are small, square-shaped devices attached to the teeth with a bonding agent. Brackets are most often made of metal or ceramic material – they can even be tooth-coloured to make them less visible. A flexible wire runs through the brackets to control the movement of the teeth.

Brackets act as handles for other components, which are typically metal wires or elastic bands. These components are used to control or change the patient’s bite. In less common cases, additional components may be needed, like headgear or anchorage devices.

Why Would My Child Need Them?

For some patients, braces are an optional procedure that can provide cosmetic or comfort-related benefits. For others, braces are required to prevent problems down the road.

These are a few reasons you might choose to get braces for your child. You may notice that their smile is uneven, indicated by symptoms like:

  • Underbite or overbite (an uneven bite is known as malocclusion)
  • Crooked teeth
  • Crowded or overlapping teeth
  • Gaps between teeth

Braces may also help solve issues that your child experiences, including:

  • Speech difficulties
  • Mouth or jaw pain
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Thumb sucking and/or mouth breathing
READ MORE: Dealing With Dental Anxiety In Children

When Do People Normally Get Braces?

It’s most common for patients to get braces as children or teenagers. However, it is becoming more common for adults to get orthodontic treatment. Most orthodontists recommend that you do not get your child braces until their baby teeth have fallen out and their adult teeth have grown in. Indicators that you will require orthodontic treatment can be visible as early as age 7, but sometimes it can take longer. This does not mean you will have to begin the orthodontic process immediately at this age, but it does not hurt to meet with an orthodontist to make long-term plans.

READ MORE: How To Prepare Your Child For Their First Dentist Appointment

Signs Your Child May Need Braces

Overlapping Teeth

It can be particularly hard for a child to clean overlapping teeth. This also creates an uneven smile, and could lead to difficulty chewing, jaw pain, clenching, or grinding. Braces can separate overlapping teeth and angle them to be straight.

Crooked or Crowded Teeth

Like overlapping teeth, crooked or crowded teeth may be harder to clean. Braces can realign crooked teeth and spread out crowded teeth accordingly.

Speech Difficulties

Certain teeth misalignments can make it harder for a child to speak. For example, gapped teeth could lead to unintentional whistling. An open bite could be responsible for causing the patient to have a lisp, which occurs when the tongue cannot put pressure on the roof of their mouth. As a result, the letters “S” and “Z” are difficult to enunciate. An open bite can also make it hard to enunciate the “T” and “D” sound.

Braces can realign teeth to make these speech difficulties easier to eliminate.

Mouth or Jaw Pain

Did you know that braces can help treat mouth or jaw pain? Misaligned teeth can lead to grinding, or clenching, or they can simply be painful on their own. By realigning teeth, the discomfort brought on by misalignment should go away.

Difficulty Chewing

Misaligned teeth, gaps, and an under or overbite can all make it difficult to chew or eat food. Orthodontic treatment can straighten out a smile and make chewing and eating easier.

Thumb Sucking or Mouth Breathing

Does your child have a tendency to suck their thumb? Do they seem to have trouble breathing through their nose, instead only breathing with their mouth?

Both of these issues can be treated with braces. Thumb-sucking can damage teeth and bring forth a number of other oral health problems. Getting braces will help break this habit. Orthodontic treatment will usually widen the jaw, which can help clear sinuses. This will make it easier to breathe through the nose.

In conclusion, braces can treat a number of cosmetic and oral health-related issues for adolescent patients. You may choose to wait until your children are older if these issues are not serious, but it’s still a good idea to speak with a dental or orthodontic professional to be fully aware of your options.