One of the most common questions an orthodontist in Melbourne hears is, “When can my child get braces?” This is a totally understandable question from parents! Braces remain one of the most effective orthodontic treatments for helping a child to achieve the perfect smile, with perfectly straight teeth. When a child’s teeth are crooked, parents obviously worry about speech development, facial development, teasing from the child’s peers and the child’s self-esteem. That’s probably why braces remain one of the top orthodontic treatments that we provide at Melbourne Orthodontics.
What’s the Best Age for Braces?
The best age for a child to get braces is after all of their primary teeth or “baby teeth” have fallen out and been replaced by fully erupted adult teeth. This usually happens by the time a child is 8 or 9 years of age. The vast majority of children who we treat are between the ages of 9 and 14.
But just because that is the best time to get braces from your Melbourne orthodontist, does not mean it is the only time. Many adults also benefit from treatment. We also offer more unobtrusive orthodontic treatments for some adults, such as “invisible” braces, Invisalign or even Invisalign Teen. When a child is younger, their teeth and jaws are more pliable and respond better to treatment with braces. That’s why we recommend that if a person needs them, it’s best to have the procedure done when they’re in that 9 to 14 age range.
Once a person reaches adulthood and their jaw is fully developed, the teeth are more “stubborn” when it comes to shifting them with braces. Braces can still benefit adults, though, and we treat many adult patients through this method, because it still works.
Why Would a Child Need Braces?
The most common reason why parents seek braces for their children is “crooked teeth,” but there are other reasons why your Melbourne orthodontist might recommend the treatment. A child could have straight teeth and still have a misaligned “bite,” for example, which can cause eating problems, speech problems, headaches and other issues. Sometimes braces are the proper course of treatment to correct these issues. This is also why it’s important to bring your child in for those early orthodontic checkups. Your orthodontist is specially trained to be able to tell how a child’s teeth and jaw are going to develop over time. Early intervention is the best way to avoid future oral health problems!
Here are some additional reasons why a child might need braces:
- Baby teeth come out too early or too late
- Difficulty chewing or biting
- Crowded or blocked-out teeth
- Clicking jaw sounds
- Jaws that protrude or are recessed
- Gap(s) between teeth
- Asymmetrical facial features
- Habitual teeth grinding (bruxism)
Why Early Treatment is So Important
Wouldn’t it be great if your child’s treatment with braces could be reduced to 12 months, rather than 18 months? Treatment time with braces varies from patient to patient, but early intervention by your Melbourne orthodontist can actually shorten the amount of time that a child needs to wear braces.
It’s recommended that children have their first exam with an orthodontist no later than the age of 7. This gives the orthodontist time to implement early treatments that can actually shorten the amount of time a child will wear braces. Your Melbourne orthodontist can even tell you during this early exam if it is likely that your child will need braces in the future.
Here are some examples of early interventions that we might recommend for a child:
- Create space in the mouth for erupting teeth, to prevent overcrowding
- Create space for teeth that haven’t erupted yet
- Improve the child’s facial symmetry
- Correct a misaligned “bite”
- Reduce the need for tooth extractions or jaw surgery
- Reduce trauma to front teeth that are protruding
Contact Melbourne Orthodontics
Early intervention by the orthodontist can help to “guide” the adult teeth as they erupt. As a result, the treatment time with braces could be reduced or in some cases even eliminated. It all starts with bringing your child in for that crucial first appointment. This should be done before all of their adult teeth have erupted. Contact us to schedule your child’s first appointment with our experts at Melbourne Orthodontics!