Generally, the optimal age to begin orthodontic treatment with braces is when a child has lost most or all of their baby teeth and has most of their permanent teeth. This usually occurs between the ages of 11 and 14. However, the ideal age for early orthodontics will depend on each individual's unique situation. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that a child visit an orthodontist no later than age seven. At this age, there is still a lot of growth, so it is a good time to make adjustments to your teeth and jaw.
Orthodontic appliances are designed to align and straighten teeth, position them relative to the patient's bite, and improve overall dental health. If you suspect that your child might need braces, it is important to learn when to schedule the first visit to the orthodontist and what to expect. Your child's dentist or orthodontist can assess the situation and help you determine treatment options. Sometimes there are significant orthodontic problems that an orthodontist must address at a younger age, sometimes before age 10. The orthodontist will then examine the child's teeth and jaw, looking for aspects such as jaw alignment, crooked teeth or teeth that grow abnormally, their bite, or damaged teeth.
While many orthodontic problems in children run in families, there are certain actions that can cause them to have orthodontic problems, such as thumb sucking. The first and main benefit of providing orthodontic services to a child from an early age is that each and every one of their oral problems will be easier to treat. Generally speaking, the first orthodontic visit is a consultation to determine if treatment is needed at that time. Starting treatment too early (there are too many baby teeth) can extend the duration of treatment and potentially have more negative consequences.
Parents and caregivers can help by encouraging their child and preparing them for every step of the way.