When Should My Child be Evaluated for Braces?

Braces can solve a multitude of tooth and jaw problems for both kids and adults. For children, however, timing is an issue because their bodies are still growing. Your dentist may suggest the need for braces, but the age may vary.


Braces are usually required because of problems with the teeth, problems with the jaw or a combination. Sometimes other orthodontic treatments are also necessary. Crooked, crowded or overlapping teeth should be straightened and properly spaced. A "bad bite" (malocclusion is the technical term) means there's a difference in the size of the top and bottom jaw. An overbite occurs when the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw; an underbite is the reverse. These conditions cause uneven wear, increase the risk of breaking a tooth and can promote decay.


Although the American Association of Orthodontists suggests an orthodontic evaluation at the age of seven, it's also important to consider the state of development. Seven is the age when the permanent teeth start to erupt in many children, but this could vary. Around age 7, we are able to assess if there is a crossbite, narrow arch, or malocclusion that could be potentially problematic. This could indicate a need for early interception of orthodontic care. Sometimes, children at a young age are very self conscious of their smile, we can also help remedy this at an early age. In general, braces are effective when most of the permanent teeth have erupted, which can be anytime between the ages of eight and 14. Tooth and jaw growth also matter as it's easier to guide teeth and jaw into the best position while they are still growing. However, an early assessment can help guide treatment planning, even if revisions must be made as the child gets older.


Again, this varies. We usually perform checks for orthodontic care by age 10 if they haven't been completed before. That doesn't necessarily mean treatment will start then – it's to assess and make a plan for treatment. X-rays can indicate how the teeth are positioned and whether all adult teeth are in, and a mold of the teeth is made for treatment planning. Another consideration is whether the child is old enough and has the necessary discipline to follow instructions about diet and oral hygiene. By the way, it's never too late – many adults these days are getting braces as well.

Each child is an individual, with different needs. The point of early assessment is to identify problems and determine the best time to begin treatment. If you think your child needs braces, please contact us. We'll be happy to make an assessment and discuss your options.