Have you ever wondered why kids get braces so early these days, and sometimes get them twice? Are orthodontists just out to make more money? What’s going on?!
When many of us were in school, kids got braces for a couple years in middle school or high school, and that was that. So, for many of us, the idea of getting braces in elementary school seems strange. But when you understand how the human mouth develops, it makes sense.
The upper part of the jaw, called the maxilla, has soft spots that eventually harden and interlock with the rest of the jaw (much like the soft spots on a baby’s skull). Some problems are far easier to correct while the maxilla is still pliable, including under-bites, cross-bites, narrow palates, and the type of crowding that might necessitate having teeth pulled if left untreated.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child see an orthodontist for a consultation at age seven, because by age nine the window for easy, effective treatment has often passed. Problems can still be treated, but not as comfortably.
If you’re wondering whether your child might need braces, you’ll be happy to know that most orthodontists offer a free initial consultation—and a referral is not necessary. Our consultation includes an hour-long assessment that comes with a full set of x-rays. Once we know the problem(s) we’re dealing with, we work with you to decide what makes sense for your child and your family.
If your child needs treatment, but isn’t ready yet, we begin growth guidance monitoring (evaluating the child every six months to monitor facial and dental development). This allows us to get to know your child, work with your general dentist, and correct oral problems at the optimum time. Like the initial evaluation, this monitoring is free of charge.
When we complete the initial evaluation, we discuss your child’s whole diagnosis with you. Early treatment is appropriate for some problems, while other problems can only be corrected after all the adult teeth have fully grown in—usually around age twelve. That’s why we sometimes recommend that children have braces in two phases: one phase to correct the under-bites, cross-bites, narrow palates, and crowding; then a second phase to correct crooked teeth.
When it comes time for treatment, we recognize that you know your children better than anyone. If you think your child can handle the responsibility of a removable retainer at age eight, we can go that route, depending on the diagnosis. If you believe a retainer will likely end up in the school cafeteria trash can by the end of the week, we generally recommend braces.
So, no, we’re not out to make more money. We’re dedicated to giving your child the healthiest smile we can with the least discomfort. Having a healthy, beautiful smile helps children thrive. It increases health, comfort and self-confidence. If you’d like to learn more, contact us for a free consultation today.