When we think of braces, most of us call to mind an awkward teenager with a mouth full of metal wires and brackets. But people of all ages get braces nowadays, which raises some questions: Is it better to get braces while younger, or are there reasons why it is easier to have braces as a teenager? Is there an age limit for braces? What is the perfect age for braces?
The Ideal Age for Braces
If you are asking this question, you probably have a pretty good sense that braces are in your kids future. Maybe he or she has severely crooked teeth, or a bad overbite or underbite. (If you are unsure, read up on the signs of when to get braces in children and adults.)
The truth is that, as kids, we find our mouths continually changing. Our jaws lengthen, and our mouth area grows and expands. Baby teeth are lost, and permanent teeth start to appear. Thus, you will want to confirm the need for braces with a professional orthodontist.
There's no specific age at which a child should first visit the orthodontist. Some kids go when they're 6, some kids go when they're 10, and some have that first visit when they are well into their teens. Many orthodontists say that the ideal time to see an orthodontist is when the child’s permanent teeth start coming in. For most kids, this is around age 7.
That said, a visit to the orthodontist should happen when you feel it is needed. Often, your family dentist will be the one to recommend the visit, especially if he or she notices problems with your child’s bite or tooth alignment. Your dentist may even be able to recommend someone. (If not, The Happy Tooth would be happy to help you find an orthodontist in North Carolina!)
Is There an Age Limit for Braces?
Not at all! Although childhood is a good time to make changes to the mouth and jaw, more and more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment for missing and crooked teeth, TMJ, malocclusion, and more. The American Association of Orthodontists estimates that one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 18!
Some orthodontists will tell you that there is a lower age limit, however. Usually, an orthodontist will want at least some permanent teeth starting to come in before beginning treatment. You can, however, arrange for a consultation before then. Every case is different.
Are Braces for Kids Different from Braces for Teens? Or Braces for Adults?
For the most part, braces are the same no matter what the patient’s age is. Each set of braces is specifically crafted to the individual’s mouth, so all braces are already customized, taking into account the amount of space in the mouth, size of teeth, health of teeth, etc.
What is different at these different ages is the psychological and social reactions to braces. Take children, for example. Some are excited about getting braces, feeling that it is a right-of-passage proving that they are teenagers, not children. Others, however, might feel anxious about them and how they will look. The best thing to do for a child is to discuss the procedure and help them set healthy expectations.
Teenagers will likely be much more self-conscious about braces. For this reasons, many teens prefer Invisalign, which is much less noticeable. (See here for more on Invisalign Teen). They may also be open to lingual braces or ceramic braces; be sure to compare both.
Do Braces Cost More at a Certain Age?
The cost of braces depends on how much adjustment is needed, and how long the braces need to be worn. These are often linked: The more adjustment needed, the longer you or your child will need to wear braces and come in for regular visits to your orthodontist.
That said, adults often need more time for braces to work. A child’s teeth move and adjust more easily, and so braces take less time to work. Adults may also have problems when it comes to gum disease, weakened roots, etc. For these reasons, adult braces could cost more - but you should speak with an orthodontist to get a detailed estimate for your case.
How to Start the Process
If you are considering braces for your child, the next step is to do your research and find an orthodontist that you trust.
The orthodontist will likely want to do an initial consultation to assess your child’s needs. This can involve taking x-rays of your child’s mouth and bite.
Once this is done, the orthodontist will either recommend a treatment procedure or recommend waiting while your child’s mouth develops.
If he or she does recommend braces, you may want to brush up on other braces content and advice:
- "Convey More with Color: What Colors of Braces Should You Choose?”
- “How Braces Change Your Face and Appearance”
- “How to Maintain Oral Care While You Wear Your Braces”
- “How to Floss with Braces – Best Practices”
The Happy Tooth Guides You Through Every Step
We hope this helps you determine the right age for braces for either yourself or for someone in your family.
As your partner in oral care and orthodontics, we take the time to address your concerns, answer your questions, and guide you through any treatment process. When you’re ready, contact one of our North Carolina and South Virginia offices to get started or to learn more about Invisalign.
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