Many people wonder, “What is the best age for braces?” They are more frequently seen in children, but is that really the best time to get them? Is it better to wait until after all of the baby teeth have been replaced or is it better to intervene early? These are all valid questions and there are many factors to consider when determining the best time for anyone to have braces. The truth is that there are many types of braces both children and adults can benefit from braces. There isn’t a specific orthodontic treatment age. However, there are benefits of early orthodontic intervention which also requires early orthodontic evaluation.

Ideal Age For Orthodontic Treatment

The ideal age for orthodontic treatment will vary from patient to patient depending on a number of factors. These include jaw shape and size, tooth shape and size, oral hygiene, diet, overall health, and family history. Some of these factors can be noticed and mitigated if an early orthodontic evaluation is performed. For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child receives an evaluation by the age of seven.
It may seem that seven is young for orthodontic care, but these early evaluations can detect a number of problems. Around this age, children have typically lost several teeth. This can cause issues with spacing so that teeth are overcrowded or crooked. An orthodontist can see this and potential jaw issues in an evaluation and make an appropriate plan. While this can mean braces for children, that isn’t always the case. There are other orthodontic treatment options that can be weighed and discussed.

Benefits of Early Intervention

Noticing these issues earlier often means there are more treatment options. But what issues do these early evaluations detect and what are the treatment options? Young children are rapidly undergoing a lot of physical changes and their mouth is no exception to this. Their jaws are developing and their baby teeth are being replaced by larger ones.

Jaw development is an issue that orthodontists commonly need to intervene in with children. They can have underdeveloped jaws that cause overcrowding. This can lead to broken teeth and pain. Jaws can also be misaligned, which leads to bite issues. This can come in many forms, such as the bottom jaw extending past the front of the top jaw. Aside from this not being the typical aesthetic, it can also cause trouble with chewing.

Another risk that young children face is damage from front teeth protrusion. This occurs if the front teeth grow in at such an angle that they damage the tissues of the mouth. This can cause both pain and difficulties with eating and nutrition.

As children are getting their permanent teeth, it is a good time to intervene with their oral hygiene and cosmetic aspects of their teeth. As they are losing and growing teeth, they often become hyper-aware of the way that their teeth appear. This can make them more receptive to hearing about the importance of oral hygiene. An orthodontist can discuss proper techniques with them.
While all of these potential issues in children’s teeth can seem overwhelming, early detection means more options for treatment. In the case of an underdeveloped jaw, expanders can be a great option, and implementing them early will help deter pain from cramped teeth. If the crowding is present but to a lesser extent, spacers may be implemented instead.

For issues that only affect a few teeth, such as protruding front teeth, partial braces for children may be used. Improved hygiene and self-esteem are only a couple of the orthodontic benefits that children will receive from early intervention orthodontics.
Patients in this age range can benefit from discussions about oral hygiene and care of their orthodontic equipment. This can help them gain confidence in their ability to do things independently. However, parents will likely still need to be involved to ensure that proper hygiene is maintained and no pieces are lost.

Orthodontic Treatment for Adolescents

Adolescence is a very common time for people to have braces. In fact, it is probably the age range that most picture when you describe someone as having braces. There are many reasons why individuals in this age range have braces at a higher rate than other age ranges. One factor is that by this time in their life, they have lost most of their baby teeth and can visualize and feel how their new set has settled in.

People in this age range are also more able to locate and communicate problem areas. This means if their back teeth have come in at a strange angle that isn’t visible, they can tell that those teeth are causing pain or difficulty with chewing. Another common issue is jaw misalignment. While more dramatic jaw issues will likely have been noticed during younger years, more subtle clicks and locks may not be noted until adolescence.

Even though early evaluations and interventions are recommended, adolescents are certainly not too old to benefit from orthodontic consultation. These consultations will help determine the extent of any issues and be the deciding time for what can be done to correct them.
Fortunately, since many adolescents have braces, the stigma around having them is reduced. Braces for adolescents are highly effective because their mouths are still in a period of rapid growth. Their recent teeth-shifting means that their teeth are easier to shift into their optimal location.

However, braces aren’t the only adolescent orthodontic treatment. Partial braces, spacers, retainers, and expanders can be used in this age range as well. The determination for the best treatment will be made after the evaluation and after a discussion between the patient and provider.
Patients in this age range are encouraged to express their thoughts. This means they should describe any pain or issues they having with their teeth, mouth, and jaws. It also means they should discuss their desired outcomes and treatment.

If they play a lot of sports or are in performing arts, they may prefer clear braces. These are less likely to get caught while engaging in sports and more aesthetic for the arts. The care team can evaluate when this is a viable option.
Another benefit of having braces within this age range is that the patients are able to take care of much of the maintenance by themselves. This means if they have rubber bands to correct jaw alignment, they can change them out as directed. Another example is if they have a removable retainer or clear braces, they can clean them per instructions.

Orthodontic Treatment Options for Adults

Adults are not usually the population that people think of when they picture braces. However, it is never too late to receive orthodontic care. While adult orthodontic care isn’t often talked about, it is important.
There are many reasons why adults would need orthodontic care. It could be because they were not able to obtain this care when they were younger. It could be because they have experienced recent changes, such as a health condition. There are several health conditions that can lead to changes in oral health. An adult may also seek out orthodontic care after a traumatic event that caused oral damage.

No matter the reason, the first step will still be an orthodontic consultation. During this consultation, the patient should describe what they are wanting to address. They should also describe relevant aspects of their life.
There are a number of different types of braces available. Patients in this age range may prefer invisible braces. A large factor in this preference is that it is less common for adults to have visible braces. The orthodontist will accommodate this request if it is possible after the evaluation.

However, it may be helpful for adults receiving orthodontic care to remember that progress is good. Braces for adults are nothing to be embarrassed about. In all other aspects of life, making efforts to improve ourselves is praised. It should be no different for adult orthodontic treatment. Braces are not an indication that the wearer has done anything wrong.

Braces for adults can help improve their life and oral health. Spacing issues can make it difficult to keep areas of the mouth clean. Therefore, correcting the spacing can improve oral hygiene while reducing effort. Closing a gap can improve eating by closing a gap that food used to always get stuck in.
After adults have undergone their orthodontic processes, they will experience improved self-esteem. In fact, for many, they deal with insecurity for years before they are able to experience relief.

Choosing the Right Time for Orthodontic Treatment

Since there is no wrong time for orthodontic treatment, how can anyone decide the right time for orthodontic treatment? The answer to that is nuanced. It will vary from one patient to the next because it should be based on a number of considerations.
If there is a recurring pain in the mouth, head, or jaw. It is time to see an orthodontist. These types of pain can often be resolved through orthodontic intervention. There is no reason to wait it out and be in pain. Additionally, intervening early can often help reduce the severity of the issues. Reduced severity also often means reduced cost of intervention.

Anyone who is experiencing difficulty or pain when eating should also see an orthodontist quickly. Reduced nutrition can lead to a number of other health problems. An orthodontist can find the source of the issue and make a plan to address it. This will restore the quality of food and life that the patient experiences every single day.
Even if it doesn’t seem like a child needs braces, it is beneficial that they have an early evaluation. This can help alleviate any current issues. Moreover, it can predict future issues based on growth.

Overall, orthodontic care is a critical piece of the puzzle of caring for the whole person. Having teeth that are cared for boosts a person’s eating experience and self-esteem. There is a visible difference in the way a person smiles when they are confident in their teeth. This care can also reduce jaw and head pain, improving their energy and quality of life.

Don’t delay orthodontic care. It doesn’t have to be embarrassing or scary. Yet it can offer so many benefits. Schedule a consultation with us today so we can help you gain confidence in your smile!