‘Metal mouth’ is no longer a viable playground slur.
Clearly, they’ve become an accepted and routine part of American life.
But certain questions remain unclear, despite their widespread use. ‘What is the best age to get braces?’ is one of the most common questions dental practitioners hear.
Unfortunately, there’s no one answer. There are certain factors that’ll play a part in your decision though.
Keep on reading to learn what they are.
Why Would You Need Braces?
First, let’s consider why you might need braces in the first place.
Essentially, braces help with a variety of dental issues such as overlapping, overcrowded and crooked teeth.
Another common problem is having a ‘bad bite’. In technical terminology, this is known as malocclusion, where one jaw is bigger than the other. You either have an over-bite (upper jaw is bigger than the lower) or an under-bite (lower is bigger than the upper).
And these issues aren’t just aesthetic.
Rather, they can make cleaning far more difficult. This can lead to dental hygiene problems like tooth decay. They can also cause jaw problems.
Braces help correct these problems by applying steady pressure to the teeth over time. The pressure moves the teeth back into the correct position.
Who Fits Your Braces?
Braces are fitted by specialist dentists, known as orthodontists. It’s their job to correct your dental issues, such as those listed above.
It’s common for orthodontist treatment to be recommended by a dentist during routine check-ups. Children (or adults) will have an initial consultation where a plan for forthcoming treatment (if required) will be put in place.
Braces usually take between 1 to 2 hours to fit and may lead to some soreness for a few days thereafter.
There are different types of braces and treatment available too. Your orthodontist will be able to recommend the best for you.
What Is the Best Age to Get Braces?
As we mentioned at the start, unfortunately, there isn’t one right answer to this question.
Honestly, it depends.
It’s possible to fit braces at any age from about 7 years old. But what constitutes the best time is largely to do with the severity and cause of the dental issues.
Let’s take a look at the different ages you can get braces fitted and some of the factors to consider when making your decision.
Between 7 & 10 Years Old
Getting braces fitted at this early age is somewhat dependent on whether a child’s milk teeth have fallen out and their adult teeth are in place.
That said, a child won’t necessarily require braces at this age. But a consultation at about 7 years old can help plan for future orthodontic treatment.
The Orthodontist will be able to see evidence of forthcoming issues and decide whether treatment will be helpful in due course.
The benefit of earlier intervention is its preventative nature. You see an issue before it’s developed and therefore have a chance to rectify and guide the situation as the child develops.
A Note on Preventative Treatment
Orthodontists often wait until all primary (milk) teeth have fallen out. But some advocate treatment even if milk teeth are still present.
In a 2-phase preventative approach, the first stage involves the use of dental appliances (not necessarily braces) for guiding the milk teeth. The second stage is then to apply braces to the adult teeth as normal.
The supposed benefit of using 2-phase treatment is that the first is said to shorten the second, more traditional treatment stage.
It’s somewhat contentious though. Some dental practitioners claim this approach actually adds time, and expense too. Others claim it speeds things up.
In truth, the right treatment will depend on your individual situation and the severity of the dental issues. Speak with your orthodontist/dentist for advice!
Between 10 & 14 Years Old
Most children get braces between these ages because, physiologically, it’s prime dental treatment time!
Most (or all) of the baby teeth have fallen out and the jaw is stable enough for longer-term treatment. The head and mouth continue to grow, which makes it easier to straighten the teeth.
However, braces always lead to changes in physical appearance, so it’s important to discuss the situation with the child before committing to treatment.
Thankfully the stigma around braces has diminished (largely due to widespread usage of braces these days) in recent years. But it remains important to talk things through with your child every step of the way.
Another benefit of treatment (from a parent’s) perspective at this age is that the child should be old enough to care for the braces themselves!
Considering that the average duration of wearing them is between 1.5-2 years, this can only be positive!
Over 14 Years Old and into Adulthood
Older people can (and do) get braces too!
Just because most people get braces in their teenage years doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed if you’re slightly longer in the tooth.
In fact, a growing number of adults are seeing orthodontists to correct problems with their teeth. According to this Harvard Medical School article, 20% of all orthodontic patients are over 18.
Perhaps you didn’t have the chance to seek orthodontic treatment in younger years. Or only now do you recognize the problems with your teeth. Remember, issues can get worse as you age and treatment might still be needed.
It’s true that it’s less common for adults to wear braces and you might feel added stigma as a result.
But it’s important to think long term. Short term discomfort can prevent more serious dental issues in the future.
Time to Sum Up
Braces are increasingly common in America and can be an effective solution to dental problems at any age.
But what is the best age to get braces? Well, most people who wear braces tend to be between 10 and 14 years old. However, treatment can start from as young as 7 and there’s no upper age limit.
Simply, age aside, it is well worth considering a consultation with an orthodontist if you or a family member have issues such as overcrowding, overlapping, or crooked teeth.
Now we’d like to hear from you!
Are you or a family member considering getting braces? What are some of the things you’re most concerned about?
Let us know in the comments!
And if you want to start rocking your smile, be sure to schedule an appointment with our award-winning orthodontists today.