young girl with braces laughing

What Age Should a Child Get Braces?

TeamOrthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry

Children who need braces should get them when notified by their dentist or orthodontist that it’s time to begin orthodontic treatment. To monitor the progression of your child’s smile, it’s recommended that they see an orthodontist by the age of seven. Although some treatments such as braces may not be indicated for several years, early treatment may indicate the need for interceptive orthodontics, to prepare young mouths for adult teeth.

What is Interceptive Orthodontics?

Interceptive orthodontics is the term used to describe oral appliances that may be recommended as part of your child’s early orthodontic care. Interceptive orthodontics typically involves treatment using an oral device to correct habits, create space for adult teeth, or expand the jaw to accommodate adult teeth.

Habit Appliances

Habit appliances are used to help dissuade children from engaging in habits harmful to their teeth or bite. Habit appliances may also be called harmful habit appliances, or habit-breaking appliances. For example, prolonged thumb sucking or finger sucking can inhibit or alter jaw development. What may seem like a harmless method of self-soothing, sucking fingers or thumbs, can lead to improper tongue positions or swallowing patterns. A habit appliance will be attached to your child’s back molars and run behind your child's teeth so that it is not visible. Implantation of habit appliances is painless, and it will take just a few days for your child to adjust to the device.

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders may be used in conjunction with a habit-breaking appliance. A palatal expander may be prescribed by your pediatric dentist or orthodontist to enlarge the size of your child’s upper jaw. Made of plastic and metal, palatal expanders are bonded to the molars. Parents will be given a special key to turn in the device to gradually expand the size of the palate. Palatal expanders will only be recommended if your child’s mouth won’t accommodate adult teeth as they come in. By expanding the size of the jaw, when your child is young, and the jaw is still very malleable, you may prevent problems with crowding or a misaligned bite.

Space Maintainers

A space maintainer may be recommended if your child loses baby teeth early. When gaps in the teeth appear, the adjacent teeth gradually begin to shift into the open space. When they shift into this space, they can block the space needed for adult teeth to properly erupt. By placing a space maintainer in the gap, you can ensure that there is plenty of room for the adult teeth to come through. Space maintainers are made of either stainless steel or plastic and may be available as a fixed or removable device, depending upon your child’s needs.

Why Does My Child Need Early Orthodontic Treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment provides many benefits that can help shorten orthodontic treatment time as your child ages. Benefits of seeing an orthodontist early include:

  • Ensuring space is available for adult teeth to come in
  • Reducing injuries from protruding teeth
  • Breaking habits that can affect swallowing, and bite
  • Reducing the need for tooth extraction

Early Orthodontic Treatment in Long Island

Your child should see an orthodontist no later than age seven. However, there are reasons that early orthodontic treatment may need to begin earlier. Contact us today to schedule an orthodontic consultation for your child at one of our four convenient locations.

Port Jefferson Office: 631-928-8585

Wading River Office: 631-929-7575

Sayville Office: 631-750-9175

Smithtown Office: 631-265-3266

Medford Office: 631-928-8585