Kid’s Braces: What You Need to Know

A girl with perfectly aligned teeth holding orthodontic aligner.

One of the most commonly asked questions by parents to their child’s dentist is whether or not they will need braces. It is understandable that parents have concerns about kid’s braces and if their child will need orthodontic treatment. Here is what you need to know about children’s braces.

Braces in one form or another have been used to straighten teeth for over a century. However, braces do much more than just create a pretty smile. Orthodontics can improve the bite between the upper and lower sets of teeth and help with many oral-related disorders including:

  • Sinus problems
  • TMJ disorders
  • Bruxism
  • Speech disorders
  • Sleep apnea

Ensuring that teeth are straight and healthy can contribute to both health and appearance, which is wonderful for your child’s confidence.

Which Kids Need Braces?

While some malocclusions or teeth misalignments are quite noticeable, you may not necessarily know if your child needs braces. Some children have crooked teeth when they are young, but then the teeth straighten out as the rest of the adult teeth come in.

To determine whether or not your child will need braces at some point, they need to have their teeth examined by a dentist or orthodontist. They can evaluate the growth, alignment and other factors to determine if braces are right for your kiddo.

What Age are Children’s Braces Installed?

You may remember mostly teens having braces, but many kids get braces as adolescents. When there are severe malocclusions, an orthodontist may suggest getting braces earlier to direct healthy growth of the adult teeth. But what age is too early for kids braces?

It is recommended that all children have an orthodontic exam by the time they are seven. This allows for a comprehensive exam of the teeth and jaw to determine whether the child may need braces. The earliest that most braces for kids are installed is around age seven.

For most kids, braces are added to their teeth between the ages of 9 and 14. While you can get braces at any age after this, the teeth are easier to shift when the bones are not completely matured. Plus, everyone wants a straight smile, especially as a teenager.

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How Long Do Children’s Braces Need to Be Worn?

For most kids, braces only need to be worn for one to three years. In most cases, orthodontic treatment for kids is shorter than for adults, as their teeth can shift faster. The length of orthodontic treatment always depends on the extent of misalignment and the type of braces used.

What Are the Types of Kid’s Braces?

Clear aligners have become very popular for teens and adults, but they are not always a good choice for all patients. Many younger children that need braces will not qualify for clear aligners. Braces can fix more severe malocclusions and bite issues that clear aligners cannot.

Most conventional children’s braces are made from metal brackets and wires. The brackets are attached to the front of the teeth and the wires connect to the brackets. The wires are tightened as needed to shift the teeth into place, and rubber bands are used to fix certain bite and alignment issues.

Clear aligners may be an option for some kids, but it is important that they are mature enough to follow the necessary treatment guidelines. Aligners can be removed, but they need to stay in at least 22 hours a day to be effective. This is why many children are better off with braces that stay in place.

How Much do Kid’s Braces Cost?

The next question parents often ask after they find out their child needs braces is about cost. Dental insurance may pay from some of the cost of braces, but there is usually a substantial patient-responsible portion for orthodontic treatment.

The cost of braces for kids depends on the type of braces and length of treatment. Traditional metal braces are the least expensive, usually running between $3,000 and $6,000. Cost can be more or less depending on the severity of misalignment.

There are other options in kid’s braces. These include ceramic braces, which are more discreet. There are also lingual braces where the brackets are placed behind the teeth. These other options tend to be more expensive – clear aligners are also typically more expensive than metal braces.

Do Kids Need to Go to an Orthodontist for Braces?

Orthodontists are dentists that specialize in orthodontia, so they do have more training and education in this area than a general dentist. However, there are many dentists who offer braces for kids at their office. Whether or not an orthodontist is needed may depend on the severity of misalignment.
Little girl with teeth braces during orthodontic appointment.
It is important to have an orthodontic exam for kids by the age of seven, but that does not mean they will need braces that early. Monitoring teeth alignment is the best way to determine if your child will need braces for kids in the future.