When is the Best Time to Get Braces?

woman smiling with showing her braces

As kids approach their adolescent and teen years, many of them wonder when—or if—they’ll need dental braces. While the average age range for getting braces is anywhere from age 9 to 19, there is no one-size-fits all approach to timing or treatment plans. However, it may be helpful to know the factors that an orthodontist uses to determine the right time for braces.

Status of baby teeth and permanent teeth

Unless early intervention is required to correct severe oral problems, comprehensive treatment begins once the patient has a full set of permanent teeth and while the head and mouth are still growing. This is often around age 12 or 13, which is why many children have braces during their middle school years.

But not every child develops at the same rate, and not every orthodontic issue will require the same treatment, so the orthodontist may recommend starting a little earlier or waiting until the later teens.

If your child’s permanent teeth are starting to come in especially crooked or other oral problems are apparent, you can seek out an orthodontic evaluation to determine whether early intervention treatment is needed.

Early intervention

Early intervention treatment involves making more space for developing teeth and correcting severe oral problems before traditional orthodontic treatment can begin. Treatment may include removing permanent teeth that have already grown in, or even those that have not yet emerged from the jaw. Other treatments can involve utilizing dental hardware such as partial braces or expanders, which make room for emerging teeth.

Severe oral problems

Children as young as 7 can be evaluated for early treatment to address severe oral problems such as:

  • Overbites—the upper teeth protrude past the lower teeth
  • Underbites—the lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth
  • Crossbites—the upper and lower jaw don’t line up
  • Open bites—the upper and lower teeth fail to meet
  • Excessive overcrowding—there is not enough room in the jaw to accommodate all permanent teeth

Pediatric dentists can often spot problems early, and they’ll refer the patient to an orthodontist to plan out a comprehensive teeth-straightening treatment.

Braces for all ages

Age 9 to 19 might be the average age of new orthodontic patients, but many adults who didn’t have braces at a younger age are turning to orthodontics to revitalize their smile. Today, there are more options than ever before for adults who want straighter teeth without resembling a high school yearbook photo.

Traditional braces include brackets that are attached to the front of the teeth and connected with wire and sometimes rubber bands. In the past, brackets were exclusively made of metal, but clear or white ceramic brackets are less noticeable and increasingly popular.

Other types of braces include lingual braces, which are placed behind the teeth, and plastic aligner trays that can be removed for meals and brushing/flossing, but must be worn for at least 22 hours a day to work properly.

Everyone deserves a brighter, straighter smile

Whether you have a child approaching adolescence or you have teeth alignment issues of your own that you’re ready to fix, San Diego Dental Specialty can help. We offer a wide range of orthodontic treatments for patients of all ages, so call us today at (619) 263-6683 for a consultation.