For generations, people have worn braces on their teeth as a treatment to correct both health and cosmetic dental issues. Today, about four million people in the United States wear braces; the total doubled between the 1980s and 2000s. 

It’s estimated that 50 to 70% of children need braces, And about 20 to 30% of orthodontic patients are adults. Luckily, with the availability of teeth straightening systems like Invisalign and SPARK, adults can get the results they need with a treatment that doesn’t involve embarrassing wire braces!

Braces and their alternative treatments can benefit patients at any age. Teeth that have been straightened and aligned not only look better and boost confidence, but they also contribute to overall health. Correcting teeth can make it easier to eat, breathe, and maintain good oral hygiene. When teeth are easier to clean, your risk of gum disease and other problems drops dramatically. 

So what’s the best age to get braces? The answer depends on several variables. 

It’s Always Best To Start With an Early Evaluation

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children begin visiting the orthodontist at the age of 7. They won’t have a full set of adult teeth yet, so it’s too early for braces. But they usually have their adult molars, and thus the back bite, at this point. 

Tooth decay in the baby teeth can prevent the adult teeth from growing normally. Also, seven is an age when the doctor can detect and provide treatment for early signs of dental problems and begin treating them before they become severe. A child may especially need early, pre-braces treatment if they have protruding or crowded teeth, early loss of baby teeth, or bite problems.

Some orthodontists use this early intervention as the first part of a two-phase treatment. Phase one, early treatment, may include wearing a retainer or other appliance. The second phase, braces, comes a few years later. The early treatments help braces move the teeth into better positions more easily because some of the dental problems have already been resolved. 

Is It Better To Get Braces When Younger?

Almost anyone can benefit from braces if they have their adult teeth. But there is an age range (i.e., from about 11 to 14) when the body is most receptive to braces — i.e., when the adult teeth have newly erupted, but the bones are still growing and pliable. The jawbone is not yet fully formed, so moving teeth into new positions is easier. 

At this age, the child’s metabolism is fast, and most are old enough to be responsible for the extra brushing, flossing, and other dental care they will need to perform every day with braces.

What Age Is Best To Get Braces for Children?

The ideal age for braces depends on the child’s genetics (which determines when the adult teeth grow) and the extent of any existing dental problems. Every child grows at their own rate, but they generally get braces between 11 and 14. 

Telltale Signs That Your Child’s Teeth Need Braces

There are signs you can watch for that will hint that your child — or you — might need braces: 

  • Losing baby teeth too early or late;
  • Crowded or crooked teeth;
  • Gaps between teeth;
  • Painful biting and chewing;
  • Crossed bite; 
  • Top teeth sticking; 
  • Unaligned teeth; 
  • Jaw clicking or locking;
  • Breathing through the mouth;
  • Teeth grinding;
  • Thumb sucking;
  • Pain in the jaw;
  • Adult teeth growing crooked or not at all.

Problems may also include breathing problems, snoring, difficulty eating or speaking, and misalignments.

How About Braces for Adult Teeth?

As mentioned earlier, as many as 70% of children need braces, but that doesn’t mean they all get them. Some may not have had regular dental care, whereas, for others, braces may have been too expensive. In any case, some adults want to finally have the benefit of a healthy, attractive smile! They now have the resources to get good dental care and braces, such as through an employer’s dental plan.  

Alternatives to traditional braces, such as the Invisalign and SPARK systems, appeal to adults. It’s harder to be taken seriously at work, for example, when you’re 40 years old and have metal wires and brackets across your teeth.

While adults can get fantastic results with whatever form of braces they use, it will take longer than the time required for adolescents’ teeth. Most adults do not have the metabolism of a 12-year-old. In addition, the jawbone has stopped growing, so it is less pliable while teeth are shifting position. They may also need additional treatment if they deal with an additional condition, such as bone loss. But adults are also more mature and can easily carry out the required extra care for their teeth and orthodontic treatment.

Start Your Orthodontic Treatment Today at Loudoun Orthodontics!

Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think that orthodontic treatment may be a solution to your child’s dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment or simply have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a free orthodontic consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Lansdowne, or Sterling, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!

Loudoun Orthodontics