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What is the correct age for a child to get braces? Written By: Dr. Ankita Shah, March 2022

Tongue Tie

Are you concerned about the way your child’s teeth are growing? Have you noticed their teeth crowding or the gaps between their teeth? Have you heard about early braces for children? Teeth alignment along with braces for kids can help prevent these teeth concerns and build up their self-confidence.

At times, we tend to blame genetics for crooked teeth, but that isn’t always the case. Various habits like thumb sucking, bottle feeding, pacifier sucking, lip biting, mouth breathing, improper swallowing, teeth grinding & clenching and improper swallowing patterns could also lead to incorrect jaw development and crooked teeth.

Here, early detection and treatment of dental problems are of utmost importance, as at a younger age, children have more malleable bones, which makes it easy to correct the jaw size and the direction of the jaw growth. The best part, early intervention will prevent the need for braces in future. Not only this but it will also help prevent serious health issues such as mouth breathing, habitual snoring, ADD or ADHD, allergies, frequent tonsils & adenoids headaches, cold & cough, delayed growth and development and restless sleep.

1] Signs that Indicate a Child Requires Braces

Kids may require braces for the following reasons:

Crooked teeth

Forwardly-placed teeth

Overlapping or overcrowded teeth

Habitual Mouth Breathing

Age-related Degeneration

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Malocclusions and Improper Bite

Chronic Stress and Anxiety

Tongue Ties

Improper Chewing or Swallowing Patterns

Narrow Airways

Postural and Structural Issues

SIGNS-THAT-INDICATE-A-CHILD-REQUIRES-BRACES

2] What is the Right Age for Kids to Wear Braces?

It is important to note that age doesn’t entirely dictate when a child should get braces. The best age for assessing children’s developing teeth and jaws is as early as 5 years because by 10-14 years they have a fully developed jawbone, which can be difficult to modify. At this age, braces for teeth alignment can mask the actual problem of jaw discrepancy instead of correcting it. Thus, while teeth alignment is important, correcting jaw growth is equally important.

Most orthodontists suggest that the best age to get braces is when your child is between 10 to 14 years of age. At this age, your child will already have his/her permanent teeth, which is better for braces.

But will that age be appropriate for correcting jaw growth? It is a question to think..

However, while braces are the primary option for teeth alignment, they are not enough to correct jaw posture & growth and harmful habits like thumb sucking, lip biting, etc. Here, myofunctional therapy and airway orthodontics can be very advantageous in enhancing your child’s oral health and overall well-being.

Airway orthodontics can help treat habitual mouth breathing, which can have a detrimental effect on your child’s jaw, teeth and facial development. Also, look out for tongue ties. During the consultation, the paediatric dentist will ask you questions about snoring issues in your child, hyperactivity, nasal congestion, swallowing problems and ear infections.

3] Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatments

Choosing airway orthodontic treatment can be highly beneficial for children as it includes much more than simple teeth straightening.

Early orthodontic treatment is a great way to identify issues with your child’s developing mouth and treat them before they turn into growth and development and lifelong problems. In airway orthodontics, before suggesting treatments, various factors are taken into consideration such as their breathing, sleeping and eating patterns, growth and development, body posture, child’s growing age and their specific dental malocclusion.

By understanding the type of malocclusion, an airway focused paediatric dentist will use appropriate orthodontic appliances to not only straighten teeth, but also to achieve the correct growth of jaws to determine the right bite & maintain health jaw joints(TMJ), which influences body posture and airways.

Early Identification

An airway focused paediatric dentist will be the first to notice if there are any critical problems in the development of the child’s jaw and mouth. At times, identifying these problems early will save the child from potential painful treatments in the future and other health problems. If the child doesn’t require treatment, the paediatric dentist will simply track their development to ensure their teeth and jaw align.

Corrects Harmful Oral Habits

Oral habits like thumb sucking are a natural reflex for some kids from birth till age five. It is even common for some children to continue this habit till they’re six. However, even if the habit continues past age one or two, the damage to their teeth is already done. As mentioned above, other harmful oral habits such as bottle feeding, lip & pacifier sucking, lip sucking, clenching and grinding of teeth, snoring and mouth breathing can also lead to development of crooked teeth in growing children.

Here, an airway focused paediatric dentist may suggest Myofunctional Therapy and use of some prefabricated appliances like Myobrace or Myomunchee or some jaw growth appliances including some habit breaker appliances to correct these habits.

Lowers Risk of Tooth Decay

Straight teeth makes it easier for children to clean their mouths and floss thoroughly. However, the story is different with crooked teeth. Children with crooked teeth are more likely to get tooth decay as it is harder to brush and floss. This leads to poor oral hygiene.

Crooked teeth pose a serious health risk to children, which is why it is critical to visit an airway focused paediatric dentist before the age of five. Preventive dentistry and getting to know the right age for braces for your kids is the best way to ensure their oral health is right on track.

Reduces Teeth Grinding

If your child experiences frequent headaches or neck pain, it could be due to teeth grinding. Teeth grinding is mostly caused by an unaligned jaw or airway obstruction and could lead to chipped enamel or a sore jaw, tooth sensitivity, wear of the teeth, mouth dryness, stiff neck, muscular pain and tension headaches. To correct this habit, you need to consult with an airway focused paediatric dentist, who may suggest jaw growth modifying appliances along with braces to fix the underlying bite problems that result in bruxism (teeth grinding).

Improves Speech

Often when a child has speech difficulty, you don’t link it to their teeth. However, if your child’s teeth or jaw are not aligned, it could be the main cause of speech issues. Slurring, lisping and mispronouncing the letter ‘T’ and ‘S’ are some of the most common impairments. Here, correcting the alignment of the jaw and teeth while they are developing is the best way to ensure this problem won’t follow them throughout life.

Improves Digestion

Having an aligned jaw and straight teeth allows the child to chew their food easily. It helps with their overall development to break food down into smaller pieces for digestion. If your child’s teeth and jaw are not aligned, the orthodontist will suggest braces to optimise their placement. This will help improve digestion and other vital developmental factors.

#Airway Centred Orthodontics for Children

Airway orthodontics focuses on functions like breathing, sleeping, swallowing and protects the health of the TMJ (The Jaw Joint). The roof of the mouth is the same as the floor of the nose. An airway orthodontic approach is necessary for the growth and development of the nasal airway and passages. It is a unique approach to treating children to ensure the airway remains clear, improving the child's smile and ability to breathe.

Reasons for orthodontic treatment can vary. For instance, it isn't ordinary for any child at any age to snore. Snoring and open mouth breathing is dangerous to a child's physical growth, social development, and cognitive function. When the jaw growth and airway formation are not optimal, it could lead to health issues such as:

Altered social development and phonological skills

Restless sleep i.e. tossing and turning in bed

ADD or ADHD

TMD or dysfunction of the TMJ

Headaches

Neck and shoulder pain

Postural disturbances

Mouth breathing, Habitual snoring or sleep apnea

Frequent tonsils and adenoids, delayed growth, etc.

The traditional way mostly focused on techniques that help straighten teeth. However, the unique airway-focused approach not only helps straighten teeth but also helps treat other health issues. It focuses on the structural and/or postural correction: the size of the jaw, and the direction of jaw growth, which is unachievable after 11yrs of age.

FAQs

There are different kinds of braces available, including:

Metal, Ceramic & Damon Braces

Crozat, Maxillary Skeletal Expander, Hyrax, Orthotropics (Mewing)

Lingual Orthodontics

Invisible Braces like Invisalign, Flash, I Aligners

Myobrace, Myomunchee.

While there are no instances of children being allergic to braces, it is important to inform the dentist if your child is allergic to any metal-based material. This will help the dentist make well-informed decisions, when it comes to suggesting appropriate treatments.

The most common injuries from braces in kids are sometimes ulcers to the lips or inner cheeks. This usually happens when the child is newly adapting to braces or in engaging in sports and has hurt himself/herself. To prevent this, the dentist will give you some wax to avoid any ulcers and if your child plays sports or engages in physical activity, getting an orthodontic mouthguard can help. It is designed to fit comfortably over your child's braces to protect both the teeth and braces in the case of an accident.

It is important to treat teeth and jaw as early as possible, preferably by the age of 5 years. This will ensure proper jaw growth and development, thereby ensuring your child’s airway is healthy. Treating the jaw and teeth straight at 12 years will make it much harder as by then the child’s jawbone has been fully developed, which makes any modifications difficult. Also, as mentioned earlier, using braces at this stage will only mask and not correct the actual problem of jaw misalignment.

Forwardontics focuses on the forward development of teeth and jaws, which helps prevent malocclusion, improves chewing patterns, enhances the body posture and protects the health of the TMJ. By guiding jaw growth and development right from an early age, a paediatric dentist specialising in Forwardontics can help ensure there is no discrepancy between the upper and lower jaws. This helps improve jaw alignment providing long-term stability, and makes the jaw wider, which helps enhance the airways.