At what age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

Since abnormal bites usually become noticeable between the ages of 6 and 12, orthodontic treatment often begins between ages 8 and 14. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce optimal results. That doesn’t mean that adults can’t have braces; healthy teeth can be orthodontically treated at any age.


Why is it important to have orthodontic treatment at a young age?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children get their first check-up with an AAO orthodontist at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7. Around that age, children have a mix of baby (primary) and permanent teeth. An examination as permanent teeth take the place of baby teeth, and as the face and jaws are growing, gives the orthodontist a wealth of information. If a problem exists, or if one is developing, your orthodontist is able to advise you on whether treatment is recommended, when it should begin, what form treatment will take, and estimate its length.


What causes crooked teeth?

Braces and orthodontic treatment are used to correct “bad bites,” or malocclusion (teeth that are crowded or crooked). In some cases your teeth may be straight, but your upper and lower jaws may not meet properly. These jaw or tooth alignment problems may be inherited or could result from injury, early or late tooth loss, or thumbsucking.


How do teeth move?

Teeth move in response to pressure being applied over a period of time using various orthodontic appliances. The most common of these appliances are braces, which are brackets attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. When this wire is adjusted or changed, pressure is applied to the teeth and thus moves them. Other appliances include headgear, elastics, positioners, and retainers. Orthodontic treatment is usually given 4 to 6 weeks apart in order to give teeth time to adjust and move according to this applied pressure.

Will it hurt?

Today’s braces are more comfortable than ever before. Newer materials apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth and usually require fewer adjustments.