Except in extreme cases, there’s no need to start orthodontic treatment as early as age 7.
Used to be that kids wore braces when they were teenagers (“Metal mouth!”) often getting them off in time for senior portraits. But that’s a thing of the past. Kids are getting into braces at younger and younger ages today, often wearing them in phases and getting them completely off by the time high school starts. But is getting into braces at a very early age necessary or just over-zealous parenting?
Today, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children see an orthodontist by age 7 at the latest in order to check for crowded, spaced, or crooked teeth and misaligned jaws and bite. Only kids with these issues will require treatment as early as third grade.
Early intervention is necessary when:
• A child has an underbite: When the jaw sticks out putting the lower teeth in front of the upper, causing chewing issues and even speech problems. This happens to 5 percent of kids.
• A child with an overbite (buck teeth). Early treatment for this problem with braces or a palatal expander may improve a child’s appearance and bolster his self-esteem. This occurs to 25 percent of kids.
But except for extreme cases (where teeth are at risk of being knocked out or chipped), there are few benefits to starting orthodontics early.