Does my kid really need braces?

Most orthodontists recommend treatment if:

Severe Crowding-  If teeth are so crowded that chewing can be affected.  In more severe cases, recession of gums and impaction of erupting permanent teeth may happen.

Crossbite/Underbite- This is where the upper and lower teeth have jumped the fence and make contact with each other in a reverse orientation. This condition cause accelerated wear on enamel.

Overbite- This is where the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too far, often secondary to a smaller lower jaw that is positioned too far back.

Timing of orthodontics

Interceptive (Phase I) orthodontic treatment is often performed at a younger age to correct issues with improper tooth alignment or skeletal malformations, such as an overbite or crossbite. Children’s bone is still soft and modification is more effective for the long-term when done at a younger age, usually between the ages of 7-10. These kids will typically need a second phase of braces around age 12.

Comprehensive orthodontic treatment is where the child is treated in a single phase, typically at age 12 or so. This corresponds to when nearly all the baby teeth have been replaced with permanent teeth.

Summer is the perfect time to start your orthodontic treatment. School is out, making it easier to get to appointments and giving more time for the patient to learn how to properly care for their new braces, before school restarts.


What type of braces are best?

There are many options available today. You can choose between clear brackets (Clarity), clear plastic (Invisalign-type), and standard (metal) brackets. But, many times, if a young child needs early orthodontic treatment, most of the objectives can be achieved with simple and cost effective devices such as expanders and space maintainers. Your orthodontist will help you choose the right system for your child’s specific needs.

Clarity brackets offer the esthetics many people want with the same abilities of metal brackets. These ceramic brackets are made to blend with the natural color of your child’s teeth. Read more here.

Clear plastic retainers such as invisalign tend to be an attractive option for adults. Teens and younger children tend to lose them and may not be good candidates due to limitations of clear plastic aligners.

Metal braces are the most common option for most because they are most cost effective and tend to be lower profile that Clarity brackets. The smaller size of the brackets causes less irritation to the tongue, cheeks, and lips.

Common benefits of orthodontics

Having “straight” teeth also makes it easier to keep your pearly whites clean and reduces the likelihood of periodontal (gum) disease, decay, and TMJ (jaw joint) issues. Teeth fit together like pieces of a puzzle. When your teeth don’t fit together well, you can have some teeth taking more force than others causing uneven wearing down or fracturing of the teeth. Accurate brushing and flossing is also much easier when teeth are aligned properly.

As always, good home care and compliance with orthodontic instructions will keep your treatment on schedule and your teeth healthy.

J. Shahangian


Dr. J is a board certified pediatric dentisty and owner of Scripps Pediatric Dentistry & Brush n Brace located in San Diego, CA. He is not only a Diplomat with the board but now also has Fellow status with the AAPD. He is proud father of 3 beautiful girls, a San Diego native, loves soccer and is passionate about pediatric oral health. His mission is battling the number 1 disease that he has seen take over our beloved children. Dr. J's corner provides answers and solutions to parents questions & concerns regarding their children's oral health.

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