boy smiles and points at his braces

When to Start Orthodontic Treatment

Posted On: July 31, 2023

When to Start Orthodontic Treatment

Let’s get one thing straight (like your future teeth) ­braces can be worn at any age. However, there is an optimal window we suggest to parents of younger children. If you’re pondering when to start orthodontic treatment, you’re not alone. In this blog post, we will discuss the factors that determine the appropriate timing for orthodontics, empowering you to make informed decisions about your family’s dental health.

Am I Too Old for Braces?

Good news – nope, you are certainly never too old to improve your dazzling smile! No matter your age, the team at Freytag Orthodontics has a wide range of orthodontic services to enhance your teeth, jaw alignment, and overall wellness.

More happy news, you’re in good company. The number of adults wearing braces and Invisalign has been on the rise in recent years. According to a study by the AAO, 27 percent of U.S. and Canadian orthodontic patients are adults, a statistic that has skyrocketed since the mid-nineties. This is likely due to advancements in orthodontics, as modern treatments are less noticeable and more comfortable than appliances of yesteryear.

How Is Adult Treatment Different?

According to the AAO, “it’s the same physiological process that moves teeth through bone. Teeth move in response to forces being placed on them over time. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected as easily for adults as for children/teens. Adults have denser bone tissue than children, so treatment may take a little longer, but age does not keep teeth from moving.”

When Should Kids Visit an Orthodontist

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children visit an orthodontic specialist either at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem or by age 7. This is well before the typical starting age for braces, and for a good reason: early intervention.

Signs Your Child May Need Orthodontic Care

The following is the AAO’s guide to early warning signs to help parents determine if a child may need orthodontic care:

  • Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth

Although there are ranges of normal variation, losing baby teeth too early or too late can create problems with the permanent ones that should replace them.

  • Difficulty Chewing

Eating should not hurt. Although there is discomfort associated with “teething,” painful chewing may indicate there are orthodontic problems that should be addressed.

  • Jaws Shifting or Clicking

Shifting of the lower jaw due to a bite problem can lead to jaw pain and other dental consequences.

  • Cheek Biting

In a normal bite, the outer cusps of the upper teeth hold the cheeks away from the lower chewing surfaces. If your child is constantly biting their cheeks, they may have a crossbite or other condition that is preventing normal chewing.

  • Mouth Breathing

Although orthodontists cannot correct mouth breathing, there are orthodontic problems that can develop as a result of this pattern of breathing which can be addressed and corrected by an orthodontist.

  • Facial Imbalance

The appearance of the lips, chin, and other facial features are affected by the underlying teeth and jaws.

If your child displays any of the above warning signs, it may be time to schedule their first orthodontic appointment, even if they’re younger than age 7. At Freytag Orthodontics, your initial exam is free! Schedule a visit in Oro Valley or Marana, Arizona.

What’s the Ideal Age to Begin Braces?

The best time to consider braces for orthodontic treatment is during early adolescence, typically between the ages of 10 and 14. At this stage, preteens and younger teens have most, if not all, of their permanent teeth, and their jawbone tissue is still pliable and responsive to adjustments.

Factors to Consider

Determining the precise age for braces depends on two key factors: the extent of the treatment required and the eruption of permanent teeth.

For the most effective and efficient outcomes, it is generally recommended to apply braces after the child has shed all their primary teeth but before their second molars have fully emerged. This phase of dental development typically falls within the age range of 11 to 13 years.

It is important to note that in many situations, it’s best for kids to wait until their mid-to-late teenage years instead. It just depends on your child’s molars and overall orthodontic needs. As such, the decision of when to start orthodontic treatment depends on the specific dental needs of each individual.

What About Phase 1 Treatment?

Phase 1 orthodontic treatments are problem-focused, generally addressing one key issue at a time. Timewise, these treatments range from six to 18 months, with the average treatment time being about 12 months. Depending on the situation, this could mean braces, a palate expander, or a space maintainer, to name a few.

Many orthodontists begin a phase 1 treatment at age 7. At Freytag, we do our best to only make our patients be in treatment once! We find that we can fix almost all of the problems and have the same end result by simply waiting until all the baby teeth are out and permanent teeth are in. Phase 1 braces are very popular nowadays, but not always necessary and at Freytag we try to be as conservative as possible. Not only does this save the family missed time from school and work, but ultimately it saves them money as well.

Schedule Your FREE Initial Exam

Whether you’re looking for an orthodontist near northern Tucson for yourself or your child, remember that every case is unique. It is crucial to consult with an experienced orthodontist who can assess your oral health to determine the most appropriate time to initiate braces and achieve optimal results.

At Freytag Orthodontics, your initial exam is free. Even better yet, we have two convenient locations: Oro Valley and Marana, Arizona. We offer traditional braces and Invisalign for both teens and adults – we’ll get you the perfect smile at any age! Schedule an in-office orthodontic visit or call 520.365.6703 to schedule a Video Exam.