Why Braces For Young Children May Not Be The Best Idea

dental braces for children

Photo by Vicki C / CC BY

Traditionally a parent is advised to get an orthodontic evaluation for their child at around the age of seven years. Treating dental issues with braces usually starts at the age of eight, depending upon how severe the dental issues are. If a person were to visit a school they would see braces on teeth of children at every age.

Parents today are much more concerned about the way their child’s teeth look at a younger age than in years past. More and more children are wearing braces on their baby teeth, which provide no long term benefits. In fact a family could spend twice as much money, and the treatment will last twice as long when placing braces on baby teeth. Many times a parent will find that when the child loses their baby teeth and the permanent teeth grow in, the braces are still needed to now fix the permanent teeth.

If a young child has teeth that are crooked, or an overbite waiting until the baby teeth fall out and the permanent to emerge is preferable. Straightening the crooked teeth of a very young child is no guarantee that their permanent teeth will maintain that straightness. The situations where applying braces to a very young child is appropriate are those such as a cross bite, which is a situation where the tooth or teeth are closer to the tongue or cheek than the corresponding upper or lower teeth. A cross bite left untreated can cause loss of teeth, receding gums, and possibly Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction or TMJ.

If a dentist is recommending that a very young child have braces applied a parent should do their research into the child’s dental problem and also obtain a second opinion. In some cases braces can actually damage teeth by damaging the enamel of a tooth, causing discoloration, and possible root damage which could lead to tooth loss. If a young child has braces much care must be taken to ensure the child’s teeth are thoroughly cleaned after every meal. The same applies to adults with braces, but adults can usually maintain their own dental hygiene while a child almost always needs assistance.

Having a beautiful smile is important to most people, but not usually important to very small children. Braces can cause discomfort and pain, and in some cases it is best to leave the child’s teeth as they are until the permanent teeth fully emerge.