Is my child too young for braces? Am I too old for orthodontic treatment? When is the best time to straighten your teeth? At Yousefian Orthodontics for Children, Teens, and Adults, we hear these questions all the time. Adolescence is an ideal time for many patients to get braces, but it’s not the only age.
The “right time” for orthodontic care relies on a variety of factors. In today’s age, more adults are choosing to wear braces than ever before and they’re having stellar results. Likewise, certain children who haven’t lost their baby teeth can still benefit from phase-one early orthodontic treatments.
To learn more about the best age to get braces — and to find out how orthodontic treatment can benefit people of all ages — keep reading!
Is adolescence the ideal time for braces?
In many ways, adolescents are ideally positioned to get braces that can give them a beautiful smile for the rest of their lives. Unlike younger children, those in their early teen years have nearly all of their permanent teeth already in place and, unlike adult patients, teens’ teeth are more responsive to repositioning.
The exact age at which an adolescent should begin wearing braces depends on the extent of their treatment needs and whether or not they have their permanent teeth. In general, orthodontic treatment during the teen years is most efficient and effective when it’s begun once all the primary teeth have been lost and after the 12-year molars partially erupt. Many children begin orthodontic treatment between the ages of 12-14, but plenty of don’t get braces until they’re in their mid-teens.
When is early orthodontics the right choice?
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children see an orthodontic specialist for the first time at about age seven. Although this is years before most parents even consider braces, an orthodontist can spot fundamental bite or jaw problems that may be best addressed through phase-one early intervention orthodontic treatment.
Phase-one early orthodontic intervention covers any treatment that occurs before a child has all of their permanent teeth. Early orthodontic treatment, which usually occurs between the ages of 7-10, tackles problems that can be fixed early on so that phase-two orthodontic treatment — the full braces phase — is faster and easier.
These early interventions correct any underlying structural issues which then allow braces to straighten teeth and fix alignment more quickly and effectively. Phase-one treatment can be used to correct:
- Crowded teeth
- Protruding front teeth
- Narrow jaws
Phase-one orthodontic treatment may mean wearing a retainer or it may mean wearing partial braces for a short period of time.
Can adults get braces, too?
Sure, many adults opt for braces in pursuit of a beautiful smile, but there are many other benefits gained by having straight teeth and a properly aligned jaw. Crooked or crowded teeth are harder to clean and maintain. Wearing braces to straighten teeth and improve spacing can substantially reduce an adult’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and ultimately, tooth loss. Braces can also correct orthodontic problems that cause abnormal wear and tear on the surface of the teeth, gum tissue stress, and misaligned jaw joints.
About one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Getting braces as an adult is often a more complex and involved process than it is for younger patients, largely because adult bones are less malleable and no longer growing. Older oral tissues also tend to take longer to adjust to newly positioned teeth.
Even so, the right orthodontic treatment plan can create a beautiful smile, improve bite alignment, and make oral hygiene easier at any age.