Braces for Children and Teens


Braces for Children

While there is no exact age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends visiting the orthodontist around age seven.

By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for the orthodontist to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems sooner and without surgery.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 12 or older if necessary).

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation and treatment?

Early treatment may prevent or intercept more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, Dr. Ellender will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing. During an early orthodontic evaluation Dr. Ellender may find a problem that needs to be corrected with early treatment, but in the case that orthodontic intervention is not necessary, Dr. Ellender can carefully monitor growth and development and begin treatment when it is ideal (usually around ages 9 - 14).

Early treatment allows Dr. Ellender to:
  • Correct and guide the growth of your child's jaw to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • Regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • Create more space for crowded teeth
  • Avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • Correct thumb sucking and help improve minor speech problems
Not sure if your child needs orthodontic treatment?

Here are a few things to look for that may mean your child needs to see Dr. Ellender:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • A hard time chewing or biting food
  • Mouth breathing
  • Finger or thumb sucking
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
  • Teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • Crowded front teeth around age seven or eight

Most children lose all their baby teeth by age 13, and by the end of their teen years, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Orthodontic procedures for adults often take more time and can involve tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can help prevent the need for orthodontics as an adult, leaving little to no chance of extraction or surgery in the future.

The importance of an attractive smile should not be underestimated. A pleasing appearance is a vital asset to one's self-confidence, and a child's self-esteem often improves as treatment brings teeth, lips and face into harmony. In this way, early orthodontic treatment gives the child a sense of control because it provides an opportunity to participate in the improvement of his/her appearance.

If your child is between the ages of seven and eight and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice to schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with a complimentary consultation, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.

Braces for Teens

Patients in the teen age group of around 9-16 are excellent candidates for correcting most dental problems, since they are undergoing pubescent growth. Since the permanent teeth are now present, the orthodontist has control over the development of the final spacing and alignment of the teeth.

Untreated "bad bites" may contribute to conditions that worsen with age. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain which may contribute not only to tooth decay but eventual gum disease and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, excessive stress on the supporting bone and gum tissue, or misalignment of the jaw joints with resulting chronic headaches or pains in the face and neck.

Encouraging good dental health habits and providing professional dental care at an early age produce benefits that will last your teen a lifetime.