Did you know the number of young people getting braces has more than quadrupled since the 1960s? Today, it’s estimated that 4.5 million Americans—with most of them being kids and teens—have braces.

You may first begin to think about braces for your child when you notice their permanent teeth are coming in slightly crooked. However, you probably still wonder—are braces necessary?

This is a good question and one we will try to answer here.

Getting to Know the Benefits of Braces

Regardless of if you are a parent who is concerned with the way your child’s teeth look or if you a teen wondering if you need braces, there are several benefits offered by this orthodontic treatment.

In addition to the aesthetic benefits offered by braces, there are a few other reasons to consider them. These include:

Improvements to Oral Health

Braces can be an effective way to correct issues such as a misaligned bite. This may lead to hazardous and abnormal stress on some teeth and parts of your mouth. It can cause weakened teeth, which may chip or break.

Help With Speech Problems

If teeth are leaning too far to the back or front of the mouth, or if they are out of line, they may begin to affect speech patterns. This can cause embarrassment and frustration for your child. With braces, it is possible to adjust the position of the teeth and improve their speech.

Prevent Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Crooked, crowded, or overlapping teeth can create tight spaces between them. This makes it difficult to floss and brush properly. If this happens, bacteria and plaque may build up, causing tooth decay and gum disease.

Braces will correct this problem by realigning the teeth. This allows for more effective cleaning.

Increased Self-Confidence

When a child’s teeth are beautiful and straight, it will increase their confidence and self-esteem.

Are Braces Necessary?

Now that you know what benefits braces offer, it’s time to dive into whether they are really needed.

One of the first things to understand is that the age a child needs to get braces will vary. Usually, orthodontic treatment begins when a child is between the ages of eight and 14. That’s because, by this point, most children have some or all of their permanent teeth.

There are some orthodontic issues that are inherited, such as crowding teeth, protruding upper teeth, crooked teeth, etc. Others are caused by environmental factors. These issues include:

  • Sucking thumbs or fingers
  • Breathing through their mouths
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Poor nutrition

Even if an orthodontist finds a problem, they probably won’t immediately take action and recommend orthodontic treatment. In fact, many doctors prefer to wait and see what happens.

However, at some point, braces may be unavoidable. Some signs this orthodontic treatment is needed can be found here.

Top Teeth Overlap Bottom Teeth

It’s normal to have a bit of an overbite where the top teeth overlap the bottom ones slightly. However, if you begin to notice you can’t see your child’s lower teeth when they bite down, it may be an indication of a more serious problem.

It’s best to have any significant overbite corrected. This will help to prevent the premature wear of your teeth.

Top Teeth Protrude Over Bottom Teeth

Have you noticed your child’s upper teeth are jutting out over their bottom teeth?

If so, this is referred to as an overjet. If the problem is extensive, it can result in trauma to the child’s upper front teeth. Typically, this occurs if the child falls or if they are hit with something in the face.

This can be corrected using braces and rubber bands. However, for more serious situations, your dentist may suggest extractions or surgery to properly align the child’s jaws and bite.

Bottom Teeth Overlap the Top Teeth

This is called an underbite or bulldog bite. It is treated in the same manner the overbite is treated.

The Late or Early Loss of Baby Teeth

Is your child losing their baby teeth too early or too late? If so, braces may be necessary.

If baby teeth are lost too early, it may cause the remaining teeth to move into the empty holes. This occurs while adult teeth are still growing. If baby teeth are lost too late, it may cause alignment problems.

Prolonged Thumb Sucking

A history of thumb- or finger-sucking is another sign that your child may require braces. This can cause the front teeth to protrude out and may result in crowding with the bottom teeth.

While most children no longer suck their thumb after the age of four, if they continue this behavior, it can affect their permanent teeth. In most cases, this will eventually lead to the need for braces.

Crooked Teeth

This is the most common reason children go to the orthodontist. It’s also the reason that many children require braces.

There are several reasons that teeth may grow in crooked. For example, if their permanent teeth grow around baby teeth that have not fallen out yet or if their jaw is not big enough to hold all their adult teeth.

Planning for Braces

If your child has any of the signs listed here, it may be a good idea to begin planning for braces. However, it is also a good idea to speak with your dentist or orthodontist. They can let you know for sure—are braces necessary?

If you want to have your child evaluated for braces, contact us today. We can help determine the best treatment for your child and ensure they get the beautiful, great-looking smile they deserve.