Were you caught off guard the last time you spotted an elementary student in braces?
When did orthodontists start seeing children so young?
Most of us grew up in the days where getting braces was a rite of passage during high school, along with finally getting our driver’s license. But now, it seems like children as young as seven or eight are sporting brackets and bright rubber bands on their teeth. Is this really necessary, much less beneficial?
Here’s what you need to know, when it comes to what age your child can get braces:
Experts Recommended Orthodontic Evaluations by Age 7
There’s a reason why the American Association of Orthodontists recommend that every child receive his or her first orthodontic evaluation by age 7, and it’s not just because they want to target concerned parents. This young age is a key developmental stage where baby teeth are starting to be exfoliated (fall out) and permanent adult teeth are erupting.
You see, the baby teeth act as placeholders for the permanent ones, guiding them into just the right place. At age 7, dentists and orthodontists have a good idea as to what the adult teeth are going to do next.
Addressing early orthodontic concerns during this phase of oral development can allow your orthodontist to make adjustments or use growth modification aids that enhance your child’s bite in a minimally-invasive manner. The earlier the treatment, the less complex their orthodontic needs will be later on. It could even prevent the need for surgeries.
“But I Was Told That My Child Needs All Her Adult Teeth, First.”
In some situations, yes, a child needs to have all his or her permanent teeth before getting braces. But in certain circumstances, corrective orthodontics can be used while there are still primary (baby) teeth in place. An example might include baby teeth that are very crowded, causing adult teeth to get “stuck” underneath and become impacted. As such, your provider can create adequate spacing for the adult teeth to erupt in a better location than they would if the teeth had been left alone.
Early Interceptive Treatment (“Phase 1”)
For kids getting braces at a young age, the treatment is usually broken up into two stages: Phase 1, or “early intervention, and then Phase 2, once all of the adult teeth have erupted.
Phase 1 treatment adjusts the jaw growth and spacing between teeth, allowing developing adult teeth to erupt in an appropriate manner. Your child may need this early interception if they have concerns such as:
- Inheriting a smaller or larger than normal jaw, from one of the parents
- Premature tooth loss, jeopardizing space for adult teeth to erupt
- Developmental complications caused by habits such as thumb sucking or pacifier use
- Speech irregularities
- Severe crowding of the baby teeth
Phase 2 is to fine tune the tooth alignment at a later age (usually as a teen) after all of the permanent teeth have come in. If teeth are slightly rotated, do not meet together properly, or have spacing irregularities, orthodontic therapy can help to prevent problems like TMJ disorder, cavities, and abnormal wear.
If your child underwent Phase 1 treatment prior, then Phase 2 can usually be completed far more quickly.
Benefits of Braces at a Younger Age
Your child grows by leaps and bounds each year. As their mouth is still developing, it is easier to correct concerns related to tooth placement or jaw formation while it is still growing. If you wait until the bones have matured and the teeth are completely formed, it can take longer, more complex treatment to correct (sometimes even surgery.)
Seeing an orthodontist at a young age can allow your child to enjoy a healthier smile as they enter adolescence and adulthood. While it may seem like you’re having your son or daughter in braces “longer” because it’s broken up into two phases of therapy, it actually saves everyone time and unnecessary discomfort caused by serious bite alignment issues later on.
Are Orthodontics Covered by My Insurance?
Depending on the type of dental insurance that you carry, your plan may cover braces for kids. In most cases, you will be responsible for a sizable portion of the fees. Fortunately, orthodontists typically offer affordable month-to-month payment plans for parents to finance whatever isn’t covered by their insurance.
Discount dental plans typically also provide savings on orthodontic treatment, and can make braces far more affordable if you don’t have dental insurance. Even if you do have insurance, you may want to join a discount dental plan for additional savings, once you have hit your insurance’s orthodontics annual limit. Often insurance plans limit coverage to $1000-1,500. With the average cost of braces being $5000 and up, you’re likely to be able to put a discount dental plan to good use.
Contact AetnaDentalOffers.com today to learn more about dental discount plans that cover braces for kids and even adults.
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