How to Know If You or Your Child Really Needs Braces
Adult braces are becoming increasingly common in later age. Studies have shown that less than 40% of adults have properly aligned teeth. It may surprise you to know that the first device invented for straightening teeth goes all the way back to 1728. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the term orthodontia was first used. In the 21st century almost everyone in North America has had braces either as a child or an adult. Knowing when braces are the right solution for you or your child is a very important step in your oral health journey.
When to Consider Braces
It is a good idea to start your child on regular orthodontic evaluations around the age 7. At this point, the child has lost most of their baby teeth and the majority of their adult teeth grow in around ages 8-14. If treatment is needed, it is best to catch it early on to take advantage of your child’s growth.
If you are an adult who has never had braces as a child, or maybe needs their teeth realigned, it is recommended to consult with a specialized orthodontist to determine the best course of action for your teeth.
Common Signs your Child Needs Braces
Your regular dentist is an excellent resource for monitoring your child’s teeth to catch the early signs of needing corrective treatments. Some common signs that your child may need braces include:
- Early, late, or irregular loss of baby teeth
- Thumb sucking or prolonged pacifier use
- Crowding or misplaced teeth
- Biting the cheek
- Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion with their face
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Jaws that shift
If any of these signs, or other signs occur that may be cause for concern, it is not necessary to wait until the child is age 7 to visit the orthodontist. While most children receive braces over the age of 8, your orthodontist can start preventive treatment to protect against further damage.
Braces in Adulthood
Dentist and orthodontist typically recommend braces to improve the orofacial appearance. As an adult, if you suffer from crooked teeth, overcrowding, overbite or underbite, or a misplaced jaw, braces may be the best solution to fix these issues. Today, over one in five orthodontic patients are adults. The American Academy of Opthalmology estimates that in the US and Canada, over 1 million adults are being treated with braces.
While it may not be ideal to have braces as an adult, it is important to remember a few things.
- Braces are only temporary. Once the treatment is complete, if properly maintained the results will last a lifetime.
- Once your are fitted with braces, you can continue to live a normal life. Adults with braces can sing, kiss, eat normally, play an instrument, and much more with braces.
- Braces in adulthood are becoming more common. Modern braces are nearly invisible to appeal to professional adults.
The importance of braces goes far beyond just the aesthetics. Gum health and overall oral health can be easier maintained with straight teeth. It is easier to floss and care for teeth that are properly aligned. Ask your dentist if you or your child could benefit from being evaluated by an orthodontist.