July 28, 2022
Orthodontic braces can be personalized for all stages of life. No matter how young or old, everyone can benefit from having straight teeth and a beautiful smile. But what’s the best time to get braces?
While there is no universal answer to this question, there are several factors to consider before beginning orthodontic treatment. If you’re considering braces for yourself or your child, here’s what you should know about getting braces at different stages of life.
In general, braces are most effective (and efficient) when the patient has lost nearly all their baby teeth, just before their second molars have erupted. This stage typically occurs somewhere between 10 and 14 years of age.
Patients in this age group usually have most of their permanent teeth, and they still have a soft jawbone that can be easily repositioned.
While many children get braces between the ages of 10 and 14, it’s best for them to visit an orthodontist well before this “ideal” age. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first check-up by age 7.
By 7 years of age, children typically have a mix of baby and permanent teeth, and an orthodontist can identify spacing and alignment problems in their early stages. Recognizing these problems early sets the patient up for easier and faster treatment later on.
“Phase-one” early intervention treatment allows the orthodontist to address spacing and alignment issues when they are still “easy” to fix. Orthodontists may use a number of devices during early intervention, including:
By the time your child is ready to begin “phase-two” treatment and wear a full set of braces, their treatment will be faster, saving you time and money.
Most orthodontic patients begin wearing braces between the ages of 14 and 20. This is typically the age range in which all of the permanent teeth have come into the jaw. The bones and tissues are still soft and maturing, so realigning the teeth and bite is relatively quick and easy.
Compared to children, teens and younger adults are usually more tolerant of the occasional discomfort that comes with orthodontic braces. They understand making small changes can lead to big results, which means they're more likely to embrace the incremental tightening of braces.
Teens and younger adults are also more likely to have established a set of habits to take care of their teeth. They typically do a better job at maintaining their braces and keeping them clean, reducing the risk of tooth discoloration.
However, teens and younger adults may be less enthusiastic about altering their appearance with visible braces. Luckily, most orthodontists offer several different types of braces that have a more discreet appearance, such as clear ceramic braces or Invisalign.
Contrary to what some may think, nobody is “too old” for braces. While braces may be slightly easier and faster during the teenage years, more adults are learning that they can benefit from orthodontic treatment too. According to the AAO, adults account for 1 out of 5 orthodontic patients.
In addition to their poor aesthetics, crooked teeth or a misaligned bite can be harmful to your oral health. Teeth continue to shift throughout life, and orthodontic problems almost always become worse as time goes on. That’s why adults should visit an orthodontist to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Adults with braces do have some higher risks than children or teenagers, such as blood flow being restricted, gingivitis, and minor bone loss. However, these issues are easy for an orthodontist to identify and correct.
Adult orthodontics includes more than just braces. With the help of an orthodontist, adults of all ages can seek in-depth care to address overbites, underbites, cross-bites, and even protruding teeth. Treatment usually takes 1 to 3 years, and adult patients have a variety of different options. One of the most popular devices among adults is Invisalign clear aligners, which help adults maintain a professional appearance at work.
While you or your child may be past the ideal age range for orthodontic treatment, braces are a viable option for patients of any age.
It is never too late to schedule an appointment with your orthodontist. If you’re interested in getting braces for yourself, your child, or someone else, there’s no time like the present to begin the journey to a healthy and beautiful smile.
Let’s Smile Dental has the top orthodontists in Northern Virginia. We offer many different types of braces, including clear braces, self-ligating braces, Invisalign clear aligners, and much more. Whether you’re ready to move forward or if you just have questions, contact us today to schedule your free consultation and receive a custom treatment plan!