How young is TOO young for braces?

How young is TOO young for braces? An orthodontist spills the beans on whether you're getting scammed or not! from FunCheapOrFree.com

Last year we were visiting family, and I noticed my 8 year old niece had braces on. Braces. On her face. At EIGHT YEARS OLD! Call me crazy, but that seemed ridiculously young to me! My goodness, don't we still have baby teeth at 8??

We all know I'm a current brace-face. I have had Invisalign since the Spring. At my latest appointment I was discussing this with Dr. Parker, my ortho (and seriously the coolest guy ever) and asked him point-blank if orthodontists were scamming us all by leading us to believe our 8 YEAR OLDS needed braces. Our conversation was so fascinating, I asked him if I could do a post on it!

So here is a 110% honest-to-goodness, unsolicited opinion from an orthodontist (whom I trust whole-heartedly) who has been in “the biz” for decades on the issue of…

How young is TOO young for braces?

PS I did not get paid for writing this post or for telling you about Dr. Parker! I just thought it could be potentially very helpful to someone out there.

Here are the questions I asked Dr. Parker:

1) At what age should parents start considering orthodontic work for their children?

Parents should bring their children in for an orthodontic screening by 8yrs old. This is to screen for difficult orthodontic problems that can be corrected BEFORE braces and which can simplify future orthodontic treatment times, cost, and procedures (such as extractions of permanent teeth or even surgery in some limited cases). This “Phase 1” treatment is not indicated for simple orthodontic issues but is indicated for obvious problems such as excessive lack of space for the erupted or un-erupted teeth, significant over-jet (buck teeth), underbite, crossbites or to modify a childs growth for his or her benifit. While some parents may want to straighten teeth at a young age, the purpose of Phase 1 treatment is to address foundational concerns of jaw alignment and creating space for permanent teeth to come into the arch. After these foundational concerns are met the child should be ready for a fairly straight forward “Phase 2” or comprehensive orthodontic treatment (i.e braces).

2) Is there such thing as “too young” when it comes to orthodontic work?

Parents can have braces put on in phase 1 for two reasons:

  • 1) to accomplish the above goals (jaw alignment, creating space for permanent teeth) or
  • 2) to align teeth for reasons important to those children or parents who would like teeth straight early. This could be because Mom wants to see straight teeth or perhaps the child is involved in a play or social situation which the family wants the child to present with straight teeth.

3) What are the benefits or downfalls for starting your kids on orthodontic work at a young age?

The American Association of Orthodontist recommends orthodontic treatment to begin at age 7. Treatment can be started earlier but very rarely.

$300 off braces or invisalign - UTAH

4) How can a consumer (someone like me) know or feel confident that their orthodontist truly has their child's best interest in mind, and not just that they are trying to make an extra buck off of them?

Most children do not need phase one. A parent should be able to understand and see via radiograph and/or clinically a discrepancy which needs to be addressed to improve the foundational, skeletal, or crowding concerns at an initial visit. It should not be a mystery to those involved. If this is clear the parents can be sure that the extra funds used to initiate and complete phase 1 treatment are not an unnecessary expense but a worth while investment into the future beautiful smile of their child.

Translation:

In dumbed-down terms from my own head…your child should go in for an orthodontic treatment at 8 years old. If there are serious issues with bite, jaw, or if teeth are too crowded for permanent teeth, Phase 1 treatment will incur. Phase 1 should NOT be used to straighten a child's teeth. Most kids don't need phase 1. If an orthodontist recommends phase 1, “it should not be a mystery to those involved” (as Dr. Parker said). Which means, it should be pretty darn obvious that your child has some funky stuff going on! Buck teeth, major overbite, etc. If an orthodontist recommends Phase 1 because of reasons you have never noticed before, you might want to get yourself a second or third opinion.

How to budget for braces or Invisalign

Good news, Utahns!…

Dr. Parker, is BEYOND generous. I told him I was doing this post (obviously, because I had to ask him for 100% of the answers…) and he said he would offer – wait for it –

$300 off any comprehensive orthodontic treatment!

Just go to Parker Ortho in Midvale, UT (just off of 5400s), tell him you heard about the deal from this blog, and BAM. $300 buckeroonies saved. Again, I'm not getting paid to write this. I just know I was at a loss when looking for an orthodontist locally and didn't want to turn to Google. So take this as my personal recommendation, friend to friend, that I have been beyond impressed with their staff and services. For what it's worth 🙂

Additional helpful posts:

Hope that helps! Happy Friday y'all…

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Comments

  1. My son started young. Perhaps 7? I have to say though he was waking up ALL night long and it increased to what I thought were night terrors. He was seen by every specialist with no answers other than medicate him. Nearly a year later and us both exhausted form nearly no sleep my sister sent me to an orthodontists. Sure enough his bite was so off it was cutting off his airway at night. SCAREY! A simple appliance helped fix that nearly immediately and we were once again finally getting sleep. His issues were a small mouth, large teeth and all of them coming in at once. To look at him you wouldnt think his teeth looked wacky but boy what a disturbance they caused.

  2. I had phase 1 work starting at age 8 because of a crossbite and some serious crowding. Definitely not cosmetic, it actually made my teeth look worse as it my bite was corrected. Phase 2 was when they started looking better again. As far as my experience is concerned, this is all spot on.

  3. So Fun seeing Dr. Parker -Justin is a dear friend who use to live down the street from my family in St. Louis…he is an awesome man and has a wonderful family – next time you go in for an adjustment tell him Maria and the Masurat gang say hi!

  4. This is all so good to know!:) Another thing I wonder about is bringing your kids to the dentist… how are u supposed to believe if they really need treatment or if the dentist is just loving collecting the insurance money?

    • Right?? It’s so hard. That’s just why you have to go with someone you trust, which is why I sing Dr. Parker’s praises.

  5. I was just asking my kids’ dentist about this yesterday. My child will need extensive dental and orthodontist work due to missing 5 adult teeth. She is 7 and we have known since her first xrays at age 4 that she was missing her two adult bottom teeth. She is also missing three adult top teeth and she will need implants, jaw treatments and retainers. Your post included excellent information. Thanks!

  6. This is actually really relevant to me right now. My wife recently took our 7 year old to an orthodontist. As I understand from what she relayed to me, he basically said the same thing. He could wait, but it would be better to start now and do a two step program. Thanks for the info on this. It’s always nice to have a second opinion.
    Dustin recently posted…Jazz, Lower Bowl, and the Ignorant UsherMy Profile

  7. I had braces starting in 7th grade. The first ortho i had gave everyone 3 year treatment no matter what. I had some pretty big issue, a missing permanent tooth (never grew in, wasn’t knocked out) right next to my front teeth on top. This allowed for a large gap between my front teeth. Every month at my appt my front teeth would immediately separate and then the ortho would tie them together again with bands/chains, there was too much movement for sure – a huge red flag this ortho did not have my best interest at heart, I needed something else. After 3 years I got my braces off and a retainer with a tooth attached to fill in where the missing tooth was. I couldn’t take my retainer out even long enough to eat without my front teeth moving. My Sr year of high school my aunt referred us to an orthodontist that she had told about my situation. I was devestated to have to get my braces back on. But we quickly realized this ortho always had the patient in mind (we thought it was cute that he would always said “if you were my granddaughter I would suggest….”) he quickly had me get some of my gum tissue from between my front teeth removed and was able to have my front teeth in the correct place with braces while my gums healed, 6 months later my braces were off. The gums had been easily identified as the cause of the issues with my front teeth and had my original orthodontist addressed this issue I would not have had my roots of my front teeth completely damaged. Typically the roots on your front teeth are twice as long as the portion of the teeth you see, mine are 1/4 the length they should be and run the risk of easily falling out. This causes a lot of anxiety. I had worked with many specialists this past year to get an implant where the missing tooth was and every single one of them, looking at my x-rays, had said “you must’ve had an awful orthodontist”. All this to say, parents be very very careful and selective when choosing your child’s orthodontist. I know my mom wanted to help (I has severe self esteem issues from my teeth and was bullied at school) so she found the cheapest ortho she could so that they could afford the braces monthly. Looking back there were lots of red flags while seeing my first ortho, and ultimately so much damage was done from improper care that the cost will be so much more emotionally and financially. This is a great post and I think it speaks a lot to my experience with orthodontics. Straight teeth may be the end goal but ensure the proper route is taken.

  8. I got braces at age 8 and got them off at 11. Eventually, my retainer didn’t fit anymore and the reason was because my wisdom teeth were coming up.

    My mom became extremely angry with me because my teeth were spreading and she thought that I was lying. Lo-and-behold, my dentist told her that I was right.

    I got braces again at 16 and off at 18. This time, my orthodontist took them off prematurely (in my opinion) because I had a VERY noticeable gap on the upper left side. I decided to stop wearing them because I didn’t see the point in keeping a permanent gap in my mouth and she also ignored my complaints of soreness.

  9. My daughter had braces at 9 and her wisdom teeth removed at 13. She clearly didn’t have enough room in her mouth for all of those teeth.

  10. Thanks for this post. It was exactly what I was looking for in my search for advice on my 8 yr old who is currently having phase 1 treatment and may need phase 2 now as well. Ugh. Poor girl but I can visibly see the major issues in her pretty mouth. Your ortho said pretty much the same as mine. Reassuring post. Thanks!

  11. My parents decided I needed braces when I was 7, it was miserable. I had them for 9 years. I had corrective jaw surgery at 16. I had a slight overbite and I definitely didn’t need braces for 9 years to fix it, but I’m glad I got them straightened out as a kid.

    • Yikes!! Wow thanks for sharing! I wondered if starting early would just prolong the process. So interesting!

  12. I don’t know what to do. My 8 year old has serious over crowding. The orthodontist said 2 permanent teeth will Have to come Out if we wait and and do nothing the he will need braces to anyway. My thinking is that why make him go through all this problems at 8 when we will have to do it at 11-12 again. And what if his mouth straightens out on its own. I have heard of this

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