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.
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.
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.
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:
- Why I got Invisalign as an adult
- Braces or Invisalign? How to know which is right for you.
- How much braces cost (and how to budget for them)
Hope that helps! Happy Friday y’all…