How Do You Know if Your Child Needs Braces?

How Do You Know if Your Child Needs Braces?

Deciding whether your child needs braces can be a daunting task for any parent. Braces not only straighten teeth but also address various dental issues that can impact oral health. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the signs that indicate your child may need braces, the ideal time for evaluation, and what to expect during the process.

1. Understanding Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities. Braces and other orthodontic devices correct misaligned teeth and jaws, improving both function and appearance.

Types of Orthodontic Treatments:

  • Traditional Braces: Metal brackets and wires that gradually move teeth into the correct position.
  • Clear Aligners: Removable, clear plastic trays that align teeth without the need for metal brackets.
  • Lingual Braces: Braces placed on the backside of teeth, making them less visible.
  • Ceramic Braces: Similar to traditional braces but made of tooth-coloured materials for a less noticeable appearance.

2. Signs Your Child Might Need Braces

Crowded or Crooked Teeth:

  • Overlapping or twisted teeth are common indicators that braces might be necessary.
  • Crowding can make brushing and flossing difficult, leading to cavities and gum disease.

Bite Problems:

  • Overbite: Upper front teeth significantly overlap lower teeth.
  • Underbite: Lower teeth extend past upper front teeth.
  • Crossbite: Upper and lower teeth do not align properly.
  • Open Bite: A noticeable gap between upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed.

Early or Late Loss of Baby Teeth:

  • Losing baby teeth too early or too late can affect the alignment of permanent teeth.
  • If baby teeth are lost prematurely due to decay or injury, adjacent teeth may drift, leading to alignment issues.

Difficulty Chewing or Biting:

  • If your child struggles to bite or chew food, it could be due to misaligned teeth or jaw issues.
  • Observe if your child often bites their cheek or roof of their mouth, which may indicate alignment problems.

Mouth Breathing:

  • Persistent mouth breathing, especially at night, can be a sign of orthodontic issues.
  • Mouth breathing can affect jaw growth and the position of teeth.

Jaw Issues:

  • Listen for popping, clicking, or other noises when your child opens or closes their mouth.
  • Notice if your child frequently complains of jaw pain or if their jaw appears to shift or is out of proportion.

Thumb Sucking or Pacifier Use:

  • Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use beyond the age of 4 can cause teeth and jaws to shift, leading to the need for braces.

3. When to Schedule an Orthodontic Evaluation

Early Assessment (Ages 7-10):

  • The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an initial orthodontic evaluation by age 7.
  • Early evaluation allows the orthodontist to identify potential issues and plan for timely intervention.

Signs to Look for by Age 7:

  • Large gaps between teeth.
  • Crowded front teeth.
  • Early signs of bite misalignment.

Adolescence (Ages 11-14):

  • Most children who need braces will get them between ages 11 and 14.
  • This period is ideal because most permanent teeth have come in, and the jaw is still growing, making it easier to correct alignment.

4. The Orthodontic Evaluation Process


  • The orthodontist will conduct a thorough examination of your child’s teeth, mouth, and jaw.
  • They may use X-rays, photographs, and dental impressions to assess the alignment and structure.

Treatment Plan:

  • Based on the evaluation, the orthodontist will develop a customized treatment plan.
  • The plan will include the type of braces, duration of treatment, and any other necessary orthodontic appliances.

Discussion of Options:

  • The orthodontist will discuss different treatment options, including traditional braces, clear aligners, or other alternatives.
  • They will also provide an overview of costs, duration, and what to expect during treatment.

5. What to Expect During Braces Treatment

Initial Placement:

  • The process of placing braces involves bonding brackets to the teeth and connecting them with wires.
  • Initial placement can take a few hours and may cause some discomfort as your child adjusts.


  • Regular visits (every 4-8 weeks) are necessary to adjust the braces, tighten wires, and monitor progress.
  • Adjustments may cause temporary soreness but are crucial for effective treatment.

Oral Hygiene:

  • Braces require diligent oral hygiene to prevent cavities and gum disease.
  • Encourage your child to brush after every meal, floss daily, and use special tools designed for cleaning around braces.

Dietary Restrictions:

  • Your child may need to avoid certain foods that can damage braces, such as sticky candies, hard foods, and gum.
  • Emphasize the importance of following dietary guidelines to ensure successful treatment.

Length of Treatment:

  • The average treatment duration for braces is 18-24 months but can vary depending on the complexity of the case.
  • Follow-up visits will help determine when braces can be removed.

6. Post-Braces Care


  • After braces are removed, retainers help maintain the new alignment of teeth.
  • Retainers should be worn as instructed by the orthodontist, typically full-time initially, then part-time.


  • Regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor the alignment and health of teeth post-treatment.
  • Any concerns or issues should be promptly addressed by the orthodontist.

7. Conclusion

Recognizing the signs that your child may need braces and understanding the orthodontic evaluation process can help you make informed decisions about their dental health. Early intervention can prevent more severe issues and ensure a beautiful, functional smile.

If you notice any signs of misalignment or other dental concerns, schedule a consultation with an orthodontist to discuss the best treatment options for your child.

If you’re ready to take the next step toward dentist or orthodontic treatment for your child, don’t hesitate to contact Kid’s Dental Group for a consultation. Together, we can help your child embark on a journey towards a straighter, healthier smile.

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