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The right time for braces

Orthodontic braces are used to help position and align an individual's teeth. Getting braces is something that is typically seen as a rite of childhood. But many parents are unsure as to when their children should be fitted for braces.

Although many children benefit the most from getting braces between the ages of 10 and 15, the American Association of Orthodontists as well as international orthodontic authorities advise that children should get their first orthodontic screening by the age of seven, when there may be a mixture of permanent and juvenile teeth in the child's mouth. The orthodontist may be able to forecast any future problems that may arise and note if there are any preliminary steps that can be taken.

Even though many children wait until adolescence to get braces, and most doctors will want to monitor kids' oral structure as they grow, familiarity with a child's mouth enables an orthodontist to act when the time is right. Some orthodontists work to remedy an overbite or underbite, and they also may address spacing issues.

How braces work
Braces straighten teeth by putting steady pressure on the teeth to help shift the teeth into correct position. The orthodontist will determine how long to keep the braces on.

As the teeth shift, the wires that are part of the braces will be cut and adjusted accordingly. Teeth that require extra help may necessitate the use of specialized headgear to impart extra pressure on the mouth.

Today's braces are much less noticeable than those of yesteryear. Some braces are smaller in profile, and there are clear varieties and those that are placed behind the teeth. The wires used in braces also have changed. They are smaller and more technologically advanced to help straighten teeth faster and easier.

Living with braces
Braces will require some alterations to a child's diet as well as his or her oral hygiene routine. Sticky foods or ones with small particles that tend to lodge between the teeth should be avoided as much as possible. Chewing gum can be exceptionally troublesome. Sticky candies may get stuck, and you could pull off brackets trying to unlodge the candy.

Keeping  teeth clean also will require a few extra steps. Because of the small parts and crevices braces create in the mouth, food can lodge in areas more easily. If left that way, one could end up with tooth decay. It is adviseable to use specially designed floss brushes and picks to clean the teeth and dislodge any trapped particles. Also, continue with routine dental cleanings as scheduled.

After braces
At the time braces are removed, most patients are fitted for a retainer that will be worn at certain periods of the day (usually at night) to help keep teeth aligned properly. It is important to continue to use the retainer as advised by the orthodontist to help prevent teeth from shifting or becoming crooked once more.

Braces are a necessity for thousands of people. They're generally applied during the preteen years, but younger children as well as adults have used braces successfully.


I have three children ages 10-14 that are currently in orthodontic treatment. Today I was told that my oldest will be ready for "phase" 2 in six months. I'm still paying on my youngest and have seven months left to pay off the bill. Orthodontic work is so expensive, but necessary too, at least in my kids' case. All three had horrible underbites which affected breathing somewhat. I have been very happy with our provider, but I'm disappointed that we now have to move into a second phase of treatment. I was hoping we were a "one and done" family. :(

Great post Bonnie!

My sister and I had braces. I was in middle school and she got hers in elementary because she needed two phases. Just make sure they wear their retainers after all the money you pour into them. I have worn my retainers and so mine are fine but I know plenty of people that haven't and it seems like money down the drain.

I can gratefully say that my two oldest are very responsible with their retainers and are very careful with them when they have them out. I on the other hand lost my retainers when I was in middle school. Yeah, I won't be letting them know that. lol