Mamma Musings

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Braces?

How Old Do You Have To Be To Get Braces?

Orthodontic treatment can perfect your child’s smile. As long as they have a few adult teeth, braces are a viable option, but orthodontists have some age preferences. Teenage teeth are more responsive to correction and less prone to de-calcification than adults’. That doesn’t always mean it’s best to wait for your children to reach their adolescent years, though.

Dental corrections can address misalignment in children as young as seven when the mouth is malleable and has plenty of room for movement. There’s no rule of thumb for every patient. A good orthodontist will assess your child carefully and make an educated recommendation. Let’s take a closer look. 

Children of Seven to Nine Years Old

dentist inspecting a childs tooth

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Braces aren’t ideal for children with a full mouth of milk teeth, but many parents choose this age for its social benefits. Pre-adolescent children are less likely to feel self-conscious wearing orthodontics, so if your child has two or more adult teeth, your dentist might be willing to begin a treatment plan.

There are some drawbacks to pre-adolescent braces, so don’t be too quick to request them. Aligners require careful, time-consuming cleaning and disciplined eating. As a parent, you’ll need to manage that responsibility until your child is old enough to manage it on their own. If you have a busy lifestyle, consider whether you can fit orthodontic hygiene into your busy routine before settling on early braces.

Young mouths are also prone to change with age, so orthodontics is rarely enough for seven-to-ten-year-olds. The child will generally need to wear orthodontic appliances well into their teenage years to prevent misalignment. To complicate the matter further, young children have only 20 baby teeth.

Once they reach adulthood, that number leaps to 28. The extra clutter can create alignment problems in adolescence, lengthening the treatment time and adding unnecessary complications. If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to wait until your child has turned 13. 

Preventative Orthodontics for Children Younger than 10

The orthodontic industry is increasingly using a two-phase preventative approach to realignment. This method goes beyond mere straightening by preventing problems before all milk teeth are lost. It can shorten the second treatment stage and address complicated problems more effectively.

The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that your child should have their first orthodontics exam at the age of seven. This is when preventative care is at its most effective. Even if you want to wait a little longer to start the alignment process, this assessment will identify the earliest stages of malocclusions. They might decide to remove problematic teeth or fit clear, plastic aligners to prevent the need for braces later. 

Early Adolescence

Early adolescence is the golden age of orthodontics. The child has grown a significant number of adult teeth and is mature enough to handle their own dental hygiene. They can brush and floss correctly without parental help and manage the dietary changes required from their treatment.

Their heads and mouths have grown, so an orthodontist can achieve their highest goal in one fell swoop. Orthodontic imperfections tend to worsen with age, so attacking the problem at age 13 can reduce your costs and discomfort. It’ll also leave your teen free of braces and misalignments by graduation day. Unfortunately, realignment is no simple task, so teenage intervention isn’t perfect for all children. An early consultation will give your orthodontist the opportunity to create a proactive strategy for the future.

Braces are less intrusive than the railway tracks of the Eighties, but they can still make your child self-conscious. The early teenage years are prime terrain for self-esteem issues. The stigma of orthodontics can be devastating to many older children, so never leave your child out of the decision-making process.

An orthodontist can advise you on the medical and technical aspects of their field, but they can’t give you a front-row seat to your child’s psychology. If your teen is struggling with social phobia and self-consciousness, it might be best to save the orthodontics for adulthood. Bear in mind, however, that few adults ever go through with braces. Only 46% of patients in their 20s feel positive about the option, so there are no easy answers. 

Late Adolescence

Teens older than 14 can handle subtle aligners that younger children struggle with. They’re pretty much invisible and far more comfortable than traditional braces. Aligners require a full set of adult teeth, so they’re only appropriate for children who’ve reached adolescence. That said, older mouths are less malleable, so a 14-year-old patient will probably need to commit to a longer treatment length. 


Millions of adults are pursuing orthodontic treatments annually, but childhood will always be the optimal age for dental correction. The earlier you plan your first orthodontic assessment, the better your doctor can plan for the coming years.

Start at the age of seven, and you might even find that there are pocket-friendly preventative treatments that can render braces unnecessary. With a little forward thinking and plenty of professional advice, you can make sure your child has a sparkling set of straight teeth when they go to their first school formal. What good is a glittering dress without the perfect pearly whites, after all?


Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply