When to Start Orthodontics in Chidren?

Bite problems and crooked teeth in children worry parents. Ideally, you should start orthodontics as early as age 6. Learn more!
When to Start Orthodontics in Chidren?

Last update: 11 September, 2022

The development of the jaws and the alignment of children’s teeth are issues that concern many parents. Will braces be necessary? When should I take my child to the dentist? Keep reading to find out when to start orthodontics.

Orthodontics during childhood helps the jaws to grow properly and the teeth to be positioned where they should be. This results in harmonious smiles and functional bites.

When to take my child to the orthodontist for the first time?

The ideal age to treat bite problems depends on the type and severity of the condition. The earlier the problems are detected and corrected, the more effective, comfortable, and shorter the treatment will be.

Regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist help the professional detect possible bite problems and make the appropriate referrals to the orthodontist. Some of the reasons that merit an interconsultation are the following:

  • Alterations in the development of the jaws.
  • Variations in dental eruption.
  • Presence of dysfunctional habits.

If everything’s going well, you still need to see a professional

If everything is going well in regular dental checkups, it’s still appropriate to visit the orthodontist when the child begins tooth replacement. Although the growth of the teeth may appear normal at first glance, the specialist can make a detailed assessment of the child’s oral condition.

The Spanish Orthodontic Society (SEDO) recommends a first check-up at 6 years of age. At that time, the first permanent molars erupt and the baby teeth begin to fall out to be replaced by the permanent ones.

A young boy showing his tooth to the dentist.
When mixed dentition occurs is the ideal time to begin orthodontic treatment. This occurs as early as age 6.

What’s the ideal age to start orthodontics?

In general, the ideal time to start orthodontics is as soon as the problem is detected. Taking action as soon as the condition is diagnosed prevents the situation from progressing and worsening.

When an orthodontist discovers any alteration in the bite or alignment of the teeth, they’ll proceed to do a complete study of the case. For this, they’ll take X-rays and intraoral and extraoral photographs, as well as bite records. With this information, they’ll be able to plan a personalized treatment for the child. You can then start orthodontics immediately, starting at age 6.

Why is it a good idea to start orthodontics at age 6?

Starting orthodontics around age 6 has great benefits. In addition to reducing damage to the mouth of little ones, it prevents the need for longer and more complex treatments in the future. It’s a time of great changes in children’s mouths. Here are the details.

Mixed dentition occurs

Mixed dentition occurs between the ages of 6 and 12. During this period, baby teeth and permanent teeth coexist. While the former begin to fall out progressively, the latter take their place.

Acting from this stage onward allows the end of the mixed dentition to be reached with the following aspects under control:

  • All the elements will have space to fit correctly when the second permanent molars erupt.
  • The jaws will have grown properly.

Eruption of the molars

At this stage, the permanent molars also erupt in the back of the mouth. The first molars appear around 6 years of age and the second molars appear around 12 years of age.

The molars at 6 years of age play a very important role in oral development. These pieces guide the positioning of the other definitive elements that will appear later.

Growth of the jaws

At 6 years of age, the maxillary bones are in full growth. This is a time that can be used to shape or stimulate them so that they develop properly.

This bone stimulation is one of the mainstays of interceptive orthodontics. It’s a treatment that can be applied to young children and that will prevent them from reaching the age of 12 with major problems.

A girl with braces at the orthodontist.
From the age of 12, a new stage in the mouth begins, so treatment can be started if it wasn’t possible to do it before. Orthodontics at this time can be interceptive or corrective.

Types of orthodontics in children

As we saw, the ideal time to start orthodontics is at the mixed dentition stage. In turn, from the age of 12, another period begins in the mouth of little ones. The dentition is definitive, but the maxillary bones are still developing, so it’s also a good time to start treatment if it wasn’t possible before.

Depending on the age of the child and the nature of the malocclusion, the professional can choose between two types of orthodontics: Interceptive or corrective.

Interceptive orthodontics

This type of orthodontics is that which can begin at an early age. Its objective is to solve the anomalies of the jaws in the growth stage. It consists of removable appliances that direct and stimulate the jaws to develop correctly. They’re capable of intercepting the growth of the bones, hence the name.

The appliances are very easy for children to use. Interceptive orthodontics serves the following functions:

  • Correcting crossbites
  • Expanding the arch
  • Causing certain tooth displacements
  • Preventing future problems by improving the shape and size of the jaws

Corrective orthodontics

Corrective orthodontics is responsible for guiding the teeth into their proper position. It’s performed around the age of 12, although depending on the case, it may begin a little earlier.

Fixed braces with brackets are the classic example of this type of treatment. But thanks to advances in the field of orthodontics, it’s also possible to perform corrections with invisible aligner systems, such as Invisalign.

The orthodontist’s criteria

Childhood is the ideal time to start orthodontic treatment. Acting on problems as soon as they begin avoids complications and more complex treatments in the future.

In any case, the type of approach to be taken and the right time to start it will be decided by the orthodontist. By studying the clinical case in detail, the specialist will be able to find the best solution for each child.

Visiting this professional from the age of 6 will allow you to take action before the ideal time for early treatment is exceeded.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.