When Do Kids Need Braces?

Posted on: August 22, 2023 | Blog

As you’ve watched your child grow, you’ve probably noticed their teeth coming in. If their teeth are crooked or crowded, you may be wondering whether or not your child will need braces. Let’s take a look at a few of the situations when kids need braces, and the best ways to prepare.

When to Visit the Orthodontist

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist at 7 years of age. At this age, children usually have a mix of permanent teeth and baby teeth, and it is often clear at this age how the rest of their teeth will come in. An initial exam can show bite misalignments, or if the child’s teeth are overcrowded. Dental x-rays can show the status of the child’s permanent teeth that have yet to appear. With all of this knowledge together, your orthodontist can tell you whether your child is likely to need braces or not in the future. Your child’s general dentist may also recommend a visit to an orthodontist if they notice crowding or other alignment issues that can lead to more serious issues down the road.

When Do Children Usually Get Braces?

Though some early orthodontic treatments, like palatal expanders, might help early on, the ideal age for children to get braces is around 12 or 13 years old. At this age, the permanent teeth have appeared, but the child’s mouth is still growing, which allows braces to be more effective. At this age, the child is also better able to care for their teeth while they have braces than at younger ages. They may wear the braces from a year to two and a half years.

When Do Kids Need Braces?

Every child is different, and it can be difficult for parents to determine by themselves when kids need braces. Sometimes, braces are needed for functional reasons; the child’s teeth may be aligned in such a way that it interferes with their chewing or damages the teeth. In some cases, the child or parents seek out braces for other reasons; aligning teeth may give the child a brighter smile that they’ll feel more confident about later on or correct a speech impediment.

In nearly all cases, whether cosmetically driven or not, orthodontic alignment can help prevent other dental issues such as tooth decay, jaw problems, abnormal wear and more over time, so the line between aesthetics and health is often not clear. If parents and orthodontists agree that a child will benefit from braces, either because of their bite alignment or the appearance of their teeth, then braces are generally a good option. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few common situations where a child typically will need braces.


When one or more of the upper teeth fit inside the lower teeth, this is called a crossbite. This differs from an underbite, where the entire lower jaw is shifted forward, in front of the upper teeth. A crossbite can damage teeth over time since the teeth do not align as they’re meant to, and the friction between the teeth can damage tooth enamel. This is one situation where a child might need braces to correct positioning.

Overbite or Underbite

Ideally, upper and lower teeth should line up together when the mouth is closed. However, an underbite or overbite often occurs, where either the lower jaw (underbite) or upper jaw (overbite) protrudes. In some cases, the issue is mild and won’t affect the child’s chewing, swallowing, speech, or appearance. In other cases, braces might be needed to correct the alignment.


When the child’s mouth is too small to accommodate all of their teeth, the teeth can overlap and develop at odd angles. This can make it difficult to clean the teeth, and lead to more cavities and tooth decay. Crowded teeth can be a health issue and an aesthetic issue that can be solved with braces.

Spacing or Gaps

On the other side of the spectrum, kids might also have large spaces or gaps between their teeth. With larger spaces, different types of food can get stuck in these gaps more easily, making chewing and eating more difficult. Gaps in certain places can also make it challenging to talk, causing mild to strong speech impediments that can often be resolved through proper tooth alignment.

Protruding Teeth

When the front teeth protrude over the lower lip and the upper jaw pushes forward, it can be uncomfortable. Protruding teeth may affect the child’s confidence in their appearance, and may also affect their speech or eating. Protruding teeth can also be more vulnerable to damage when a child experiences outside impact, especially common for children who play sports.

In some cases, these orthodontic issues may be mild, and others may be severe. Any of these situations, and others as well, may be a situation where kids need braces. If you notice these issues developing in your child or you’re wondering whether or not your child needs braces, make an appointment with an orthodontist today. Our orthodontic specialists at BDG can assess the situation and recommend the best action to take for your child.


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