Can 7-Year-Olds Get Braces?


The medical information in this post was provided by Monica Fisher, M.D., a licensed pediatrician.

Wondering whether your 7-year-old can get braces is a tough call for a parent. Sometimes the braces may be necessary to your child’s overall well being while other times it may turn out to be unnecessary.

Can 7-year-olds get braces? 7-year-olds are certainly capable of having braces; however, it isn’t usually recommended unless your child has cleft lip/palate, retro or micro-gnathia, or other significant issues. This isn’t usually the time to correct crooked teeth because your 7-year-old is still losing their baby teeth. This is a good time to consult with an orthodontist to discuss your options for the future. 

Getting braces is a serious undertaking for a 7-year-old. There are many things to consider before deciding whether or not to put braces on your child. 

7-Year-Olds and Orthodontia

The question of whether or not a 7-year-old is capable of getting braces is an easy “yes” answer; however, the issue extends beyond your child’s capabilities and should be more focused on their need. 

The children who typically need braces at 7-year-old or younger are those whom a licensed Pediatrician described as having a “significant maxillofacial problem”.

This simply means that the child has a cleft lip/palate or retro or micro-gnathia, which translates to a small or recessed lower jaw, rather than just a couple of crooked teeth. These are problems that can be helped with the aid of braces early on in a child’s development. 

These aren’t the only issues that could warrant early orthodontic attention, but they are some of the more severe and well-known cases.

If you think that your child has one of these problems or something else you’re concerned about, then consult your doctor on the best cause of action moving forward. For some, that may be orthodontics which will be recommended by your doctor as a possible solution. 

Medical Conditions

A cleft lip/palate may not seem like something directly affected or fixed by braces, but the Cleft Lip and Palate Association explain how orthodontia can be beneficial.

“An orthodontist may need to widen the area around the cleft to allow the surgeon to access it easier, and this can involve your child wearing braces for a while before surgery.”

Micro-gnathia is also something that may be aided by the use of braces. This condition is when the lower jaw is recessed or smaller than normal. Surgery and braces combined are usually partners in combating this problem. 

Both of these conditions are serious enough to start your child’s braces wearing life early on. These are also problems that have been diagnosed and discussed with doctors, dentists, and orthodontists together. 

These examples go to show you the wide range of services orthodontists can provide depending on your needs. Yes, an orthodontist is in the business of straightening teeth, but it may not be necessary to take care of it so early in your child’s development. 

A consultation with an orthodontist would be the best path to take if you’re concerned about your child’s jaw and teeth alignment. 

Again, the question shouldn’t be can my 7-year-old get braces but does my 7-year-old really need braces now.

When I was in elementary school, my orthodontist was afraid I would fall and break off my front teeth because they protruded so far from my mouth, so I was issued a shiny set of braces and the new title “metal mouth”. Don’t worry, I was actually excited about the new hardware (little did I know how much it hurt to get them tightened). 

The American Association of Orthodontists gave a list of things that an early visit and treatment could do for your child:

  • “Guide jaw growth”
  • “Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth”
  • “Correct harmful oral habits”
  • “Improve appearance and self-esteem”
  • “Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position”
  • “Improve the way lips meet”

You’ll all be happy to know that my “treatment” worked, and I never had the misfortune to fall and break off my shiny new front teeth! All in a year’s work for an Orthodontist.

All in all, your child may need the help of braces to prevent any damage or problems caused by aggressive incoming adult teeth. It’s important to learn all you can about your child’s jaw and teeth structure to make sure nothing goes awry. 

According to the same source, children typically start needing some sort of orthodontic treatment between the ages of 9 and 14. This is not a solid group that everyone fits into. Your child may need the early attention of an orthodontist, or you may find yourself wanting some teeth straightening assistance later in your life. 

Don’t worry, most orthodontists offer consultations for free or a small fee. Doing your research can really aid you in what orthodontist in your area will give you a good price for a consultation (and later services, if needed). 

Baby Teeth 

7-years-old may seem like a very young age to start bringing them to a specialized orthodontist. You are having these inquiries for a reason to come scouring the internet for guidance. We are here to help! 

Whatever you are seeing in your child’s oral development, 7-years-old is a good time to visit the orthodontist. Your 7-year-old is capable of having braces on their baby teeth, but you’ll want to know if it’s necessary. 

Reservations about giving your child braces at 7-years-old comes a lot from the prevalence of baby teeth in their mouths. Orthodontists can certainly tell you if there are signs of future problems with the arrangement of your child’s adult teeth and provide preventative solutions.

However, a lot of the time you will just have to wait for some more adult teeth to come in to start fixing the problem. Every case is going to be different.

Dentists, doctors, and even orthodontists talk about the “textbook cases” where there is an obvious solution. However, every child is unique and your orthodontist’s expansive knowledge can help figure out those problems side by side with you and your child no matter their age.

On the other hand, the American Association of Orthodontists highly recommends that you not wait until all adult teeth are in to seek advice from a professional. 

The American Association of Orthodontics explains that if you want for all your child’s baby teeth to fall out and their adult teeth to take their places, then there may be nothing they can do for some problems. 

This is why they encourage early check ups before all the development has ended because there may be some preventative things they could try to minimize or cut off the problem before it arises fully. 

If you are just worried about the straightness and alignment of your child’s teeth for cosmetic reasons, it may be better to wait for a few more adult teeth to come in.

You don’t have to wait for ALL the teeth to fall out because some alignments can happen even before that time, but the more adult teeth the orthodontist has to work with, the better it may be to get the cosmetic look you’re hoping for. 

The decision just has to be made between a medical or cosmetic issue and what time in your child’s life would be the best to solve such issues.

This isn’t something you have to decide on your own, though. Your orthodontist can present you with personalized benefits and paths to take with your specific child. 

All of this, once again, goes to show how helpful and informative a consultation meeting with an orthodontist can be. 

Consultations

One of the reoccurring themes of this post has been to bring your child to a consultation with an orthodontist in your area. This visit can help you discuss solutions, specific corrective actions that will be taken, financial responsibility, and time lines without great cost to you. 

The American Association of Orthodontics has publicly declared that you should consider signing your child up for a consultation when they are 7-years-old or if there is any sign of major problems, earlier than that. 

“Your child should get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7. By then, your child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontist to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing.”

The American Association of Orthodontics 

Bad Habits

Some things that an early consultation can nip in the bud are bad habits. These are typical things that we hear about ruining kids teeth including sucking their thumbs.

The bad habits can lead to issues with misalignment in the future. If your orthodontist can assess and offer solutions early on then you can avoid the fall out later. 

The American Association of Orthodontics also has a section on signs that can let you know if you and your child need to visit an orthodontist now. 

Here is that list:

  • “Early or late loss of baby teeth”
  • “Difficulty in chewing or biting”
  • “Breathing through the mouth”
  • “Thumb-sucking”
  • “Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth”
  • “Jaws that are too far forward or back”
  • “Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth”
  • “Protruding teeth”
  • “Upper and lower teeth that don’t meet, or meet in an abnormal way”
  • “An unbalanced facial appearance”
  • “Grinding or clenching of the teeth”

None of these problems are particularly alarming and they definitely aren’t life threatening, but they can give your child a harder time living life fully.

Teeth care and correction can help keep the teeth healthy and allow your child to easily progress through life with little difficulty on the sleeping, eating, and drinking fronts. 

Financial Plan 

Simply put, braces are expensive.

So, another reason consultations are encouraged is to prepare you for the future financially. If there is a problem that your orthodontist would like to monitor, this can be a good indicator that you will want to start saving money for this specific purpose. 

You will be less stressed when the moment strikes and your child needs braces if you have been saving for this day. Preparation is always key when it comes to your child’s health because it is not cheap. You will most likely feel more prepared if you start saving for the things they need in regards to braces right away.

A financial plan can be prepared as soon as you discover the issues that will need to be fixed in regards to your child’s teeth. This plan can be a stress reliever and a figurative life saver. 

In a later section, I discuss the financial obligations that specifically pertain to braces. 

Catching Problems Early On

The American Association of Orthodontics also discusses the reasons for such early checkups. They discuss the many problems that can be missed easily by a parent. These issues are usually simple warning signs that indicate a need to plan for the future.

I don’t mean to sound so cryptic, these plans are usually for braces or other measures taken by an orthodontist to keep your child’s teeth healthy and aligned.

Overall, there are 3 things that could come out of a visit to your orthodontist.

  1. Your child could have no pressing issues that require attention
  2. Your orthodontist could see a problem that they will want to track
  3. OR your orthodontist will see a problem that could benefit from immediate solutions

Unlike the dentist, which should be a high priority for your kids’ health throughout their lives, orthodontists aren’t a necessary part of every child’s life.

You may not need to get your child braces or even a visit with an orthodontist past the first consultation because there may be nothing amiss with your child’s oral development. 

The recommendation of seeing an orthodontist by 7-years-old is mainly a precautionary tale. You want to be able to catch any developing problems, anticipate the future needs, or cut off any problems at the root (figuratively speaking). 

Price of Braces and Where To Go

When asking if your 7-year-old can have braces, you are probably already noticing an issue with how your child’s teeth are developing. A good piece of information to note is the cost of such choices.

This isn’t supposed to sound overly dramatic or daunting, but braces do, in fact, cost money. Something we forget about is that after braces you are going to need to buy a retainer. Retainers are what keep the newly aligned teeth in their assigned seats for the rest of their lives, so there is an extra cost to you. 

When you have orthodontics insurance, it can help greatly with the cost of the braces and other orthodontic services. According to the world wide web, a good range of estimated costs for braces can sit between $3,000-$7,000. 

This price can change depending on what city you’re in and which orthodontics office you choose. The key advice I can give you here is to do as much research as possible before selecting an office. 

If you are in a big city then you will have a wider selection to choose from, but if you’re from a smaller area then you’ll have to see what you can work with.

The American Board of Orthodontics website gives some great tips on how to find the right orthodontics office for you.

They first start out by encouraging you to put together a list of all the orthodontists that you can possibly take your child to. This list can come from the internet, friends, family members, or your dentist. 

No matter who you pick, the website urges you to make sure they’re board certified. You will also want to look at the individual company websites for each choice. Then look up patients reviews on and off the website to see the whole picture.

The final piece of advice they give is to go in for a consultation. Something that may swing your vote is if they offer free consultations or not. This isn’t indicative of how good of an orthodontist they are, but it may swing your vote if there are financial restrictions. 

If you follow all of these steps then you are sure to find the orthodontist that is right for your child!

Related Questions

How long do you have to wear braces to straighten your teeth? When looking at the history of orthodontia as a whole, the typical time it takes for teeth to straighten with braces is anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Every case is going to be different and no one’s teeth are going to behave exactly the same way, so there is no definite time that all teeth straighten. The difference in time will also depend on how misaligned your teeth are to begin with. The more misaligned the teeth, the longer it takes to correct. 

What age is best for braces? The American Association of Orthodontics says that kids typically get braces around 9-14 years old. There are always times when braces will be needed earlier or later in a person’s life. The best age for braces will be the age in which the most problems can be solved when it comes to your oral health. A consultation with your orthodontist early on can help you determine the best time for you. 

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