Almost every middle school child you see today has braces on their teeth. But, did you know most dental problems start as early as age seven? For this reason, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends you bring your children for an orthodontic examination by the time they’re 7-years-old.

Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean they’ll need braces. In fact, by taking your children to visit the orthodontist, you might be able to head off problems before they get worse.

If your orthodontist sees problems, your child might need a retainer or braces before the baby teeth fall out. For some children, braces might be the only option to fix their teeth.

This guide to warning signs your child needs braces can make you aware of what problems to discuss with your orthodontist.

1. Crowded Teeth

When your child’s permanent teeth start to grow, there might not be enough room for them to grow properly. Crowded teeth can make the teeth turn sideways, cause your child to develop a lisp or have discomfort when chewing.

2. Gaps Between Teeth

Gaps between the teeth are noticeable warning signs for braces. Many times, the gaps fill in themselves as permanent teeth come in.

3. Lost Baby Teeth Early or Late

Losing baby teeth either too early or too late can mean your child needs braces. If your child lost teeth too early, the other teeth can move into the spaces. Losing teeth later than usual can cause alignment problems.

4. Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking and pacifier use can change the way your child’s teeth grow. It can result in jaw pain and misaligned teeth and jaws. If your child is a thumb sucker, it could be he or she has teeth that need braces.

5. Breathing Through Mouth

If your child is a mouth-breather, it can change the shape of the face. Many times, the cause of mouth breathing is the inability of the tongue to rest against the roof of the mouth. This can cause your child to develop a narrow jaw without enough space for all the teeth.

6. Underbite

Do you notice your child’s bottom teeth protruding beyond the upper teeth? This is an underbite. It usually happens when there’s undergrowth of the top jaw or the bottom jaw overgrows.

7. Overbite

This is the opposite of the underbite. With an overbite, your child’s teeth would protrude over the lower bite. This can cause mouth breathing because your child can’t close his or her lips together.

At What Age Can Kids Get Braces?

By visiting your orthodontist when your children are about 7-years-old, it gives the orthodontist time to evaluate and make treatment recommendations. Often, children need palatal expanders to treat overbites, impacted teeth and crowding. This device slowly widens the jaw.

Sometimes, the problem is too severe or your child is too old for a palatal expander. In this case, your child would need braces. The average age for braces is from 9 to 14. At that point, your child has several permanent teeth.

The exception is Invisalign. Your child can wear these invisible braces starting at 6-years-old.

How Long Will Your Child Need Braces?

When your child gets braces, the teeth will slowly move to a healthier, appropriate position. The orthodontist can’t give you a specific time for how long the braces will need to stay.

Some children need braces for only one to one and a half years, while others keep them on for two years or more. It all depends on how severe the condition is and how quickly the teeth move.

Types of Braces for Kids

Now that you know the warning signs of why your child needs braces, here are the types of braces available.


The Invisalign system uses a series of invisible aligners to straighten your child’s teeth faster than traditional braces. These plastic braces can be customized for children ages 6 to 9.

Your child can have both baby teeth and permanent teeth for Invisalign. Another good thing about them is you can take them off when your child’s eating or brushing teeth. This makes these braces comfortable and convenient.

Invisalign braces can decrease the anxiety your child feels about braces since they’re discreet and comfortable.

Lingual Braces

These braces attach to the back of the teeth using wires and brackets. They also help with issues like tooth discoloration.

Traditional Metal Braces

Most metal braces are stainless steel. They have several parts attached to the metal brackets for treating problems of the jaws and teeth. These are the most common parts of traditional metal braces:


These small squares are attached to each tooth. They’re bonded to the front of your child’s tooth with a dental bond. The brackets hold the archwires in place. The bracket’s only function is to hold the wires in place. The wires job is to move your child’s teeth.

Ties or Rubber Bands

The ties are rubber bands that attach the archwire to the brackets. Most children like to pick out colored rubber bands of their favorite color. They can change the colors with each checkup if they want to.


Springs are attached to the archwires to help pull gapped teeth or push overcrowded teeth into place.


Some children need headgear to add pressure to the upper jaw. The headgear anchors your child’s upper teeth by using elastics connected to it. This treatment is usually for overbites.

Braces require all these parts to correct your child’s dental problems unless your child has Invisalign. It usually takes one to two hours to put on the braces.

Checking Teeth Early Can Stop Problems Before They Start

Having your children’s teeth checked by an orthodontist by the time they’re age 7 can prevent future alignment problems. Early treatment can help your child’s self-confidence, speech, and a happy smile.

While there are many different options for braces, it’s important to talk to your orthodontist about what type is best for your child. If you don’t know whether your child needs braces, contact your local orthodontist for more information.

Contact us to have your child evaluated if you notice any of the warning signs that your child needs braces.