DOES MY CHILD NEED BRACES?One of the questions we often get asked is, “does my child need braces?” Well, that depends on a number of factors, but there are specific signs that your child may need braces or even early orthodontic treatment, some of these include:

•  Teeth that appear to be overlapping or growing in at weird angles
•  Bites that are misaligned
•  Difficulty chewing or talking due to the alignment of the mouth or jaw
•  Habitual biting of the cheek
•  Jaws that make weird sounds, such as popping or cracking
•  Losing baby teeth too early or delays in losing them

The American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association recommends all kids be evaluated for orthodontics by age 7. By this age, an orthodontist can detect subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth. Most kids begin active treatment between ages 9 and 14.

Only a few orthodontic problems need correction while a child has baby teeth. If a problem is detected, chances are your orthodontist will take a “wait-and-see” approach and will check your child’s growth and development periodically. But if your child should need early orthodontic treatment, correcting dental problems early on can help you save money and improve your child’s overall orthodontic experience.


Early orthodontic treatment is often referred to as Phase 1 orthodontic treatment or early orthodontic intervention.

The goal of early orthodontics is to treat certain problems, such as overcrowded teeth or overbites, at a time when they are easier to correct – usually around 7 to 10 years old – because the bones are more receptive to being shifted and moved around.

Depending on the issues your child needs to have corrected, the treatment options that may be used as part of Phase 1 include spacers, expanders, retainers, and braces.

After Phase 1, there will be a “rest” period to allow your child’s body to continue to grow and permanent teeth to grow in. Once this is complete, Phase 2 orthodontic treatment begins. This phase of orthodontic treatment shifts and realigns teeth using braces or a retainer to ensure proper alignment.


Early orthodontic treatment can significantly reduce the amount of time needed for orthodontic treatment later in adolescence by avoiding jaw surgery or having teeth extracted. These procedures often need to be performed when people wait until their permanent teeth have grown in to seek any type of orthodontic treatment.

Early orthodontic treatment can also help save you money. Future orthodontic treatment often costs less because it is less intense, shorter, and doesn’t require additional procedures such as surgeries or tooth extractions.

Want to know if your child needs braces or early orthodontic treatment? Call us to schedule a routine examination. During your child’s routine examination, our pediatric dentists will conduct a complete oral examination and look for any possible dental problems and will assess if early orthodontic intervention is needed.

Alameda Pediatric Dentistry offers orthodontic services in both our Alameda and Oakland locations. For our Brentwood and Pleasanton patients, we will refer you to one of our local orthodontic partners if you would like to see an orthodontist closer to home.

Source: American Association of Orthodontists

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