July 25, 2019 Tri Le Yes, children can definitely wear braces with some baby teeth remaining. Children won’t need braces when they have only baby teeth, but it may be the right course of action in some cases where a child has mixed baby and permanent teeth. That’s the short answer. The long answer is that nobody can offer you a one-size-fits-everybody answer. An orthodontist or dental provider with orthodontic training will be able to determine if and when braces are necessary, or whether alternative treatments are more suitable. They may suggest waiting for more permanent teeth or using an alternative therapy to braces. Still, waiting for permanent teeth before getting braces can risk aggravating serious dental issues. You should work with your dentist to uncover the best solution for your unique child. Find out more about various dental problems that may require early orthodontic treatment. Seek Orthodontic Consultations at a Young Age How old should your child be before your first trip to the orthodontist? According to the American Orthodontic Association, concerned parents should seek an orthodontic appointment as soon as they suspect any dental problems. Even if the parents don’t suspect any issues, they should consider scheduling an appointment with an orthodontist for their child at age seven. By this time, orthodontists can spot very subtle signs of issues with the child’s teeth, jaw, and bite. Outcomes from this first trip may include: Delaying treatment until the child has more permanent teeth Beginning treatment before more adult teeth erupt Deciding that no orthodontic treatment is indicated at this time If early treatments can help stave off worse problems in the future, your orthodontist might suggest braces or other orthodontic treatments immediately. Still, an early appointment won’t commit you to any treatment. In fact, the orthodontist may not find issues to treat. He or she might refer you to another medical practitioner to treat symptoms that you report. Your orthodontist will simply offer you a diagnosis and a treatment plan. Your child’s appointment will arm you with the knowledge you need to make the best choices for your child’s care. What Kind of Dental Problems Indicate Braces with Baby Teeth? Again, early treatment may benefit the child by heading off more serious problems in the future. For instance, the orthodontist might suggest pulling extra baby teeth to give adult teeth a clear path to emerge. In other cases, the dentist could suggest spacers to take the place of missing teeth to ensure proper jaw growth. Also, an issue such as an overbite may impact the child’s appearance, so the orthodontist and parents might choose to fix the problem as early as possible with solutions that might include braces. This list highlights some examples of the kinds of issues that may prompt an orthodontist to suggest braces to young children: An underbite or overbite: This means that the top teeth are either far ahead of or behind the bottom teeth. A crossbite: A crossbite means that the child’s jaw shifts to one side or the other. Crowded or spaced teeth: If the child’s teeth are either too close together or too far apart it might indicate that permanent teeth will grow in along the same pattern or impact jaw growth. Missing or extra teeth: Some children may actually have either extra or missing baby teeth that can affect future jaw growth. Some orthodontic problems can be seen even when a child has baby teeth.See an AAO orthodontist no later than age 7. https://t.co/baILn5U31t pic.twitter.com/h97F0Hy023 — AAO (@AAOrtho) June 5, 2017 To see photos of the kinds of problems that may require orthodontic treatment in young children, you can refer to this free PDF from the American Orthodontic Association. The images in that document portray very obvious examples, and you should still visit an orthodontist for an expert evaluation of your child’s mouth. In addition, there may be some issues that are not visibly indicated by the child’s teeth or jaw but that an orthodontist may diagnose and treat. Some symptoms could include excessive mouth breathing, very late or early loss of baby teeth, jaw sounds, and even speech problems. While other things could generate these symptoms, they may originate from orthodontic issues. A consultation with an orthodontist will give you the chance to determine the cause, if the symptoms need treatment, and where to go for help. As a note, some very young children may even change the shape of their jaw by sucking too much on pacifiers, bottles, or lidded cups. In these cases, orthodontists may want to correct the problem at a young age, so the jaw shape won’t impede the growth of permanent teeth later. Your dentist may also suggest ways you can help your child curb these bad habits. Do Orthodontists Always Prescribe Braces for Young Children’s Dental Issues? No. Even though many people associate orthodontic treatment with braces, they aren’t the only solution and won’t be appropriate for every problem. For instance, the dentist may decide that removing some baby teeth will offer a better solution. The dentist will carefully time extractions to the child’s stage of development. Some dental issues may require both braces and extractions. Treating each child’s oral health as unique is the best course of action and something we ourselves practice steadfastly. Whatever the right treatment may be, the earlier you attend to these issues, the better chance you have to minimize later problems. What to Expect From a Child’s First Visit to an Orthodontist The first time you take your child to an orthodontist, expect an exam and some interview questions. The dentist will generally check the child’s mouth and may do some bite tests. In addition, he or she will ask you some questions about chewing, swallowing, and jaw sounds. Feel free to mention any concerns at this time. Your orthodontist will have the training and experience to spot many problems, but he or she will certainly want your input and observations. Remember that some orthodontic problems may appear as obvious as a severe overbite but some, like difficulty pronouncing certain words, may not be visible to you at all. When to Schedule Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit Naturally, you can seek a consultant with an orthodontist whenever you believe your child has a problem with teeth or jaws. Even if you haven’t seen any issues, you should know that some signs may be very subtle in younger children. Still, these issues can lead to much more serious and hard-to-treat issues in the future. That’s why you should consider scheduling your first appointment earlier rather than later. While an orthodontist may advise some parents to delay treatment until more or all adult teeth emerge, they might suggest braces for another patient right away. The sooner you schedule your orthodontic visit, the sooner you can solve your child’s dental problems. Just some benefits of this early treatment may include correcting bad habits, guiding jaw and tooth growth, minimizing risk of trauma to teeth, and of course, improving facial appearance. Again, the America Orthodontic Association suggests having your first appointment by about age seven. Of course, if your child is already older than that, it’s certainly not too late to seek orthodontic care. Even adults visit the orthodontist for the first time. Tri LeA practicing dentist since 1987, Dr. Le has been running successful dental practices in Texas with his wife Ann since 1990. A member of the ADA, AACD and AADSM, Dr. Le has also contributed to several leading dental journals.