One of the most frequently asked questions we get asked at our office is “What age do kids usually get braces?”. This is a great question and there is not a specific answer as each child’s case will vary and depend upon their growth and development. At Bovenizer and Baker Orthodontics, we take deciding when to start treatment very seriously and it is part of our mission statement, core values, and we consider this a differentiator in our practice.
We have made conservative treatment start times one of the main focuses of our practice. We treat everyone like they are family…this is easy to say, however is it easy to do? We must first look at the question, “When should a child be seen by an orthodontist”? Without hesitation, a child should be seen by the age of 7 and this is the age that is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontics. Age 7 is when a child should have all four 6 year molars and the upper and lower incisors should be erupting as well. You would think this would be an easy process, but it is not always the case. Sometimes, the 6 year molars get caught under the last primary molar and other eruption issues can be diagnosed. If an orthodontist catches this early, oftentimes early treatment can be utilized. In fact in our office, early treatment (often called “Phase I”) only occurs in about 5% of the children evaluated.
We complete 3D diagnostic imaging on these children and follow them in our Observation Program until they are the right age for orthodontic care. Our Observation Program allows for your child to have complimentary annual checks of their teeth to monitor growth and development and ensure that early intervention is not necessary. This is a very strategic process for Dr. Bovenizer and Dr. Baker. We look at several key aspects when deciding to place an adolescent in braces or Invisalign treatment. We like for most, if not all the teeth, to be developed and in the oral cavity, including the 12 year molars. Sometimes, when crowding exists not all teeth can erupt or come in, but the lower 12 year molars are key.
We also watch when a child is going through an adolescent growth spurt because this is when we can intervene on growth if we need to. Another thing we take into consideration is whether the child has the physical and mental maturity to be able to “handle” braces, take care of them, clean their teeth properly and wear the right elastics. So, at what age do we treat most children at Bovenizer and Baker Orthodontics? The overall average age is 12-13 years old, but we examine many children starting at age 7 and monitor them in our Observation Program.