I have been asked almost everyday, does my child need braces? When is it considered an appropriate age to explore orthodontic treatment for my child? Should we wait till all the permanent teeth are out and baby teeth are gone? Why are so many young kids wearing braces on their front teeth? 

The short answer to all of these questions is that not all kids need braces –  some don’t need them at all, some could benefit from orthodontic treatment, and some really need them. 

As a parent I completely understand how hard it is to figure out what is the best thing to do for your child especially on a very technical matter that is hard to decode. 

Some would argue that too many kids are in orthodontic treatment these days. The competitive market in dentistry has been in general blamed for the over-treatment trend. I won’t completely disagree on the increasing rate of over treatment. In fact, there is good scientific statistical data that patients are over treated in the US. 

Independent of your child treatment needs at an early age, we would like to perform a first visit  orthodontic screening around the age of 7 even before all permanent teeth are erupted. Some parents wait till the dentist tells them to take their child to an orthodontist

A few things can go wrong with waiting for a dentist referral, dentists are not trained orthodontists and could miss major issues since their primary focus is on overall oral health and mostly tooth decay. Dentists do not always evaluate orthodontic needs during general oral health and dental check up. In fact, how many times that you went for your regular teeth cleaning and only spent time with the oral hygienist. 

Orthodontic screening is often free and doesn’t require a lot of time. The benefit of this screening appointment could be the difference between getting braces with jaw surgery or just braces. Children orthodontists can modify growth to correct crossbite, crooked teeth, and malocclusion related to skeletal issues. 

It’s important to note that every child has unique dental growth and development and their chronological age doesn’t always match up with their dental age. Early orthodontic treatment for children, otherwise known as Phase I orthodontic care, is something that I would evaluate at the first screening appointment. High percentage of self-referred patients don’t need phase I early treatment. We collect digital records including a scan of your child’s mouth and xrays at these orthodontic evaluation appointments which helps us to track changes through the dental development. We might follow up with multiple orthodontic check-up before any treatment recommendations.

Children’s Braces

Orthodontic treatment for children is focused on early skeletal and dental problems. Examples are small upper jaw, openbite becasue of thumb sucking habit, or crossbite (bad bite).

Different kind of braces are used for children. Pediatric dentist are great in identifying some of the early misalignment. Different types of braces, archwires and clear plastic aligners can be used for an orthodontic treatment plan. Dental insurances partially covers the payment plans for metal brackets or other kinds of braces.

Orthodontic treatment could be as simple as a custom-made mouthguard to protect the front teeth while maintaing a regualr dental care checkups.

What exactly is Phase I of Two-Phased Braces Treatment for Kids?

Phase I treatment for kids is a highly specific limited orthodontic treatment. It often lasts one year and focuses on fixing a child’s skeletal problem, on eliminating habits, or on reducing dental crowding. Retainers will hold the teeth in place after this phase of treatment.

We at PORTH take a conservative approach to phase I orthodontic treatment for kids transitioning from their baby teeth to adult teeth.

Typically, this treatment will take up to 12 months to complete and it does not involve all of the child’s teeth. Oftentimes, children who undergo phase I of the braces treatment will need a second round to address problems which require all adult teeth to come in. Click to learn more about phase II treatment for teens.

3D printed Customized Expander

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Braces?

It is hard. You have to trust the professionals. Orthodontists had extensive training to screen your kids for treatment. It is smart to get 2-3 opinions. More than 3 will leave you with lots of confusion. At any rate, parents should be aware of the following warning signs. 

Do braces fix the gaps between front teeth in kids?

Gaps between your child’s teeth will often close by themselves as more adult teeth come in. Sometimes, however, gaps appear when a child’s jaw bone is too big. If you notice gaps in your child’s smile, an orthodontic screening should be performed. 

Should I fix crowded teeth in my child with kids braces?

Some adult teeth might appear crowded during the early stages of growth. Sometimes these problems will resolve themselves over time, but it’s always best to consult your dentist or orthodontist early on. 

Do braces fix thumb sucking problems?

If your child is sucking their thumb after the age of five, it might be a cause for concern. Thumb sucking at an older age can lead to problems with your child’s teeth alignment, jaw development, speech and face shape. 

Should I be concerned with my kid breathing through her mouth?

Multiple factors can contribute to your child primarily breathing from their mouth. Habits, large tonsils, small arches are some of the common issues. Remember not every kids who is a mouth breather needs orthodontic care. It is important to identify the origin of mouth breathing and fix it before adult teeth are erupted.

Do braces for kids fix the Overbite or Underbite?

This tends to happen when there is overgrowth or undergrowth of the top and/or bottom jaw. Follow this link to our website for visual examples of what to look for. Treatment for teens often address these issues.

The American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association recommend that parents take their children to see an orthodontist by the time they are 7-years-old for an initial examination. By the time a child reaches 7 years of age, they will normally have a mix of both their baby and adult teeth. At this stage of your child’s oral development, your orthodontist should be able to predict if braces or another orthodontic treatment will be needed in the future. At PORTH, options for braces can include traditional metal braces, clear braces or ceramic braces.

What are the benefits Of Braces For Kids 

Contrary to popular belief, braces and other orthodontic treatments can provide much more than just the appearance of a straight smile. 

The American Association of Orthodontists states that “an improved appearance is the most obvious result. But when teeth and jaws are in alignment, it means function (biting, chewing, speaking) is improved, too.” 


The earlier treatment is often easier since the biology works more efficiently. Improvement in self-esteem is one of the tangible out come of early treatment especially these-days with the power of social media. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to floss and clean. By providing your child with braces, you are reducing the risk of dental decay, gum disease, and improve her dental health for the years to come.

Can my child have an Invisalign? 

Braces aren’t always the only orthodontic treatment option for your child. When treating orthodontic problems early on, there are two types of appliances we use: fixed or removable. The appliances we use for children include a lite version of braces (partial braces only on front teeth), clear aligners for kids, expanders, headgear, habit appliances, and sometimes functional appliances. The goals are to help with potential skeletal issues, to assist with the transition to adult teeth and to make sure your child has straight teeth. 

Sammamish Orthodontist

Clear aligners have been trending with patients seeking orthodontic treatment. Aligners also referred to as Invisalign are great choices for kids that are open to wearing them about 22 hours per day. Casper is 6.5 years old and is our youngest patient in PORTH kid’s aligners. He decided to wear aligners after he learned about them from his brother. 

How can I find a top orthodontist near me?  

I recommend that you see 2-3 orthodontists to learn from various opinions on potential treatment. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to find an orthodontist near you.

If you are interested to consult with us, here is more information about our board certified orthodontist. Dr. Rooz is an assistant professor of orthodontics at the University of Washington. Beside teaching and practicing at PORTH, he is also a scientist consultant with multiple companies developing next generation of orthodontic appliances. Dr. Rooz is a father and understands a parent’s need to trust orthodontic specialists who are treating their child.  Our team always strive to go above and beyond to provide excellent orthodontic care to all ages, including early intervention orthodontic treatment.. Dr. Rooz does not believe in over-treating children. We try to provide as much information as possible on our website and in blog posts, but for the best answers, it is always best to visit us at PORTH. If you have any questions regarding braces for kids, or are curious about how much braces cost – we are happy to provide you with more information! Book your child in for an orthodontic consultation in Bellevue orthodontics or Sammamish orthodontics, WA, through our website or by calling us at (425) 526-2060 or email [email protected]

Our team loves working with kids and helping them achieve their best smile! A healthy and beautiful smile can positively impact your child’s everyday life and routines. It also decreases the risk of future oral problems and ultimately minimizes the risk of trauma to your child’s teeth and mouth. We typically start braces treatment for children around the ages of 6-11 years old.