Preschoolers and Braces

Dentists say they can often tell if a child is going to need braces as a tween even before he enters kindergarten?

I suppose the early warning is helpful in that it gives parents the opportunity to start saving up for the pending orthodontia. After all, according to a recent New York Times report, depending on the severity of your child’s overbite, you’re looking at shelling out between $4,500-$7,000 for braces.


And that doesn’t include the thousands that some are forced to pay for preparatory and follow-up work to correct remaining alignment issues. What’s more, the paper reports that most dental insurance plans cover roughly $750 to $2,000; but often the whole tab is paid out of pocket.

So how do you know if your preschooler is doomed to spend part of his junior high years with a mouth full of metal?

Dentists say the amount of spacing on the lower front teeth is a key indicator. Ideally, you want to see some spacing down there. If the bottom teeth are tight or even slightly crowded, the child will most likely experience the same problem when his permanent teeth come in. According to dentists, they also look for signs of under bites or excessive overbites in preschoolers. These skeletal patterns are often indicators that a young child is destined to wear braces.

But how young is too young for braces?

Dentists claim that braces should be put on younger children in order to get nicer results and a more stable bite in the long run. Experts also note that if the jaw relationship is off in a young child, orthodontists can change the bases that the teeth sit on to a more favorable position. Orthodontists can also widen jaws so all the teeth fit without having to extract permanent teeth.

For children requiring braces, dentists say it’s a good idea to get started at around age 7 or 8. By attending a consultation at that age, dentists will be able to determine whether your child would be able to benefit from early treatment or if it would be wiser to wait for all of his permanent teeth to come in.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.