What Age to Start Braces and Orthodontic Treatment

May 29, 2024

When it comes to giving your child a healthy, beautiful smile, parents often wonder about the right time for braces. If you're picturing your child navigating middle school with a metallic grin, you're on the right track—but there's more to the timeline of orthodontic treatment than meets the eye.

The Ideal Age for Braces/Invisalign 

Most children should be evaluated by an orthodontist at the age of 7, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Why so early, you ask? At this age, a child's mouth contains a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth, allowing the orthodontist to determine if orthodontic issues are likely to develop.

However, the most common time to start treatment with braces is between the ages of 10 and 14. This is when most children have lost all their baby teeth, and most of their permanent teeth have come in. During these transformative years, a child's head and mouth are still growing, which makes it the optimal period to correct tooth and jaw problems.

Why the Timing Matters

Initiating orthodontic treatment at the right age can have long-lasting benefits for your child's oral health. Correcting misaligned teeth not only contributes to a more confident smile but also prevents a plethora of dental problems. Crooked teeth are harder to clean, making tooth decay and gum disease more likely.

Imagine a child named Mia who has noticeable crowding in her lower teeth. If Mia's family postpones orthodontic evaluation and potential treatment, the overcrowding could worsen, possibly impacting her gum health and leading to more complex dental issues later on.

Signs Your Child Might Need Braces

While age is a guideline, it's not the only indicator of the need for orthodontic treatment. Keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb sucking beyond the age of 1.5 years old
  • Crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude, or are recessed
  • Biting the cheek or the roof of the mouth
  • Teeth that meet abnormally or not at all
  • Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion to the rest of the face

In Some Cases, It's Better to Wait

In certain situations, an orthodontist might suggest waiting before starting orthodontic treatment. If your child still has many baby teeth or if their mouth is too small and faces potential crowding issues, a "wait-and-see" approach may be recommended.

The Consequences of Waiting Too Long

Delaying orthodontic treatment when they're needed can lead to complications. For instance, if a cavity in a misaligned tooth is left untreated, it can grow into a bigger problem that is more difficult and expensive to fix later on. Overcrowded teeth can make proper dental hygiene difficult, increasing the likelihood of plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay.


Timely orthodontic treatment leads to positive outcomes, both cosmetically and health-wise. Your child's smile is unique, and so is the timing for their perfect smile journey. Consult with an orthodontist to map out the best path and remember—early evaluation could save your child's smile down the road. If orthodontic treatment is in your child’s future, starting at the most beneficial time will ensure they'll be sharing their healthy, vibrant smiles with confidence for years to come!