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Signs your child may need braces

posted on 2-15-19

Although it would be great if we were all born with perfect teeth, that just isn’t the case. For some of us genetics have predetermined our need for some type of orthodontic treatment. And for others it can be harder to determine whether braces or orthodontic treatments are needed.

February is Children’s Dental Health Month, which is a great time to schedule a check-in or an initial consultation with an orthodontist. While it may seem early, children should be seen by an orthodontist no later than age seven to discuss overall health of teeth and jaw and all possible treatment options.

Wondering if your child may need braces in the future? Here are a few signs to watch for:

Inconsistent loss of baby teeth

Is your child losing baby teeth at the right time, in a semi-regular cadence? In general, kids start to lose around six years old and continue losing teeth up until about 12, when their second molars fall out. While everyone Is different, if your child starts losing their teeth at a younger-than-normal age there could be an underlying issue at play. Conversely, losing baby teeth in their later years can also impact a child’s jaw and teeth alignment, making it more likely they will need braces.

Crowding of teeth

Have you ever wondered how in the world new, bigger adult teeth are going to fit into your child’s mouth? Overcrowding teeth with little room for adult teeth to come in could signal the need for braces. A comprehensive evaluation of your child’s overall jaw and mouth will set your mind at ease and help prepare your family for any future orthodontic treatments. Without treatment overcrowding can lead to impacted teeth that require much more invasive intervention.

Issues with breathing, chewing, or biting

If you’ve noticed your child struggling to eat or bite normally, or breath easily, it could be due to an orthodontic related issue. Many people may not realize that orthodontists are trained to address more than just the alignment of teeth—they treat the full spectrum of mouth, teeth, and jaw issues. If a patient is having a hard time biting properly or experiencing issues with chewing or breathing it could be a symptom of an issue with the structure of their jaw. Seeing an orthodontist before a child’s mouth has fully developed can help address any serious concerns before they reach adolescence or adulthood.


Plenty of young children suck their thumbs, but when the habit continues into adolescence, it can spell trouble for developing mouths. Look for children to stop sucking their thumbs around 6 or 7. Thumb-sucking can result in protruding front teeth and a misaligned bite. If left untreated the damage from thumb-sucking can require braces for a longer than normal period of time, with additional treatments like an expander.


There are a lot of reasons a child might require braces; some are genetic and some are a product of lifestyle or habits. Only a qualified orthodontist can safely assess a patient’s unique situation and recommend a plan for treatment.


To better understand your child’s health needs, use the Orthodontist Finder at the top of this page to find a Utah Association of Orthodontists member near you.

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