Dear Dr. H,
My dentist thinks my 7 year old daughter needs braces! I don’t want to put her in braces at 7, only to have to put her in braces again when she is a teenager. Why would we do this to our daughter? What is the dentist thinking?
Phoenix Mommy
Dear Phoenix Mommy,
There are a couple of reasons we put children in braces before they hit puberty. I have not seen your daughter, so I can only list the possible reasons:
1. The most common reason we put young children in braces is because we want to control their growth. – I know that sounds odd, but let me explain. If a child comes in with her lower jaw jutted out like Jay Leno or pulled back like Homer Simpson, we know that their adult face will be affected. Facial symmetry and alignment is what makes people attractive and we want to help a child grow up to look their best.
Technology has given dentists the ability to make a child’s face grow so that we can fix a jaw problem BEFORE puberty. Once a child hits puberty, we can no longer control their growth.
2. Children can be cruel. If a child has front teeth that they find embarassing or they are being teased about their smile, it’s time to intervene. This kind of bullying can have life long effects on a child’s self esteem.
3. Sometimes an adult tooth will erupt into the mouth in an inconvenient spot that disrupts where all the other teeth are supposed to go. When that happens, moving the problem tooth with braces allows all the other teeth to come in correctly.
I hope I helped you see why early braces makes sense in some children.
Dr. H

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