The Benefits of Braces -- Now

Six years old is no longer considered too young for braces. Orthodontists believe it may prevent more serious dental problems in adolescence.

Q: According to our pediatric dentist, my son needs braces already. If he gets them now, will he need them again as a teenager?

A: Believe it or not, 6 is no longer considered young for orthodontic work. "Even 3- and 4-year-olds can sometimes benefit from early intervention," says John Bogert, D.D.S., former executive director of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Treatment for children this young usually involves some sort of removable orthodontic appliance rather than the fixed, full-banded braces that are more common among older kids. "The goal with younger children is often to correct some sort of skeletal problem [such as poor jaw alignment] rather than to straighten the teeth," explains Dr. Bogert.

In some cases, getting orthodontic help early, when your child's mouth is still growing, can eliminate the need for braces later. In other cases, it can reduce dental problems during adolescence. "But every child and condition is different," stresses Dr. Bogert. "If you're not completely comfortable with your dentist's recommendation, by all means seek a second opinion."

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