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Does Your Child Need Braces? Here’s How to Tell

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young child with gap in front teeth

It has been said a million times, but it often needs to be repeated: children don’t come with a guidebook for parents. You know that a lot of kids end up needing braces, but how can you tell if yours will, too? Thankfully, you don’t have to figure this out on your own! Below, you’ll find some key indicators that your child could benefit from braces.

Noticeably Crooked Teeth

This one might seem obvious, but if a child has large gaps between teeth, or some overlap or are rotated, then braces are probably in their future.

Baby Teeth Falling Out Early or Late

While the loss of baby teeth happens at different times for every child, there is a general timeframe when it should occur. Typically, a child will start losing their teeth around 6, and most of their permanent teeth will come in by age 12 (with the wisdom teeth appearing in the late teens or early 20s). If the baby teeth fall out sooner than expected or stick around much longer, this could point to developmental issues, which orthodontics can likely fix.

Mouth Breathing

Often, the teeth come in crooked because the jawbones are too narrow, causing them to crowd. This can also restrict the upper airway, making it difficult for a child to breathe through their nose. As a result, many resort to mouth breathing.


This is an extension of mouth breathing. If your child snores almost every night, this means they are having problems breathing during sleep, which is likely the result of a narrow upper airway. Orthodontics can be used to widen it.

Thumb or Finger Sucking

Roughly 95% of infants will suck their thumb or finger, and this is a perfectly natural and healthy behavior. Many children stop naturally, but for those who continue past the age of 4, the constant pressure can interfere with the growth of the teeth and jaw.

Misaligned Bite

If one row of teeth sticks out much further than the other, if the teeth look offset side to side (crossbite), or if they don’t meet at all in certain areas when the mouth is closed (open bite), then your child should be examined by an orthodontist.

When these issues are treated by a certified orthodontist, they can easily be fixed for life and not affect the health of your child at all. The key is to be proactive and schedule an exam as soon as you notice there might be a problem. That way, the orthodontist can intervene early, leading to a faster treatment, ensuring you have nothing to worry about your child’s smile.

About the Author

Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is a board-certified, award-winning orthodontist that has been serving the Columbus area for over a decade. He has helped countless children over the years, and he always goes out of his way to make the orthodontic experience comfortable and stress-free for both them and their parents. If you think your child might need braces, you can schedule a FREE in-person consultation and exam by clicking here.