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Braces for Kids: How to Know If Your Child Needs Braces

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Portrait of a happy smiling teenage girl with dental braces and glasses.

In this article:

  • How do I know if my child needs braces?
  • How much do braces cost?
  • How to lower the cost of braces.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends children get an orthodontic checkup “either at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem or at age 7.” If a problem exists, or if one is developing, your orthodontist can advise you on which treatment is recommended and when it should begin. If and when your child does need orthodontic treatment, orthodontists are likely to use braces to correct the problem. 

Why do kids need braces? 

Children can need braces for a variety of reasons. This includes: 

  • Straightening crooked teeth — Braces can realign teeth by applying constant, gentle pressure. This is commonly done using small metal brackets cemented to the teeth and connected by wire. When your child visits an orthodontist, they usually tighten them to shift the teeth into the correct position. Metal braces aren’t the only option, though. Other choices include ceramic braces, lingual braces, and clear aligners.  
  • Guiding permanent teeth into better positions — Permanent teeth can sometimes grow in wrong positions, especially high in the gums. Also, permanent teeth can overcrowd, leading to poor quality gum tissue. Braces may fix these problems. 
  • Correcting bite problems — A crossbite is one of the most common reasons kids need braces. It’s a misalignment of teeth, usually when the top and bottom teeth don’t come together properly. If left untreated, a crossbite can lead to several dental problems, including chipped or worn teeth, jaw pain, and asymmetrical jaw growth. Braces are a way to fix this issue and other bite problems such as underbites, overbites, deep bites, and open bites. 
  • Closing gaps — The main problem with gaps between teeth is that your gums are exposed when you eat food. Food particles can get stuck between these gaps, which can build up plaque and possibly lead to gum disease. Braces can help close these gaps, resulting in a beautiful, healthy smile.  

How do I know if my child needs braces? 

Some of the signs that point to the possibility of your child needing braces include:

  • Difficulty chewing or biting — This can signify that your child has misaligned teeth or jaws. 
  • Early or late baby teeth loss — If your child lost their baby teeth early, their teeth might move into the empty spaces before their adult teeth emerge. On the other hand, losing baby teeth too late can cause alignment and spacing issues. 
  • Crowded teeth — Crowded teeth are difficult to clean properly. If left untreated, your child may experience tooth decay, bad breath, or gum disease. 
  • Abnormal bites — Crossbites, overbites, underbites, open bites, and deep bites are all signs that your child may need braces. 
  • Thumb or finger sucking — If your child sucks their thumbs or fingers, it can pull their front teeth forward, which may cause crowding on their bottom teeth. 

How Much are Braces for Kids? 

Various factors can affect the cost of braces, including the severity of the problem, the estimated length of treatment, and even your location. The cost of braces can range from $3,000-$10,000. 

The cost can also change depending on your child’s braces. Here are some of the most common options and their estimated costs: 

  • Metal (traditional) braces cost $4,000 – $7,500.
  • Ceramic braces – a blend with the color of teeth with only a thin metal wire visible – cost $4,500 – $8,000.
  • Lingual braces bonded to the inside surface of teeth, lingual braces are virtually invisible when the wearer smiles – cost $6,000 – $10,000.
  • Clear aligners – such as Invisalign – cost $3,000 – $9,000.

See how much you can save with a dental savings plan.

Use our calculator below >

How to Reduce the Cost of Braces

Dental insurance is one way to reduce the cost of braces. Check your plan’s details to see what your annual spending limit is – the maximum they’ll pay in one year. You’ll also want to see if your plan has a separate spending limit for braces, or a lifetime spending cap (there often is) as these factors can help you understand just how much you can save on braces with dental insurance and how much you’ll need to pay out of pocket.

If you don’t have dental insurance, or if your insurance doesn’t provide you with enough coverage, consider joining a dental savings plan, an alternative to traditional dental insurance. Dental savings plans offer discounts on various dental services at a nationwide network of participating dentists – including orthodontists and other specialists. Plan members of dental savings plans typically save 20% or more on the cost of orthodontic treatment, depending on the specific plan you choose. That can easily be thousands of dollars saved per child. 

And while dental insurance has annual spending caps and lifetime benefit limits, dental savings plans do not, making these plans a great choice for reducing the cost of braces. These plans are a flexible alternative to insurance that offer discounts on virtually all dental services, including braces and other treatments often associated with orthodontic care, at a nationwide network of dentists, orthodontists, and other specialists.

Plan members of dental savings plans typically save 20-25% or more on braces, which can easily amount to thousands of dollars saved per child on the plan. How? Because while dental insurance typically has annual limits and restrictions on how much you can save, dental savings plans do not. And quick activation lets you join today and start your braces treatment tomorrow.

Want a quick peek at how much you can save on braces with a dental savings plan? Use our calculator below. Just enter your zip code, select braces and we’ll populate a personalized plan recommendation. No commitment. 

All cost averages obtained from the DentalPlans.com procedure search tool, and/or independent research

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