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I have a 9 year old boy whose front teeth are crooked. What’s the best age to treat this and how do I go about it?

Such are the joys of parenthood! Unfortunately this is a fairly common situation where teeth come out malaligned.

Research shows that refined and softer diets lead to weaker oral muscles and this in turn affects normal growth and development of the jaws which makes teeth come out the wrong way.

Most children unfortunately, just like adults, prefer the easy way and would prefer food cut into smaller chunks rather than take bites out of chunky foods. For example, apples cut into thin slices rather than whole. Now to answer your question, there is no ‘right age’. If your child is able to brush correctly and able to maintain good oral hygiene in spite of the malalignment, and it doesn’t bother him that his teeth look a little out of whack, it might be a good idea to wait a bit until most of his permanent teeth are out at the age of 11 or 12.

Delaying treatment like this would prevent an overly long session of orthodontic treatment for 3 to 4 years which might cause him to “burn out” and lead to uncooperative behaviour towards the end of treatment as he is already bored with it.

However if he is motivated to start treatment early because he is not happy with the way his teeth look and it’s affecting his self esteem or he is unable to maintain proper oral hygiene because he can’t get his brush into the tight spaces between crowded teeth, then it might be a better idea to start alignment right away.

Oftentimes children who have nice straight teeth are motivated to keep them healthy and this plays a big role in their self esteem.

Another tip is that aligners such as invisalign might help to keep teeth cleaner than with traditional braces.

Lastly this could also be done as a staged treatment if required. The front teeth are fixed at this stage and the rest of the teeth can be sorted after they have come out at around 12 years of age.

All the best with your son’s smile journey!