Should my 12 yo daughter get braces?

My 12 year old daughter's dentist has recommended that she get braces.  Her teeth are slightly crooked, and she has a moderate overjet.  She would probably need them for 2 years, and then has been told she will need a retainer forever to keep them straight.  We are torn over whether we should go down this road.  Neither my husband or I had braces, so we have no first hand experience.  When I was a kid this was never a possibility, as it was clearly cost prohibitive. The cost is a significant factor, but I think the biggest concern is if it is worth the short and long term efforts associated with having braces, then keeping the teeth straight after they are removed.  Our daughter also has mixed feelings, think she will be ok either way. It seems like it is mostly cosmetic, although the dentist did say that the overjet will make her at increased risk for tooth injury (from sports, etc.)  The dentist obviously has a vested interest, so a little difficult to fully trust their assessment.  What have been the deciding factors that you considered when weighing this decision?

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Ask one or more orthodontists, not your dentist.  We see Straty Righellis in Montclair, although he is only there part-time now, and has sold the practice to Remi Ikeda.  The orthodontists have a good idea of how things will progress, in terms of functionality.  Good luck.  

I'd do it. My daughter really needed braces, gappy overbite, but even if her situation were not as bad, I would still have gone with braces. It was not bad having braces in elementary and middle school because almost all kids had them. Sleeping with the retainer every night for 8 years now hasn't been a problem either. Although it is not fair, adults are judged by their teeth; I know several people who have gotten braces as adults because they felt their "poor" teeth impacted their job and social life. I don't understand why you feel the dentist has a vested interest, can't you go to any orthodontist you want? How does that benefit the dentist?

Maybe I'm totally superficial, but I think straight teeth are really important.  Even someone who is otherwise pretty plain, or even homely, looks so much better with a great smile!  In my opinion, you can skip makeup, skip doing your hair, and schlump around in old sweats as long as you have beautiful teeth.   And maybe this is really horrible to say, but besides making you more attractive, it also sends a message about social class.   

Also, teeth get more crooked as you age.  

Your dentist shouldn't have a vested financial interest in whether you seek orthodontia, and shouldn't be providing specific recommendations for orthodontia -- just a referral. We went to see an orthodontist after we were recommended to do so by a dentist. The dentist is interested in tooth and mouth health, not cosmetics. We saw two orthodontists (first and second opinion) and I recommend that you do the same before making a decision. Ask your dentist to recommend two different orthodontists and set up a consultation with each. It will take time, yes, but it will put you in charge of the decision, not your dentist. 

I endured years' worth of orthodontics starting at age 12 and it got so wearisome.  My teeth hurt pretty much all the time for years.  Even after the braces were gone, the hassle of retainers lived on.  I had a plastic nighttime retainer and a retaining wire glued to the inside of my bottom teeth.  One night when I was in college, I thought about how much I missed being able to bite into whole apples -- something I could no longer do because of the retainer wire.  I pried the thing out with a fork and never looked back!  (My bottom teeth shifted after that, but only slightly.)  Ask your orthodontist to explain in detail the way he or she expects the teeth to look in the end (including her profile) with intervention.  If it is minor and if the problem is something she could fix with Invisaline or similar "adult" orthodontics when she's older, I say let it go.

The plastic look of perfectly aligned blindingly white teeth is off putting, IMO.  That said, both my kids got ortho treatment as they got Dad's small mouth with too-big teeth.  We stopped treatment and got retainers when they were good-enough.  I have crowded slightly offset teeth, hubby has gaps.  We both eat, drink, and talk just fine and have many friends and successful careers, if we missed opportunities due to a crooked or offwhite tooth, they weren't in our value system anyway.  Visit a few orthodontists and talk about the needs versus cosmetic issues.  You'll either find a professional you want to work with or find the concerns aren't the same as your family values.

I'd definitely get at least a second opinion. I had braces for slightly crooked teeth and I think it was a waste of money for my parents. I stopped wearing my retainer in early adulthood, so my teeth have gone back to being crooked. It's only my bottom teeth, though, so it's not noticeable when I smile.

I've had a lot of adult friends end up getting braces due to bite problems. It's much easier to straighten teeth and address bite problems when teeth are still somewhat malleable - when we're kids. So I would do it. Also, it seems unlikely your daughter would need a retainer "forever." Maybe get a second opinion on that (from an orthodontist, not a dentist). Our kids' orthodontist is Dr. Righellis in Montclair; not sure if that's convenient for you but we've been extremely pleased with his minimalist approach.

Ah, the braces issue. Having gone through this with my now 17-year-old daughter, I suggested you have an initial consultation with three recommended orthodontists in your area. These should be at no charge, except for specialized x-rays necessary for assessment. Our dental insurance covered the cost of the x-rays. Ask your dentist and social network for recommendations. Listen to what they each have to say, and make an informed decision.

In my daughter's case, her teeth were a little crooked with a slight overbite and front teeth slanting in - nothing major. Each orthodontist said slightly different things with significant overlaps, particularly in regard to my question: If we do nothing now, what might be the implications down the road? We ended up going forward with braces to address potential long term issues. Our dental insurance covered a good bit of the cost, we were able to pay for the remainder with FSA funds (pre-tax). It was estimated that she would be in braces for 2 years. She was able to get them off in about 18months. She wore the retainer 24/7 for the first year or so after getting her braces removed. She now uses it only at night about half the time and it seems to be enough to keep the teeth in place, even through wisdom teeth impaction and extraction.

A couple of closing thoughts:
If you decide to move forward with braces, better to do sooner rather than later. My daughter was grateful to be out of braces before entering high school.
Braces were not an option when I was growing up. Fortunately, I didn't need them. Two of my sisters ended up getting braces as adults, also for what appeared to be minor issues but began causing problems as they got into their 30's and 40's. They were in braces much longer, and the results were not as successful.

Hi, first off, your dentist would have a "vested" interest in getting your daughter to get braces if he/she is also your orthodontist. Either way, you can always see two or three orthodontists, compare their opinions and then decide what to do.  I never had braces since I'm from the former Soviet Union where dental work mostly amounted to pulling the aching tooth (in my time, anyway).  My kids' dentist recommended they both get braces, but at different ages.  My son had braces in his late teens, and while there was some health benefit for that, it was mostly cosmetic.  He is 19 now and will have to wear braces at night for the rest of his life if he wants for his teeth to remain straight - not a big deal to him at all since they pop in and out easily, and he never forgets to put them in every night.

My 7 year old girl's front teeth are so crooked and grow behind each other that she herself is begging for braces.  Her dentist said to start on that this summer, but since she's asking for it I'll get an opinion from two orthodontists and see what they say.

Two of my 4 kids *needed* braces. So expensive, so many visits. The truth is that now, years later, their teeth have shifted back. No retainer for years, no luck at all. $8k wasted

Hi, I think your dentist probably doesn't have a vested interest because it would be an orthodontist doing the braces, not your regular dentist. It wouldn't hurt to get a second opinion, possibly from an orthodontist if you feel the person is trustworthy (because that person has the vested interest). I had braces when I was a kid, and it was quite an ordeal to go through; that was 30 years ago so maybe it isn't anymore. Mine were painful, made it harder to eat, harder to keep my teeth clean, and I had trouble with them scraping the inside of my mouth and causing sores. They gave me wax to put over the sharp parts of the metal braces but it would just come off. I had to have the braces, the dentists said it was medically necessary because I had so much overcrowding; they pulled 4 grown up teeth and used braces to align and fill the gaps over time. I wore a retainer for a couple of years first all the time and then just at night, and then grew out of it (I got bigger, it didn't), and never did a dentist tell me I should wear a retainer forever until years later when a dentist asked why I didn't wear a retainer at night and seemed horrified that I had had braces and didn't. Hmm. Anyway, my teeth are still mostly straight and look fine. I would say if it is purely cosmetic and  your daughter doesn't have a strong inclination either way, then only do it if the crookedness is enough that it may cause her problems socially later in life (like, people will look at her and think, wow, those are crooked teeth). If it is minor and not very noticeable, then I'd skip the expense and ordeal and only do it if she decides she really wants to. Now increased risk of tooth injury is more important, but that sounds odd to me. Of course, I have no idea because I'm not a dentist. But having braces was not a fun experience for me, and as an adult I wonder if it was truly necessary. I recommend talking with some teens who have had braces more recently to find out what it is like today. Good luck with the decision!

Another thing to consider is whether she is fully grown and has lost all her baby teeth and her adult molars are out. I would reassess after all that has happened. I am just speaking by experience here and everybody is different, but my son had crooked teeth and when he was 12 his dentist referred us to an orthodontist who was more than willing to put on the braces. My son was excited because many kids at school had braces and he thought that looked cool. However, he still had several teeth to lose and boys tend to grow later than girls. Anyway, we waited and now that he is nearly 14, his teeth have all straightened and he has a beautiful natural smile. Keep in mind, he did loose his last baby tooth only 6 months ago. My point is sometimes things just fix themselves if you pause and observe for a while. Also, a nice smile does not mean teeth have to be perfect. No rush...  

If your daughter's teeth are only slightly crooked, I would let it go.  When I was younger, I had a retainer and then was supposed to get braces for some crowding and a cross bite.  Well, my parents ended up getting divorced and the orthodontia planning went out the window.  The result: I'm perfectly fine and have a slightly crooked set of teeth and it has NEVER been a problem for me. I hardly have ever gotten a cavity, so my mouth is perfectly healthy.  My dentist hardly has to spend any time scraping my teeth on my visits for teeth cleaning.  It is possible to have a healthy mouth and a healthy life with slightly crooked teeth, and personally - I like the look of an imperfect smile.

Went through something similar with my kids.  You are right there is a profit motive for the dentist to recommend getting braces.  Not knowing where to get an independent evaluation we when to UCSF Dental school in San Francisco. Could not have been more pleased with the folks.  They were excellent and they explained everything.  It's only a 45 min - 1 hr drive from the East Bay and parking was fairly easy.   We liked them so much we decided to have them install the braces.  As UCSF is a teaching center the dentist overseeing the procedures did a wonderful job of explaining everything in great detail.  My daughter really liked everyone there and is was at a fraction of the cost of what we were quoted and the results were the same. 

You might want to do the same.