45 answers

Are Spacers and Braces at 8 Really Necessary

My 8 year old daughter has two very large (top) front teeth and they are both crooked. Additionally it is obvious that her other teeth on each side are crooked and it appears there is not a lot of space for new teeth coming in, thus the reason they are probably crooked. The bottom is not as bad, but they are crooked too.

After seeing the dentist, he recommended I talk to an orthodontist - which I did and the orthodontist is recommending phase 1 (there are 3 phases of treatments and depending on the severity) - that she get spacers and in about 20 months 3 or 4 braces on top. Well I had no idea that orthodontia only pays a one time, lifetime benefit of 1,500 - so I need to come out of pocket with a lot of money. ...and this doesn't include the future braces and possibly head gear for the evening if the overbite isn't corrected (and future work if she needs more such as phase 2).

So my question, do any of you have experience with this and/or have you declined this type of work and seen the teeth correct themselves over time? I remember when I was little I had really crooked (and big) upper front teeth and they actually aligned themselves over the years. My teeth are now straight and I have never had orthodontia treatment.

Others keep telling me to get a second opinion, but I'm not sure from one orthodontist to the next that will make a difference and I'll continue to have to pay for dental visits (since most plans cover very little).

As always, you moms are so helpful and I appreciate your advice.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

We made the decision to move forward with the work. My daughter got spacers on the top and bottom and her teeth have really started to straighten out. A couple weeks ago she got 4 braces on the top (spacers are still in too). The price quoted at the beginning included all this work (and I believe includes head gear should we get it). The nice part was not having to fork out any extra money. Everything including routine appointments/maintenance has been paid for. My daughters teeth are looking great and this seems to be the age that they love to show off their braces/spacers/retainers to friends. It is quite amusing and my daughter is happy.

Featured Answers

I was getting ready to ask the same thing! I was told last week that they want to start Phase 1 on my 8 year old and that it will be $5000. I wanted to cry! After reading these responses, I will definitely be getting a couple more opinions. I'm so glad to see this question on here.

I too have large adult teeth and instead of early braces I had teeth pulled to make room for the incoming adult teeth. A few of the teeth were permenent teeth. I had braces put in when I was 12 and had them on for 18 months. I do know that at 8 baby teeth are still coming out and making room for adult teeth. I dont know if this helps but not everyone has braces that early.

NO. Talk with DDS CYRUS OSTER. He says the mouth grows and at 8 years old there is a lot of room to grow into the teeth.
Call him for expert opinion and years of excellent dentistry.
He has spent a lot of time fixing Orthodontist' mistakes which abound.

More Answers

HI S.:

I am an orthodontist in Walnut Creek (Dr. B. Powers); As a specialist, I was hoping my response would be helpful.

There are a few concepts in treatment for young adults that would be good to understand.

At age 8, there are half baby teeth and half adult teeth present in the mouth
At age 12, all of the permanent teeth are in place.
At age 16 to 18 the growth cycle is completed.

I recommend early treatment (phase 1) when there is significant crowding or significant bite problems. There are jaw problems that can only be corrected while the jaw is still growing.

In my office, I prefer to wait until adult teeth are present and provide one stage of treatment when possible; Your orthodontist will be able to explain the risks and benefits of one stage versus two stage care.

Orthodontists in our community generally do not charge for a consultation for children so feel comfortable seeking a second opinion.

Best of luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful

I've always wondered the same thing. I'm not sure what the point of doing it twice is, unless it's to line the orthodontists' pockets. All 3 of my kids had braces, and with my oldest we began at 8, with the jaw widening and then braces, but luckily with him one time did the trick, and we didn't have to do the whole procedure again later. The other two started at about 11 and 12, I'm not sure why -- different orthodontist, maybe -- they only did the whole process once, and now their teeth are straight too.

How perfect does a mouth need to be? It seems to me that unless they have freakishly messed-up mouths, one time ought to do the trick. At approx. 5 grand a pop, it seems like doing it twice is extravagant, and more than most people can afford.

In terms of teeth aligning themselves - I don't think that is common - so you may have to do the braces, but maybe start later so you only have to do the procedure once??

1 mom found this helpful

I agree on getting a second and maybe a third opinion, especially shopping for the best price for what they offer. I know most people that have written were around the same age when they started getting braces. Let me tell you a shortened version of my story.

My mom was told to take me to the ortho when I was three. We were told to come back in a year which we did. I had a very bad underbite at the time. I started with a retainer and chin cup/head gear. Around third or fourth grade, I got a full mouth of braces. Everything was going beautifully until fifth grade when by bottom jaw grew again and I basically had to start all over. If my mom hadn't taken me in when she did, it would have been likely that I would have needed surgery to correct it. It took until between sophmore and junior year of high school before I got the braces off (just before I turned 16). I am not saying I have the best teeth now (mine own fault), but I think my mom took it in the pocketbook so I didn't have to go through as much pain from surgery. My sister and brother (twice) also had to get braces, but not for as long as myself.

If the ortho thinks it is needed, he just might be right. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be done and your daughter will hopefully have a braces free high school experience.

1 mom found this helpful

I had a spacer on the roof of my mouth when I was 9 and it corrected the problem without having to have braces. I have a retainer to wear 3 nights a week now, I'm 26, but my teeth are still very straight and no braces ever! Yea!

Hi S.:
I'm a dentist and had treated many kids with crowding problems. My approach is to take the most natural one that you can come up with. I always started with very few x rays (to not over-expose the children who must be protected). I would extract the baby teeth which may be in the way, first of all. Then, if they needed spacers, I would place spacers. This is the way the crooked teeth can align themselves, if they have the appropiate space. I would be see the kids for several years, until I was pleased with their alignment. Braces should be placed (in my opinion) later (maybe by 13-14 yrs. of age). I hate to move so many teeth at the same time, because you destroy bone tissue; even though, it forms again, but it is an unnatural process, and must be considered. Regular orthodontist, do not consider this and do not find it important. It would be too hard for a little girl like yours, to start with this unconfortable (and many times painful -when they adjust the bands) process.
I can tell you that I made very successful corrections in most of my little patients. I seldom sent any child to the orthodontist. This is just my opinion.
good luck.

My daughter needed early orthodontia work and also started at age 8. This was due to a jaw issue which caused her lower palate to be way too small. We also did three phases. She is now 17, and her teeth are absolutely perfect, and we did not have to have any teeth pulled except her wisdom teeth. We saw three orthodontists before deciding which one we wanted to see and the treatment plan we wanted to follow. Given the current economy, I should think that you could ask for a free (or reduced price) consultation.

Hi S.,

I think it is really hard to know what teeth will do...I started braces when I was about 9 years old. I have actually had braces 3 times....I just got them off for the 3rd time about 6 months ago (at almost 40!!). I did have a very complicated case...mine was missing teeth verses too many. The last time I got braces I had to get them because I was getting denatal implants and the roots of my teeth had moved over into the space where the implants had to go.

Anyways...I could go on and on about my dental care...and the lack of insurance benifits...but I think the bottom line is how does your daughter feel about it? For me it was always a huge self esteem issue. When I was 9 I too had large front teeth that had a huge space between them. I was very self conscience of it. The 1st time I had braces was mostly to correct that. I then got braces again in high school.

I am very thankful for my parents for putting me in braces when they did. After paying for the last set (no orthodontic coverage), along with 5 dental implants myself over the last year, I know it wasn't always easy for them to pay for it. I think they knew that it was something that I needed not only cosmetically, but for my self-esteem.

So I would talk to your daughter about it. You may be able to wait a year or two...but see how she feels. I know it isn't cheap....but may be worth it in the long run. Chances are she may need this dental work down the road..if you start now you will spead the cost over a longer time...

I think it always great to get a second opinion!!!!

My son had his first set of braces (upper teeth only) when he was 7 because his front teeth were widely separated and the adjacent teeth were lined up to cut behind the front teeth (which is what mine did until they were corrected with braces when I was 12 - 14). During the years he had to wear a head piece at night, retainers both full time and only at night, and spacers. He had his second set of braces when he was a sophomore in college, which was when the orthodontist was confident that his jaw had quit growing. At this point he had a significant underbite. He was referred to a different oorthoondist because he is in college in San Luis Obispo which is too far to commute to Roseville for orthodontics appointments. This orthodontist put braces on both his upper and lower teeth to get them aligned and to prepare him to have his jaw broken. However, the orthodontist tried a new procedure that he had heard about at a dental conference in Europe. This worked so well that our son did not need his jaw broken and now has beautiful teeth. However, our out of pocket expenses for the two rounds of braces (after dental insurance was maxed out) was around $7,500, so it definitely was not cheap.

Hi S.,

Even though it may be difficult, I would try to take the financial aspect of your daughter's care out of the equation. Would you still be questioning it if it was of no expense? If not, you have your answer. Also, maybe a second opinion would help make your decision easier. Many of us don't have dental insurance at all....and still have teeth to take care of and mouths to fix. Good luck.

My daughter starting seeing the orthodontist at 9 or 10 when her canines came in above the teeth on her upper gums. He waited to do anything til she was 11. She didn't have room in her mouth for teeth. Before he started she had to have 6-9 teeth pulled. I cant remember theexact amount. She had the different phases done with a cap on our insurance as well. I only had to pay about $500.00. She has gotten them off now at 14 and her teeth are great. She has just a retainer to where on the inside now no headgear. I would wait awhile.

Hi S.,

Orthodontics has probably come a long way in 20 years, but my twin sister and I both had braces; she got hers in 3rd grade and I got mine in 6th or 7th grade (we are now 29). We both had big, crooked teeth. But her early braces aligned her teeth for the mouth she had at an early age, and as her mouth grew she ended up with an underbite and crooked teeth. In high school the orthodontist discussed breaking her jaw to correct the problem (she opted not to), and she had braces again two years ago to finally correct the mouth problems she had due to having braces too early. I, on the other hand, had a much better experience because I didn't get braces until junior high, and my mouth was near adult size. The only reason I got braces later was because my parents couldn't afford to have us both in braces at the same time :-)

The lesson for me was to wait until their mouths are more mature for braces. I'm no expert, and it could very well be that early braces can be a good thing these days. But since you have doubts I do think you should get a second opinion, and be sure to ask about changes as the mouth grows and matures. Personally, I don't plan to consider braces for my kids until junior high, though I know braces are in their future as big teeth run in both our families!


I would talk to a regular dentist first and get his opinion. My dentist, Dr. Dave Aronson, in Vacaville, goes more along the lines that if it's needed, he'll recommend it, if not, he won't worry about it... so he gives care based on what is covered and lets you decide when it's not covered what is really necessary for you... he won't push if you can't afford millions of dollars unless it's medically necessary. I remember my teeth coming in very crooked... they aligned themselves somewhat and I still needed braces in jr. high, but it never got to the point of needing headgear. Keep in mind that dentists (and I assume orthos as well,) make their money off of the other treatments fillings vs. cleanings. They don't make much off of cleanings, but fillings..... and whitenings WOWOWOW! I'd really go for a dentists' opinion before I go to an ortho. Good luck!

NO. Talk with DDS CYRUS OSTER. He says the mouth grows and at 8 years old there is a lot of room to grow into the teeth.
Call him for expert opinion and years of excellent dentistry.
He has spent a lot of time fixing Orthodontist' mistakes which abound.

Hi S.-
I had alot of ortho work done when I was 6 years old and it lasted for 3 or so years. I had a cemented piece which straightened my teeth, then I had a retainer with a key that we cranked a quarter turn every night until my teeth and jaw were spaced correctly. My parents never had my bottom teeth done, which are slightly crooked now as I have aged. The costs were covered (over what dental coverage would pay) through Care Credit.
For your daughter, see if you can just get a second opinion without much cost- call ahead. The work is easiest when they are younger because their bones are still growing. If you wait until she is an adult and she decides she wants it done then, it requires (at least for a co-worker of mine to straighten the teeth and widen the upper) the upper palette to be broken, stretched, set, and then months where the teeth are slowly growing back together. This process has been over a year in the making. Def. get another opinion, and weight the benefits. If it is not worth it and her teeth are just barely off, don't worry about it. But if it is something that has been getting worse and probably will continue to do so, budget it out, do care credit if you have too, and see how you can make it work.
Hope this helps!
-E. M.

Hi S.,

I too was kind of like "does she really need the braces, why can't I just wait?" My daughter is 8 1/2 years old will be 9 in a couple of months and she also is going through the 3 phases. I do have to say she is in the 3rd phase (headgear) and her teeth are looking GREAT! The braces actually worked and fast! The total of the 3 phases was $4500 (insurance paid $1500). For us after seeing the difference in her teeth it was well worth the cost. I have 3 older boys (young men) and I did not do the braces with them and I do regret it (my 2nd son who is 18 years old just decided that he wants braces and said that he wished that he got them when he was younger). I hope this helps you. Good luck with her decision :) Y.

I was getting ready to ask the same thing! I was told last week that they want to start Phase 1 on my 8 year old and that it will be $5000. I wanted to cry! After reading these responses, I will definitely be getting a couple more opinions. I'm so glad to see this question on here.


Take several opinions, but if they all recommend work please get it done! My parents didn't always have dental insurance when we were growing up, I didn't see a dentist from the ages of 12-24 and while my teeth held up cavity wise I missed a great deal of time in which they could have corrected my bite, my top jaw is smaller than my bottom, and not a single one of my teeth line up, my dentist is amased that I can even chew.. my teeth don't looked to badly out of line when you look at them (like when I smile) but I can feel it with my tounge.. my Mom thankfully got insurance before my little brothers palate had time to fuse and his (he had the same problem I do) was corrected with spacers, or stretchers or whatever they use to push the palate further apart to where it needs to be, and about 2 years of braces.. Me on the other hand need to go and have my palate broken, and my jaws wired together while it heals and then I don't know how many years of braces and probably at least 4 teeth extractions, its a lenghtly process that is costly near $40,000 and if I don't have it done at some point I will get TMJ... Insurance coverage will always be an issue, from all the insurance research I have done with both medical and dental they don't cover much of this type of procedures, most good dentists and ortho's have wonderful payment plans, and maybe for the time being it might not hurt to pick up secondary insurance.. to make your out of pocket a little smaller...

Gook luck in this process!!!


In my daughters case it was different. She doesn't have room for all of her teeth. When she was 8 her dentist try to put a spacer in 3 times but it would stay. He referred her to an ortho. The ortho also tried once and then decided that we would wait and watch for longer. Both the dentist and the ortho said that her teeth seem to move alot and she still had a lot of teeth to lose. At 8 she had only lost 4. Now 2 years later she still has many teeth to lose, I think she has lost 7 now. We go see the ortho every 6 months (at no cost). She says she will need braces but in her case it is best to wait until most or all of her teeth have fallen out. The ortho said her mouth is younger than her 10.5 years. My oldest had very crooked teeth but the ortho waited until she was 12. She is doing very well with it. My advice is for a second opinion and just releaze that spacers don't work for everyone. Also every childs mouth is different.

If there is not enough space for new teeth coming in already, then it is likely that your child will need orthodontia sooner or later. According to my ped dentist and orthodontist, the prevailing thought now is to get the teeth in place where they are supposed to be early, so that when additional teeth come in there is more room for them. (This is different than when I was a kid, where they waited for ALL your teeth to come in and THEN fixed them.) My son started his orthodontic treatment at 8. He is now 10, his braces are off and he wears a top and bottom retainer. He sees the ortho regularly for check ins, to see if more treatment is needed down the line. It was very expensive, and my dental plan covers no orthodontics at all, but the ortho put us on an affordable payment plan - and the results have been well worth it.

I think it's not a bad idea for you to get a second opinion, if it makes you feel better. Good luck.

If your instinct is bothering you then get another opinion however I will tell you my daughter who is almost 20 went thru what your daughter will go thru.As they are young and the teeth are coming back in they want to start them earlier I think when we were little they just put on those stainless steel bands for yeqrs tighten the wires and that was that but as they do studies it is more involved with jawline teeth placement etc. Go with your gut but since I experienced first hand and with different orthodontist ( i had moved)and the results were perfect straight teeth.



When I was told at 7 years old that my daughter neeeded braces, I questioned it as well. However we went ahead with treatment and she had 2 phases of braces starting in second grade and again in sixth grade. She got her braces off in time for graduation in 8th. I have to say that her teeth are absolutely beautiful. What we could see from the treatment was the first round of braces corrected the structural issues and the second did the actual straightening. When I look at pictures from before and after, I can't believe the difference. At the time when the first round went on, I didn't realize how much correction was needed. I just thought that she had a bit of an overbite. If they start when the child is younger they can get alot more movement in the bones and avoid pulling teeth. I don't know about you but as a child I had four teeth pulled before I had braces. With my daughter between spacers and the first round of braces they we able to make enough room for her adult teeth to come in correctly without having to pull any teeth. I know it is expensive, but I look at my daughter, who is now in high school, and I am really grateful that we were able to do it for her.

I took my eldest daughter when she was in 4th grade to have a consultation with an orthodontist. He recommended starting her on her first phase and then a second phase after that. She had some crowding mostly on the upper, but nothing really other than that. Because of the expense we decided to wait until all of her baby teeth were out and we would go from there. Now she is in the 6th grade and her teeth have straightened out enormously, to the point where she says that she doesn't want to get braces, she likes her smile the way it is. I am so thankful that we decided to wait. Her teeth are nice and straight and she has impecable oral hygiene. But the wonderful blessing that came out of this is that she herself is confident in herself to say that she doesn't need her teeth to be "perfect" in order for her to like her smile. Both myself and her father have not ever had orthodontic treatments and have wonderful teeth. If your gut is telling you to wait, then do just that.

Hi S..
If you are thinking that this is too much work needing to be done - you should get a second opinion.

When I was 8, I got braces on my top four front teeth. They had grown in accordion like. The braces were to straighten them out, I guess phase one. I got them off when I was 10 and then wore a retainer for a few years to help maintain the work of the braces until the next go round.
When I was 13, I had numerous teeth pulled and an eye tooth electrocuted to stop its growth. Then I had a full mouth of braces put on to adjust the spacing of my teeth and to pull down the eye tooth to where it was suppose to be.
Needless to say, I think that if my parents hadn't had all of the work done - I would have an ugly smile today. My teeth are straight and well spaced now.

So, I think, like I said before, that you should get a second opinion and you should also ask your daughter how she feels about her teeth now and if she wants to have all that work done.

I hope I was able to help you decide. Good luck.


Wow - you have a lot of responses! My teeth had gaps and one tooth jutted out. I was told braces etc. at my age was not a great idea because I may be more prone to cavities and that when my back teeth grew in it would change everything. I think I was ten..?

My teeth did move together and by pushing on my tooth with my thumb (advice from the dr.) it was in place in about 6 mo. No braces, no dental work , perfect teeth. I am 40 now and have never had a cavity.

I think every case is different and I bet if you tune into your mom instincts you are going to end up doing the right thing, I find instinct is almost always right. And getting a 2nd op. is not a bad idea either! Good luck!

Hi S.,

I know that it's very expensive to have braces, and it all can be very overwhelming. But realistically, they aren't going to start anything for almost 2 years, so she will be around 10, which is a completely normal age for braces nowadays. Then it actually takes awhile to do fancy xrays, impressions, spacers, etc..

When my son son had his braces put on, it actually took almost 8 months to physically put them on. They have ways of trying to get teeth straightened that they didn't use when we were kids. After about 4 months of using a "retainer thing", my son's top teeth were almost perfectly straight! He just got his actual braces on a couple of months ago, and we started this process last April. I cannot believe the difference, and neither can he.

Having a consultation is important because you want to get a feeling for trusting the Dr. So, if you are unhappy with your first consult, then get another one to satisfy yourself.

In my opinion, your decision to put braces on your daughter should be based on whether you can afford it or not. Not whether you want to see if her teeth can straighten on their own. You are her hope of getting her teeth straight. We cannot rely on "mother nature"....

Good Luck with your decisions....

~N. :o)

I was about 8-9 years old when I started with spacers. I have a small jaw and my teeth were coming in crooked because of the crowding. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I know I had some baby teeth pulled and spacers put in with the plan that it would allow adequate room for the permanent teeth. This was all done at that time because they could help the permanent teeth to come in straighter than they naturally would and this actually prevented me from needing braces. I had spacers for a couple years then a retainer for a couple years. Just my experience. I would always get a second opinion, especially for the expense they are talking about.

First thing - an initial consult with a orthodontist is free. So get a second and third opinion. We saw two orthodontist for 2 years (for free) because they had recommended a wait and see approach. Then we decided who we wanted to continue seeing for the work. We are paying $6500 for neck gear and braces. We paid $1800 down and $180 a month. Everything is covered. My daughter is 10 1/2 and today we're taking her to get her neck-gear and basically start her treatment. Definitely get a second opinion, get referrals from friends, and if that first orthodontist charged you for the visit let that be a tip off that they are not very honest. Good-luck!

I would get a 2nd opinion. I think a lot has to do with how her jaws are structured.

I had braces on my upper and lower front 4 teeth when I was 8yo after having baby teeth pulled. I had an under and cross bite, and simply too little space. I had my wisdom teeth pulled at 14, then had an upper expander (my top jaw was concaved) followed by full braces. Had a retainer after they were removed.

While my teeth are certainly much straighter than if no treatment was done, my teeth do not look like the years of braces ever happened. I refuse to show my teeth when smiling, they bother me so much. I feel like my parents wasted their money, tho they've never complained.

Good luck!

I too have large adult teeth and instead of early braces I had teeth pulled to make room for the incoming adult teeth. A few of the teeth were permenent teeth. I had braces put in when I was 12 and had them on for 18 months. I do know that at 8 baby teeth are still coming out and making room for adult teeth. I dont know if this helps but not everyone has braces that early.

Hi S.,

My little boy is only almost 2 so I can't comment on getting a child braces, but I can speak from the child's persepctive.

My view is that if she is going to need them, then get them asap. I didn't get my braces until I was 12 (almost 13) which meant that with 4 years of work to be done, I didn't get my braces off until I was nearly 17! It was horrible to be a girl in high school with braces. Most of my freinds had them when we were younger, but I slowly saw all of them get theirs removed (because they had started before me) and in the end I was the only metal mouth left. It was really hard.

If she needs them then start as soon as possible. She'll thank you for it.

Just my two cents. All the best, D.

HI S.,
yes, it is amazing how expensive orthodontic treatment costs. I was a dental assistant for 7 years before becoming a nurse and this is the typical course of treatment for a child. I would recommend you go have 2 or 3 second opinions from different orthodontists. these visits should be free. if they try to charge you for the consultation, walk away.
good luck

Have you tried calling Western Dental? I here they also do orthodontia and they allow you to make payments. I had severe crooked teeth and had to wear braces for 4 years, I'm so grateful to my parents for paying for them as it really helped my self esteam.

I'm a Registered Dental Assistant and I used to work for an orthodontist. I can tell you that orthos don't recommend the early phase treatments just to make money.

As the child ages, it gets harder to move teeth and change the jaw or palate to accept the adult teeth.

Early phase treatment can save you time and yes, even money as the 2nd phase should be much shorter.

There are two fairly inexpensive supplemental insurance plans that may help you-- Ameriplan and Aflac. I know that for Aflac you have to be on it for 6 months but I believe it can save you up to $1,000.

Also, if you have another consultation with a different ortho, it might be cheaper because I am assuming you have had all of the x-rays and impressions done.

Good luck to you.

I would be quite interested as well. I too have an 8 year old that needs back teeth pushed so that his adult molars can come in (what is it with this age?) and I am not sure what to do. I will be watching your responses and if anyone else has a suggestion, I would be happy to hear it.

We live in Boulder Creek (Santa Cruz Mountains) BTW and if there is an orthodontist anyone can recommend, that too would be welcome.

My daughter (8) just had spacers on the lower teeth put on. She's already had 2 teeth pulled because her mouth is so crowded. Right now, they are just trying to avoid having to pull any further teeth... making room so teeth can come in.

We too went to the ortho about 7 months ago and also received a treatment plan of "early ortho treatment", meaning braces. I declined. I figured her mouth has a great deal of changing that still needs to occur and we already know she's going to need braces. I don't see the point of putting braces on her now, only to have to do it again in 2-3 years. I told another mom at our school my decision and she said "Good! Don't do it!" She has older kids and gave one of the the "early treatment" and all it did was cost her more $$. She said just the once was all that was really needed.

And I don't know what your ortho told you, but it was presented to me like "it would be nice" but it certainly wasn't something that they felt had to happen for the sake of her teeth. So, I declined and we'll see what happens.

Good luck!

I think 8 is still too young to do phase I. I had Phase I done on my son when he was at the end of 6th grade only because he started to get self conscious about his teeth. We are done with phase I that I paid almost $4,ooo for out of pocket because our insurance didn't cover at the time. Now they want to start him on Phasae II and we now have coverage for $2,ooo lifetime, but the other $2,500 would be out of pocket.

At the time of Phase I, he still had baby teeth (late bloomer), so that is why they started with phase I. Because of the spacers and expanding his lower jaw, there was nothing to push out his baby teeth, so we had to take him to the dentist and have them pull out 3-4 teeth. He was 13 with baby teeth because his teeth were being expanded. (He jokingly asked if he was going to get paid from the tooth fairy for those ;)

I would wait as long as you can. I knew for a while that my son needed braces, but I waited until he was uncomfortable with his teeth and did for him at the time. Now we are getting ready to look for a place to do Phase II because I thought the last place was expensive, even though they do a lot of things for the patients, it's small when I have lots coming out of my pocket.

Good Luck!

Hi S.,

I too, have three kids, and all three kids are in an ortho phase. All three of my kids started at 8 years old. My oldest son is now 13 and in his second phase. His teeth are BEAUTIFUL! He just got a full mouth of braces for one year and then he is done. My second son who is almost 11 just got his top braces off. His teeth are the most remarkable...they were all so crowded that they were sideways. Now the top are perfectly straight and beautiful! The bottoms haven't corrected as quickly so he will still have lower braces for now with an upper retainer. He will need a second phase also. My daugther just turned 8 and started the first phase with an expander for 3 months and then she'll get a few braces on the top. We have a fantastic orthodontist who came HIGHLY recommeneded to us and from all the people that I have talked to (I was skeptical also with them starting at such a young age), they all recommeneded it. It is frustrating that insurance only pays $1500 lifetime per child...that is eaten up immediately. But they do allow you to make payments which is what I am doing with my oldests second phase right now. Good luck with your decision!

ABSOLUTELY get a second opinion! I did when my son was recomended to have a 3 stage treatment, he is now 27, beautiful teeth and never had braces. I realize he may be an exception, but it was well worth another opinion who recomended waiting till his jaw had matured reaching adult adult stature, and his teeth stopped shifting.

Best wishes.

I don't know about all this early ortho work. I see a lot of kids having it done, only to have things re-done later. I'd wait till middle school till you have it done.

Yikes! The cost is really something. Did either dentist tell you the downside of waiting a year or two?

My sister had all kinds of crooked teeth and they straightened out fine. My husband and I and our older son all had straight teeth - no problems. Our younger son, however, had quite the crooked mess and, like your daughter and my sister, has VERY BIG front teeth. We told the dentist that we wanted to wait and see what happened and in the year between his 8th & 9th birthdays his teeth straightened out a lot.

If postponing the orthodontia is an option that your family is comfortable with - I'd do it. If your dentist and orthodontist aren't able to accept your decision and can't give you good reasons to start now [and I don't mean threats about totally destroying her teeth, smile, self-confidence, dental health,] I'd shop for new oral health care professionals. And I'd take a lot of photos to celebrate her individuality.

Good luck!

Hi S.
My honest opinion is no, it is not worth the time,pain and especially the money. We already did it and made the mistake having to start over anyway. Until he lost his teeth. Eleven or Twelve seems to be the best and if you need a great ortho here in Pleasant Hill or concord let me know. Good luck
R., wife of 18 years mom of 2 teenage boys and one more on the way.

I'm sure every case is different, but at the time we were first referred to the orthodontist by our pediatric dentist (10 yo) there was no way we could afford to do the phase 1 treatment of spacers. We waited and it has actually worked in our favor...my son's teeth got much worse, but when we finally were able to afford the $100+ monthly payment, the orthodontist told us he would have to have an expander to widen the upper palate and our son would be put in braces right away and would only need to wear them for two years. The previous plan was two years with spacers and the expander and then two more years of braces.

I would pay for a second opinion before I went forward with 4+ years of orthodontia, especially considering how your teeth self corrected. I would wait at least two years and see how her face and jaw grows and explore it again when she is 10 yo unless she is really self consciuos and it is going to cause her emotional anguish.

PS: In using the palate expander, the orthodontist was able to avoid pulling any of my son's teeth. We are only halfway through the 2 year tretment and they are already gorgeous! He is now wearing the rubber bands to correct his bite. He thanks me all the time and cannot wait to get them off next January. It is worth it...just follow your instinct.


My 8 year also got spacers and braces in the bay area. She's now 16, and has been wearing a retainer ever since. She has not needed braces again, and her teeth came in really beautifully. She needed the spacers to give her teeth room to come in. (Her eye teeth were coming in way above the gum line). By doing that, we avoided extraction, which was our goal--a fuller smile is a more beautiful smile after all!

There are definitely pros and cons to going this route. First, to your point, you really don't know if she's going to need braces when she gets older, so you may have to pay for additional work when she gets older. Also, because she's 8, you're going to have to actually crank the spacer on her palate. (If it's the same kind of spacer we had). It is not pleasant, and it does hurt them, at least in the beginning. My daughter complained a lot when she first got it, because it's a fairly large piece of metal in the mouth. She did get used to it though. The braces really weren't that big of a deal. Another advantage of doing this is that they get the whole braces phase of their lives over early. Many of my daughters friends got braces for the first time in middle and high school, and they absolutely hated it--it was 'social suicide', according to my daughter. My daughter had already completed this 'rite of passage' before she hit puberty. She thanks us to this day, but again, we were lucky in that she didn't need braces again.

The main pro for us was that she didn't need to get any teeth pulled. It was clear that by the size of her teeth and the size of her mouth, that there was no way her teeth were going to fit. The spacers are a method to help size the mouth for the teeth, and in our case it worked with great results.

Good luck to you!

I can't really address the need for braces for an 8 year old, though I know many orthodontists treat in phases. I can, however address the need for correcting crooked teeth and over/cross bites. My parents felt it was unimportant for a girl to have straight teeth, so even after our dentist and an orthodontist recommended braces for me as a teen, they chose to leave them as nature intended. My upper front teeth formed a pie shaped wedge, all were too crowded and I had cross & over bites as well. I was always conscious of my less than pretty smile, which affects self esteem, but more than that, as a result of the cross/over bites, I started having issues with my teeth at age 28. Two molars broke while eating french bread on two different occasions, several other teeth became traumatized requiring root canals. After spending over $20,000 for root canals and crowns over the course of two years, I had braces put on. I went to an orthodontist recommended by a co-worker. My oldest son and I treated at the same time with this doctor. My son's teeth corrected in 2 1/2 years and still look pretty good today (he's 35 now). This doctor finally took mine off after 5 years and told me it was as good as he could get them. I still had a pie wedge in my front teeth and was less than happy after spending $3000 with this guy. During the 3 months the braces were off, I damaged two more molars. Because my teeth were still misaligned, the chewing surface wore completely flat, requiring crowns over both teeth so I could properly chew. My dentist sent me to Dr. Gum in San Jose. He took a 3D set of full head x-rays and I began treatment again. As it turns out, my first orthodontist did not have the expertise to deal with my particular complicated case, which normally in the 1960's would have been corrected surgically. Doctor #1 gave me a 50% refund when I went back to him armed with new knowledge from my dentist and Dr. Gum. My second course of treatment was $3500 and took another 5 years. I went through this stage with my middle and youngest children. Their teeth still look great today, as do mine. My braces came off at age 40 and still look great today at age 57. I wear a retainer every night to protect the work that has been done. My point here is that 1) get a really good orthodontist. Check with your county's professional orthodontic counsil. Ask your dentist for a referral. Make sure the one you choose can handle your child's particular case. 2) Don't wait if professionals say to start corrective work now. My parents had spent a lot of money on both my brothers' teeth and somehow thought mine were not so bad (mine looked better than my brothers', but looks don't give the whole picture). In the end, had I had corrective work done as a teen, I would have saved about $40,000 in necessary dental work required to save my teeth. Also, it's less expensive to treat kids. Adult orthodontics is more difficult and can be a lot more expensive. I'm sorry this is so long, but wanted to give you something to think about. Get more than one opinion, but make sure the opinions you get a qualified opinions. All orthodontists are not created equal.
Good Luck!

When I was a child I was told that I would need braces. This was before all the adult teeth came in. My Dad told them we would wait until my adult teeth came in and then talk about it. And sure enough they fixed themselves.

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