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.

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