Brace yourself: A dentist shares expert advice on kids’ braces

A confident smile is one of the best gifts you can give your child – but it comes at a price. While braces for kids are becoming increasingly common, they are also expensive. The costs of braces can vary considerably according to the treatment plan for your child. 

Dentist and founder of iDENTAL Dr Giulia D’Anna says: “Ultimately, the choice of orthodontic treatment depends on factors such as the severity of misalignment, personal preferences, and lifestyle considerations.”

“Your dental professional will be able to guide you to a straighter smile!” she adds.

What are the benefits of braces?

While it’s crucial to teach kids the importance of good oral hygiene, their dental health may be significantly enhanced by having braces. Straight teeth are easier to clean, reducing the risk of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. What’s more, when teeth are properly aligned, chewing forces are evenly distributed to prevent premature tooth wear.

As Dr D’Anna explains, if your child has crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, they may experience physical discomfort. Braces can also improve bite function, leading to improved chewing and alleviating any jaw pain caused by an overbite or underbite. Some children even have speech issues when their teeth are out of place – which can be fixed by wearing braces.

Orthodontic treatment can be an investment for life. It not only gives your child more confidence in their smile and higher self-esteem about their overall appearance but ensures that their teeth and gums remain healthy for many years ahead. By getting treatment sooner rather than later, it could also save you money down the track, as your child’s teeth and jaw problems may get worse, if left untreated.

Does my child need braces?

As Dr D’Anna shared, these days, braces have become a socially accepted form of orthodontic treatment. There are many reasons why kids might need braces, including:

  • overcrowded or crooked teeth
  • spaces or gaps between adult teeth
  • issues with chewing or biting food
  • teeth that don’t meet properly
  • prolonged thumb sucking
  • breathing through their mouth
  • jaws that protrude or recede
  • problems with speech
  • constant mouth or jaw pain

When should you contact an orthodontist?

If your child is experiencing any of the issues listed above, you should first see a dentist who can decide whether to refer you to an orthodontist. While braces are popular among pre-teens and teenagers, there is no set at age at which a child can first visit an orthodontist

Making an early appointment can give your orthodontist time to monitor dental complications as they develop. Some orthodontists even recommend starting visits as early as age seven, even though the child won’t be able to have braces until they’ve lost all their baby teeth. 

During the initial consultation, the orthodontist will take X-rays of the mouth and teeth to determine different treatment options and how long your child will need braces for.

What are the different types of braces?

According to Dr D’Anna, orthodontic treatment is no longer just about traditional brackets and wires – although these are still used to make minute (as in very small) as well as advanced movement of teeth. 

“Giving the dentist or orthodontist complete control over each tooth to advance the teeth to the new desired position, this type of treatment can be used for both short and long-term treatment,” she says.

However, clear aligners are now the most common technique for aligning teeth, with various brands available – such as Spark, Invisalign, and Clear Correct. 

“All use a series of clear aligner trays to gently move teeth into a better position. These systems rely on you to wear the aligners 22 hours a day, removing them to brush your teeth and to eat,” Dr D’Anna explains.

For younger, growing kids, there are also two options for correcting bone growth and tooth positions that can be detrimental in the early years. 

“These systems, which include Myobrace and Invisalign First, are aimed at correcting early problems to improve speech and facial development,” Dr D’Anna says.

What are the costs of braces in 2024?

The biggest question that parents often ask themselves is – how much do braces cost? The cost of braces will depend on your child’s individual treatment plan, but on average can easily add up to the thousands. Dr D’Anna estimates that traditional brackets and wires will balance out at around $8,000. For clear aligners, there is a broad range of prices given the duration and complexity of treatment. 

“Cost varies from simpler treatment moving just a tooth or two into alignment at around $2,000 or more to a complete smile realignment which is around $10,000,” Dr D’Anna says. 

Alternative treatments to braces for little children might be roughly $1,800.

Because of the variability of the treatment, you won’t know the full cost of your kid’s braces until after your initial consultation. 

However, it’s important to note that these fees are all-inclusive – covering everything from the initial fitting of the braces right through to their removal and post-treatment. Emergency appointments are rare, but these may cost extra.

Once the braces are fitted, your child will need to visit the orthodontist regularly to check the braces are working correctly and make any necessary adjustments. These appointments may be as often as every six weeks, all of which is included in your treatment price.

And the orthodontic journey doesn’t end when the braces come off. The follow-up treatment typically involves fitting your child with retainers to make sure their teeth stay put and don’t move back to their initial positions, as Dr D’Anna explained.

They might even have to wear these retainers for two to three years, going back to visit the orthodontist every few months – but the good news is this is usually part of the original fee as well.

Protect your kids’ smile  

Orthodontic treatment isn’t covered by Medicare but some orthodontists will offer a payment plan so you’re not having to fork out everything upfront. 

Having the appropriate level of health insurance in place can also assist in children's dental health being well taken care of. Depending on your health insurance plan and the extras cover you’ve opted for, you may also be entitled to claim a portion of the costs of dental work. Learn more about Real Health Insurance and get a quote today.

Dr Giulia D'Anna author photo

Dr Giulia D'Anna

Dentist and founder of iDENTAL

Dr Giulia D'Anna graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1996 and started he own dental practice in 1998. Dr. D'Anna is a member of the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons. She has also lectured both in Australia and internationally. She is committed to education and sharing her knowledge and ethical approach in both the Medical and Dental divisions.

 Information is general and not intended as a substitute for professional advice.