Kids still getting visits from the Tooth Fairy are getting braces.
The number of children 17 and younger getting orthodontic treatment has grown 46% over the past decade to 3.8 million in 2008, the latest figure available from the American Association of Orthodontists. The association doesn’t break the number down further by age, but Lee W. Graber, the Association’s president, estimates that in his own practice 15% to 20% of the 7- to 10-year-olds he sees get treatment.
Parents’ hope is that the more early treatment a child gets–that is, before all the adult teeth have come in–the less treatment the child will need later on. While that’s true in some cases, what many parents don’t realize is that for some of the most common orthodontic problems, early treatment offers no guarantees against a second round of treatment in the teenage years and may not save time or money.