The ideal time to begin orthodontic treatment—if necessary—is between the ages of 10 and 14. This time period is optimal, because the head and jaw bones are still developing. Orthodontic treatment will work with your child’s natural development.
Right in the center of that period (10 to 14) is year 12. This year is a developmental milestone! Around age 12, the 12-year molars (or second molars) are erupting. They may begin erupting around age 11 or 13; every child develops at a unique rate.
Caring for the 12 year molars is a fundamental part of creating a beautiful, healthy, strong smile that gives your child confidence for years to come! So how do the second molars affect orthodontic treatment? Can you get braces before the molars fully emerge? Here’s what you need to know.
Can you get braces on 12 year molars?
Yes, you can get braces on 12 year molars. These molars are permanent; they won’t shed!
It’s best that we wait until the molars have at least partially erupted to begin treatment with braces. That’s because the molars can have a significant impact on the rest of the teeth. They may be larger than expected, smaller than expected, or they may erupt at an angle.
If the 12 year molars are relatively large, as they’re erupting and searching for sufficient space in the mouth, they may push the surrounding teeth out of the way. This can cause teeth to become crooked or crowded.
On the other hand, if the molars develop in a healthy alignment, they may fill surrounding gaps or spacing between other teeth as they push teeth toward each other.
This is why we put braces on as the 12 year molars are erupting, so we have a clear picture of their size and how they’ll align or impact the rest of the teeth.
12 Year Molars Pain
Unfortunately, some discomfort is normal and inevitable when the 12 year molars are erupting. But if the molars grow in misalignment or there isn’t enough room for them to fully develop, this growth process can be quite painful. When the molars grow in misalignment, this is called impaction. Impaction is relatively common when the second molars are emerging, and especially when the wisdom teeth are emerging.
Because the mouth is already full of emerged teeth, if there isn’t sufficient room for the molars to develop, they’ll erupt sideways or almost perpendicular to the first molars. This is just as painful as it sounds!
Depending on how far the molars have developed by the time your child visits us, we may suggest a full treatment of braces or Invisalign®. Starting treatment before the 12 year molars have completely emerged can prevent pain and discomfort as well as damage to the other teeth.
When the 12 year molars grow in crooked, this can cause other problematic conditions, including TMJ disorder. This condition affects the temporomandibular joint (hence TMJ). The TMJ is the joint that connects the jaws to the skull. When crooked 12 year molars are left untreated, they can cause TMJ disorder, which can cause further pain and discomfort in the jaws, difficulty chewing, and clicking/locking when opening and closing the mouth.
To prevent the notorious 12 year molar pain and the problematic conditions that can quickly arise when the 12 year molars are emerging, we encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation for your child!
The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) advises that children receive their first orthodontic exam around age 7. This doesn’t mean that treatment will begin at this age. An early screening enables us to monitor your child’s development to ensure that the teeth and jaw bones are growing properly and healthily!
If your child hasn’t received his or her first exam yet, get started with us today.
We are a leading orthodontist in Florida with 8 convenient locations in Northwest Florida!