Braces & Orthodontics

Do All of My Baby Teeth Have to Fall Out Before I Get Braces?

There is no harm in seeing an orthodontist too early but there is a lot of harm in seeing one too late.

by Dr. Burhenne

Losing Baby Teeth: Are Red Spots On The Gums Normal?

Hi, I am getting braces soon, and I was wondering, do ALL your teeth have to have fallen out for you to get them?

A: Great question, Brooke. Please don’t wait until all your baby teeth fall out because chances are you will have missed out on the best time for fixing your bite.

These days, the better approach involves two phases of straightening the teeth. I typically refer my younger patients to my orthodontist by age 8. There is no harm in seeing an orthodontist too early but there is a lot of harm in seeing one too late.

By age 8, it may be too early for actually having treatment but it’s not too early to determine the correct treatment plan over these transitional years of the your changing teeth. This “changing” is the time when the adult teeth are coming in and the baby teeth are falling out at the same time.

What your orthodontist will be considering is the growth of your jawbones. For example, is the lower jaw bone keeping up with the upper jaw bone in terms of growth? Often times, one jaw bone will grow faster than the other and early detection and treatment of this situation will lead to a better result than if treated later when all the adult teeth have grown in.

When both jawbones are correctly aligned, there is less movement of the teeth needed, which means a shorter treatment time and lower chance of relapse. That is why you have two phases of straightening the teeth.

Worst case scenario is that the orthodontist will see you, see that the jawbones are growing in harmony, and he or she will put you on a schedule and call you back at the appropriate time. This will give you peace of mind that you won’t miss that optimal window for fixing your bite.

By making sure that the upper and lower jaw bone grow in a balanced way, the second phase of braces a simpler and shorter process with less chance of relapse in the future. Relapse is when the teeth go back to their original crowded position as you grow into an adult. Not a good thing, Brooke, since most parents have their grown up children pay the second time around!

In other words, phase one of braces allows for the correct amount of space in the mouth for the incoming adult teeth so that when they do come in, they have room to be in the proper position. This makes phase 2 a simpler and shorter process since the upper and lower jawbones are correctly aligned.

The way I explain this to my patients is like this: Picture building a rocket and flying to the moon. Mapping out your flight plan in the very beginning will determine whether or not you have a moon to land on. Good phase 1 treatment will determine a successful moon-landing at phase 2 because you will have timed everything properly. Once you launch that rocket, there’s no changing the flight plan until you’ve completed your trip. Determine your flight plan by age 8 or 9 to guarantee a successful moon landing by age 12 or 13.

Do not wait until all your baby teeth have fallen out because you may have missed your launch window.

Mark Burhenne DDS

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS


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  1. Good tips. I had no idea that kids could see an orthodontist as early as eight. Something for all parents to keep in mind. Thanks!

    • Hi, my mom says the tooth I just lost in the back (the first moler) tooth) she says that I have to wait till that tooth is grown out and me and my family just moved out here so I was wondering if that was true.

  2. Our family orthodontist has “mapped out a flight plan,” as you suggest, for my two sons, but what is a good way to make sure that my orthodontist has chosen the correct plan?

    • Jonathan, great question. Get two or three different opinions from different orthodontists and have each explain their rationale. I will answer this question in more detail with a new post in the future.

      Mark Burhenne DDS

  3. Hi I’m 12 nearly 13 I’m march I am going to the orthodontist what will they do fully before I get my braces fully fitted?.

  4. first what they will do is they will clean your teeth, then they will look at them and detirmine if u need them ,if u need them and u dont have all your permanent teeth it depends on what orthadontist you see some of them will pull them out or wait until there all out or they’ll just put the braces on even though if u still have some of your baby teeth.. like i said it depends on who you see, and i want to let you know they are really expensive but if you have a certain type of insurance like health insurance then they’ll take it and you wont have to pay like $6,000 thats how much one of my friends had to pay but i had health insurance so i didnt need to pay.. i hope this helps and it might have been a little bit to much imfo but im sure it will help..THANK YOU!!

  5. I’m getting my braces on in 3 days and I still have on baby tooth that’s loose. I was wondering if I can get my braces on while having that baby tooth?

    • You definitely can get your braces but chances are, you may have to get the tooth removed. It really depends on your orthodontist and what they want to do. I am also getting braces and I have a few baby teeth left. I think they might remove the teeth or just leave them how they are and put on the braces anyway.

  6. I’m going to a orthodontist tomorrow morning it’s called Nolan because my family think I need them but I still have a lot of baby teeth I’m 11 what do u think they will do do I have to wait or can I get them with them on what’s the best thing to do?

    • Ello c;
      I am getting braces tomorrow however my mom and sisters have had braces and told me stuff
      It really doesn’t matter because teeth Will grow in and out as they come your fine just like me I am 11 too.

  7. I am 11 and I was wondering if I can have braces because not all my baby teeth fell out and how do you get braces where do you go and what do you say or do??

  8. I am 11 and I was wondering if I can have braces because not all my baby teeth fell out and how do you get braces where do you go and what do you say or do??

  9. I am a preteen. My teeth are horrible and are getting worse, I am getting red bumps on my gums and my jaw is really tiny… One baby has a bigger jaw than me which I consider bad. I have to lose 10 more baby teeth for a mouth full of adult teeth. I am afraid I may even grow more than 1 teeth in one spot… My teeth are slanted. Should I get an expander and braces. My dentist was saying I need to lose more teeth but I have been waiting for a really long time and they have been getting worse. What to do?

  10. Hi I’m 13 and I only have 3 more baby teeth, my dentist says that when those 3 teeth fall out and grow in I will be ready for braces but I feel thats too late. So my question is do all your baby teeth have to fall out to have braces? ( Theres nothing wrong with my bite)

  11. hi, im 13 I was wondering if you can still get braces if you have 3 more baby teeth to lose. I am scared of getting my teeth pulled and I have about 5 or 6 crooked teeth. although there’s a problem. instead of coming right out my teeth stay in and my molars just sit there and rot. its so gross. my baby teeth are the top front canines and the rotting one is my top left molar 2 teeth behind my left canine

  12. Hi, I am 12 years old and I have a lot of baby teeth in the back of my mouth, so are the dentist people allowed to put braces on the baby teeth.

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