Updated on February 1, 2024
6 min read

What Are the Best Braces for Kids?

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Braces are the key to a straighter smile for many children. For this reason, many parents have questions about orthodontic treatment.

Shot of male kid looking down with colorful braces lit up by light

This article answers your questions about children’s braces, including:

  • What are the pros and cons of different types of braces?
  • How much do braces cost?
  • What are the benefits of getting braces as a kid?

5 Types of Braces for Kids

Here are the most common types of kids’ braces:

1. Traditional Metal Braces

These braces are the most common type of orthodontic treatment and are usually the least expensive option. Metal braces are often made from stainless steel or titanium.

They apply pressure to the teeth with a series of metal brackets attached to an archwire. Metal braces use elastic bands called ligatures to secure each bracket to the archwire. These ligatures may be separate o-rings or come linked together as power chains.

Treatment time can vary from 6 months to over 2.5 years, depending on your child’s needs.


  • Most readily available option
  • Highly effective at aligning and repositioning teeth
  • Durable
  • Multiple options for elastic ligatures


  • Highly visible
  • Can be challenging to keep clean
  • Nickel in stainless steel can cause allergic reactions

2. Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are similar to traditional braces but don’t require ligatures. This is because the brackets are designed to stay attached to the archwire by themselves.

Treatment length is similar to traditional braces. It may be shorter or longer depending on the teeth involved.


  • Shorter appointment lengths since there are no ligatures to replace
  • Possibly more comfortable than traditional braces
  • Easier to clean due to lack of ligatures


  • Just as visible as traditional braces
  • Allergic reactions to nickel are still possible

3. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are placed behind the teeth rather than in front, making them less visible. Otherwise, they work the same way as conventional braces.

Closeup shot of lingual braces

Treatment time for lingual braces is comparable to traditional braces, but it may take longer in some cases.


  • Least visible of any metal braces
  • May be more comfortable for the lips 


  • Harder to keep clean
  • Potential for tongue irritation or for the tongue to be caught in a bracket
  • More expensive than traditional braces
  • May require longer treatment time

4. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces, also called clear or invisible braces, feature brackets made of ceramic rather than metal. This material is generally transparent or colored to match the teeth.

Side view picture of womans smile with clear dental braces on

Ceramic braces don’t move teeth as quickly as metal braces. They may also require replacement due to breakage. For these reasons, treatment time may take longer.


  • Less visible than metal braces
  • Less allergenic than metal braces
  • Wide variety of colors


  • Break more easily than metal braces and can break when being removed
  • Take longer than metal braces
  • More expensive

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5. Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are thin plastic trays that fit over the teeth. They offer a less invasive alternative to metal and ceramic braces, though they vary in quality.

Invisalign is a popular clear aligner brand. They may be an alternative to braces if your child only needs minor corrections.

Treatment time is often between 1 year and 18 months. This makes clear aligners a potentially faster alternative to conventional braces. This is because clear aligners are only used to treat mild problems.


  • Virtually invisible
  • Easy to remove and clean
  • Shorter treatment time in many cases


  • More upkeep required
  • Can be accidentally thrown away or lost because they are not fixed in the mouth
  • Unsuitable for severe malocclusions

How Much Do Braces Cost for Kids?

The cost of braces varies depending on the type and material and your child’s needs. 

The following are general estimates of how much braces cost:10,11

Traditional$4,000 to $7,000
Self-Ligating$4,000 to $7,000 (comparable to traditional; may be slightly more)
Lingual$6,000 to $10,000
Ceramic$4,500 to $8,000
Clear Aligners$3,000 to $9,000 (varies widely by brand)

Does Insurance Cover Braces?

Dental insurance may cover the cost of orthodontic treatment up to a certain amount. Policies differ, and there may be a yearly or lifetime maximum or an age requirement.

How to Make Kids’ Braces More Affordable

There are many ways to save money on your child’s braces or make paying for them less overwhelming. Ways to make braces more affordable include:

  • Ask your orthodontist about flexible payment plans
  • Ask about discounts for paying the total cost up front
  • Call dental schools to see if they offer treatment by students in training
  • Apply for financial aid through programs like Smiles Change Lives

At What Age Can Kids Get Braces?

Most kids get braces between ages 10 and 14. This is when they’ve lost all their baby teeth and when most adult teeth have grown in. It’s also easier to create a healthy smile with braces before the jawbone finishes developing around age 12.

In some cases, children start wearing braces as young as 7 or 8. The best age to start depends on many factors, including your child’s oral health and how their adult teeth are coming in.

When Should a Child Visit an Orthodontist?

Orthodontists recommend that children have their first orthodontic checkup between 6 and 8.3,4 

Depending on your child’s needs, the orthodontist may recommend a waiting period before they start treatment. Identifying the problem at a young age ensures the most effective treatment.

How to Tell if Your Child Needs Braces

Your child may need braces if they suffer from malocclusion, which is a misalignment of the teeth, jaws, or both.

Signs your child may need to wear braces include:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Visibly crooked or misaligned teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Crowded teeth
  • Trouble making certain speech sounds
  • Teeth that don’t meet when the mouth is closed (open bite)
  • Habits such as thumb or finger sucking or mouth breathing
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)

A pediatric or general dentist may refer you to an orthodontist if they think your child needs braces. Ultimately, the orthodontist will determine whether your child needs treatment and what type.

Benefits of Braces for Kids

Orthodontic treatment is easier for children and adolescents than for adults. This is because the pressure applied by braces works better when the jaw bone is still developing.1

It’s easier for braces to guide permanent teeth into proper alignment when the body is growing and the teeth are already shifting.4,6

Adults are more likely to have denser bone and age-related tooth problems, making treatment even more difficult.

Orthodontic treatment times for children and adults don’t usually differ much, but children and adults may have different orthodontic needs that determine treatment length.8,9

What to Expect During an Orthodontic Consultation 

During your first appointment, the orthodontist will examine your child’s teeth and jaws to determine whether braces are warranted. The exam may include:

  • Observing your child’s teeth as they bite down
  • Asking questions about whether your child has difficulty chewing or speaking
  • Taking X-rays to evaluate tooth position

If the orthodontist determines that braces (or clear aligners) are suitable for your child, they will take dental impressions. 


Orthodontic braces are often recommended for kids either before or in early puberty. This is because teeth are generally easier to move into alignment before they’ve settled into their permanent positions.

Several kinds of braces are available. Schedule a consultation with an orthodontist to determine which option is best for your child.

Last updated on February 1, 2024
11 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 1, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Jeelani, W, et al. “The duration of pubertal growth peak among three skeletal classes.” Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, 2016.
  2. Braces.” American Dental Association, 2023.
  3. Child Orthodontics.” American Association of Orthodontists, 2023.
  4. Pietilä, I, et al. “Orthodontists’ views on indications for and timing of orthodontic treatment in Finnish public oral health care.” European Journal of Orthodontics, 2008.
  5. Jawad, Z, et al. “Who needs orthodontic treatment? Who gets it? And who wants it?” British Dental Journal, 2015.
  6. Väkiparta, MK, et al. “Orthodontic Treatment Need from Eight to 12 Years of Age in an Early Treatment Oriented Public Health Care System: A Prospective Study.” The Angle Orthodontist, 2005.
  7. Meyer-Marcotty, P, et al. “The adult orthodontic patient over 40 years of age: association between periodontal bone loss, incisor irregularity, and increased orthodontic treatment need.” Clinical Oral Investigations, 2021.
  8. Abbing, A, et al. “Duration of orthodontic treatment with fixed appliances in adolescents and adults: a systematic review with meta-analysis.” Progress in Orthodontics, 2020.
  9. Dyer, GS, et al. “Age effects on orthodontic treatment: Adolescents contrasted with adults.” American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, 1991.
  10. LaPonsie, M. “The Average Cost of Braces and How to Save.” US News, 2022.
  11. Self-Ligating Braces vs Metal Braces: Cost, Pros & Cons, Pictures, FAQs.” Diamond Braces, 2022.
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