Win FREE Kids Braces! Plus Learn What They Cost, When to Start & 5 Things to Look for When Choosing and Orthodontist

kids braces

Modern Kids Braces

Here for the Braces Giveaway?

Read on… you’ll find the giveaway further down in this article.

This giveaway is closed. Congrats to the winner, Sarah!

I wish I had started my kids’ braces/orthodontic treatments much sooner. So much has changed in the world of kids’ braces.

When I became a parent I had no idea how important caring for teeth would be. As I raised six kids I was constantly wondering, “are they clean? Loose? Is it a Tooth Fairy night again? How many cavities can one child have in his baby teeth exactly?”

There is more to dental care than brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist. I was so ignorant about helping my kids grow a permanent, healthy smile through braces until we began the journey.

I didn’t know that you could start orthodontia so young.

Now that my kids have run the gamut of dental issues, from crowding to strange teeth placements to jaw issues, I’ve learned that kids braces help people of many ages.

In this article, we’re going to cover some of the most-asked questions when it comes to deciding on kids braces: How do I choose an ortho? When should my kid start braces? How much do braces cost? Read on – the information is broken into sections to help you sort it all out.

To get a professional perspective, we also checked in with Dr. Kevin Knapp of Knapp Orthodontists in Byron Center, MI. He shared insightful tips to keep in mind when planning kids braces.

This article was written in partnership with Knapp Orthodontics.
Knapp Orthodontics specializes in comprehensive orthodontic care for all ages in Byron Center. Dr. Kevin Knapp is an Orthodontic Specialist. Their centrally located office is between the Byron Center Public and Private schools, making it easily accessible day and night.

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At What Age Should Kids Get Braces?

Kids are Getting Braces by Age 8 or 9, and It’s Completely Normal

Do you remember the days when braces were a teenager’s right of passage?

When we were growing up, we got our metal mouths in high school.  So why all the grade school kids in braces these days?


Dr. Knapp says that age 8 is the sweet spot because it’s the time between when children lose their baby teeth and get their permanent teeth. Tooth and jaw problems are also more easily assessed at this time.

If your dentist encouraged you to get an orthodontist consultation for your 8-year-old, the message is getting out. Starting kids braces earlier could save you money and help you avoid more extensive ortho treatments later.

This is a prime time to bring your child in for their first ortho consult.

Dr. Knapp says treating a child at age 8 or 9 lets an orthodontist prevent problems before they appear outwardly.

“Of course, we are interested in where the teeth end up, but we are also interested in measuring jaw growth and development over these critical ages to make sure the child doesn’t end up with a big underbite or a really big overbite.

PHAse 1 orthodontics

If kids come for a consult before all of their permanent teeth have erupted (around age 8) the orthodontist will have an option to do what is typically referred to as “Phase 1” orthodontic treatment.

In Phase 1 Orthodontists, a child’s jaw is expanded to allow permanent teeth to erupt in optimal positions. This process can often shorten the length of time needed for braces treatment and it’s less intrusive.

Dr. Knapp likes to call Phase 1 treatments interceptive treatments because a child may or may not need more than one Phase of orthodontics. The word “phase” implies there will be multiple phases and that’s not always the case.

“Not all children need a first, or interceptive, phase of treatment, but it is very important that those who do receive treatment,” says Dr. Knapp.

Knapp Orthodontics kid with braces

How Do Kids Braces Work These Days?

Get ready for a whole new experience

The methods used today to straighten teeth and correct alignment issues are very different than what most parents experienced.

TODAY, THERE ARE Many Choices for KIDS Braces

Clear aligners, like Invisalign, are now options for people wanting straighter teeth. Technology has made old methods obsolete.

We now have clear braces in addition to traditional metal braces. (Today’s metal braces are smaller and smoother than they used to be.)

Dr. Knapp offers clear braces (they are practically unnoticeable). His strategy, when applying kids braces, is to put the upper braces on first. This helps with patient comfort because suddenly having a full mouth of braces can be disconcerting. Kids getting used to braces often bite the bottom braces, breaking brackets.

For this reason, he puts the bottom braces on 2 to 3 months into the treatment. All of the braces will come off at the same time.

Bonus: While many orthodontists charge more for clear braces, Dr. Knapp does not. Be sure to ask your provider about fees associated with clear braces. 


Sometimes a child’s jaw isn’t wide enough to accommodate adult teeth and needs a little help in expanding.

In this case, an orthodontist may recommend your child wear a rapid palatal expander.

Expanders create more space in the mouth, leaving room for the adult teeth to erupt.

Expanders are attached to the roof of the mouth, widening the jaw in small increments every day.

The expander helps prevent the need for any teeth pulling or corrective surgery. The device works rather quickly and is only used for about a month.

After an expander has been used, the mouth is usually given time to grow before braces are applied.

New Options for Retainers

If left to their own devices, teeth treated with braces will shift position over time. To hold the position that you’ve worked so hard for, teeth will need to be held in place.  

Enter the retainer.

“We think of the bone as this strong, stable object, but it is actually continuously regenerating,” explains Dr. Knapp. 

“When the bone regenerates, that tooth is going to shift a little. We recommend for every patient, no matter how old they are, to have and use their retainer.”

Most orthodontists now use clear retainers. They are great because they’re easily replaced if lost using the 3D technology used to make them in the first place.

Clear retainers offer 360 degrees of coverage as opposed to the “old-fashioned” metal bar retainer which allowed some shifting.

Figuring out who will be taking care of the kids braces in your family is a multi-step process (see tips for choosing an orthodontist here).

It’s recommended that you make appointments with several orthodontists for a consultation. You’ll come away with the doctor’s treatment plan, a price for treatment, and a good idea of how that office operates.

Orthodontic offices are not all the same. Treatment styles, appointment processes, and office vibe vary greatly from one practice to another.

Be sure to ask if there is a fee for a consultation.

Some offices will require an upfront fee for the consult that could be applied to treatment should you decide to use their services. Many orthodontists in the area offer free consultations and are used to people shopping around when it comes to selecting an ortho. If the office makes you feel uncomfortable during the consultation process, that is good information to take into account.

Dr. Knapp recommends families go to consultations with different orthodontists to understand their different options for kids braces because it’s important to educate yourself on the current orthodontic methods as well as the different styles of orthodontists.

“I love it when someone comes in here and we are the second or third consult, because I know they are serious about their orthodontic treatment, and they’ve taken the time to look into it.”

What Happens at the Consultation?

Note: These appointments are often quite lengthy.

At the consultation, the orthodontist will take x-rays and a series of photos. They will also perform an oral evaluation.

Once the orthodontist sees what’s going on inside of the patient’s mouth, they will make a treatment plan recommendation.

It is now standard to use digital x-ray machines, which use less than half the radiation of non-digital and give much better detail and more information than the older machines.

(Sidenote: 3D oral scanning has taken the place of impressions. That means the gooey mess they used in the past to make a model of your mouth is gone!)

Knapp Orthodontics 360
A Patient Being Examined at Dr. Knapp’s Office in Byron Center, MI

Most offices have treatment specialists that will take you to a private room to go over the doctor’s assessment, recommendations for kids braces, and pricing for treatment.

You should feel comfortable asking questions at this point in the process. Discuss payment plans and insurance at this time. You should not feel pressured to sign up on the spot.

Ask questions about the treatment plan that will help you decide if the treatment will be effective for your child. For example, Invisalign clear aligners require patients to voluntarily place trays in their mouths on a daily basis, for about 22 hours a day. Some kids and teens will have a very difficult time remembering to do this or complying with treatment, especially kids with ADHD or other neurodivergencies.

Your orthodontist should inquire about the patient’s medical history and habits before deciding on a plan of treatment.

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation at Knapp Orthodontics

At Knapp Orthodontics they always have complimentary consultations so that every family can learn about what it takes for their child to have a confident smile and healthy bite. Parents can schedule a complimentary consult online here or by calling 616-277-1938.

If you are going to multiple consults for kids braces (recommended), you will have a lot of information to remember from each evaluation. And, there may be large gaps of time between your different consults. It can be hard to keep offices and treatment plans separated in your mind.

After each consult, take a moment to jot down notes on a form like this (click the image to download and use it yourself).

Add the notes to the folder of information you’re given at each consult that you attend and use it to help you make a final decision.

kids braces ortho consult evaluation
Click Image for Printable PDF

Choosing an Orthodontist: 5 Things to Look For

Sooner or later, many parents hit the milestone of paying for a kids braces. Now comes the tricky task of finding the best orthodontist for your family. 

After getting three of my kids braces (and am about to start with a fourth), I know a thing or two about what makes a good orthodontist.  

When you’re investing in something as important as orthodontics, it’s important to find someone you can trust your child’s teeth (and face) to. You want someone reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable.


Research: Is the Doctor a Member of the American Association of Orthodontics?

Yes, it’s a mouthful but this simple step will help you see who has the qualifications to work on kids braces in your area.

Not all dentists who work with kids braces are orthodontists.

Dr. Knapp says orthodontists have an additional two to three years of training and licensing to become orthodontic specialists.

Check the status of local orthodontists here: American Association of Orthodontics

What is the difference between an orthodonist and a dentist?

Dentists are doctors of oral health. They are specialists that broadly deal with teeth, gum, nerves and jaw.

Orthodontists are dentists with additional specialty training.

This extra training allows them to claim the title “Orthodontist” and assures that their practice will be advanced when it comes to treating misaligned teeth, crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, and other problems of the jaw. In short, Orthodontists use kids braces to engineer smiles.


Look for An Orthodontist That Works Well With Your Family

There should be good communication directly between the orthodontist and the parent. A child should never be expected to relay information to the parent.

“We always communicate what was done at each appointment and what is planned for the next appointment, even if it is as simple as changing a wire and talking about rubber bands. That brief interaction is important.”

A likable, professional presence throughout your child’s treatment makes having braces much more pleasant.


Location is Important, to a Point

Finding an office with a convenient location is important since you will be traveling there every four to six weeks.

However, the closest orthodontist won’t necessarily be the best fit for you, so decide how important close proximity is before choosing an orthodontist.


Look for a Clean, Modern Office With a Practical View of Technology

Think twice before using an orthodontist who is an early technology adopter.

You don’t want to be the patient getting everything new tried out on you.

Look for an orthodontist with a good balance of using proven methods while also looking forward to the newest technology.

“Modern, up-to-date practices will have digital x-ray and 3-D digital impressions. These technologies have proven themselves,” says Dr. Knapp.


Look for an Orthodontist Who Cares About Giving You a Good Experience

Dr. Knapp has a unique way of looking at his role as an orthodontist and orthodontics in general. The patient’s experience, as well as the final outcome, are tantamount to what he does.

“Orthodontics is like a story, and it’s almost like a little book review each time.

Each experience creates value for you being here.

How Much Do Braces Cost?

It’s true: braces are an investment.

The cost for kids braces varies greatly by type, duration, and needed interventions, making it hard to give an answer to the question “how much do braces cost.” Parents should expect a total price tag in the thousands. Sometimes, dental insurance can help lower an orthodontics bill. Most all orthodontists offer payment plans. You have options when it comes to paying for braces.

When you attend an orthodontic consultation, make sure you clearly understand the office’s procedures and requirements for payment. There will be a down payment and monthly payments that will span your child’s treatment.

Melissa Dekker, office manager at Knapp Orthodontics, says their office understands that paying for braces can feel overwhelming.

“Braces are an important decision, and we understand this. It can be daunting thinking about the investment and the time commitment,” she says.

“However, our consultations are free. We love to have people interested in orthodontics come in so they can better understand the whole process, and we can go over our affordable financing options,” says Melissa.

Families who go to Knapp Orthodontics get to choose their down payment and their monthly payments. The down payment can be as low as $250.

What if you have two or more kids in braces at the same time?

Dekker notes that Knapp Orthodontics works with these families. Payments can be made even more affordable in order to have the convenience of having two or more kids in treatment at a time. 

“We understand that it is an important financial decision, so we work hard to remove any barriers to getting patients started,” she says.

Dr. Knapp agrees that it is very important to work with families and have incredibly flexible payment plans.

“Every child deserves to have a confident smile and a healthy bite. Our treatment coordinators have the freedom to fit an orthodontic investment into a family’s lifestyle.”

braces cost and payment plans with Knapp Orthodontics
Financing Tools at Knapp Orthodontics

WIN an Entire Phase of Braces from Knapp Orthodontics!

Are you ready for this? Knapp Ortho is giving one lucky reader FREE BRACES. Choose from either phase 1 or phase 2 orthodontic treatment with braces depending on the need and age of the patient at the time of treatment.

Prize Details:

  • The prize covers the full cost of necessary orthodontic treatment in Phase One or Phase Two. Necessary orthodontic treatment is determined by Knapp Orthodontics at the time of a complimentary consultation and would include either phase 1 or phase 2 treatment, but not both.
  • Orthodontic treatment cannot be administered unless a candidate has received regular dental care within the last 12 months. Cavities or poor oral hygiene may prevent orthodontic treatment from moving forward.
  • Winner cannot currently be in active orthodontic treatment, i.e. have braces on their teeth.
  • The Prize Winner must schedule a complimentary new patient exam for the minor child within 90 days of winning the prize, and need to start orthodontic treatment within 12 months of the new patient exam date for expenses to be covered.
  • The Giveaway Entrant must be 18 or older, entering this giveaway on behalf of a minor child in his or her direct care.
  • The patient must be between 7 – 17 years old.
  • Both the Prize Winner & minor child must live within 30 miles of Knapp Orthodontics.

This is a prize worth $2-5K+!

Enter here to win:

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation at Knapp Orthodontics

At Knapp Orthodontics they always have complimentary consultations so that every family can learn about what it takes for their child to have a confident smile and healthy bite. Parents can schedule a complimentary consult online here or by calling 616-277-1938.

FINE PRINT: This giveaway will close on October 6, 2021 at 11PM EST and the winners will be notified via email. The winner will have 24 hours to respond by email accepting the prize. No purchase necessary to enter the contest. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to and not to Facebook. Entrants will release Facebook from all liability. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and reside in Michigan. Only one entry per household or IP address. GRKIDS’ liability is limited to the value of the prize.

Partner Info

According to Dr. Knapp, “adolescents who go through orthodontic treatment have higher confidence and self-esteem and they are more likely to participate in choir, theater, sports, band, any of these activities where you get up in front of people.”

Of course, the goal of anyone’s orthodontic treatment is a healthy smile.

Dr. Knapp says a confident smile goes a long way toward being successful in life because smiling is one of the principal forms of communication.

“People who go through orthodontic treatment – they smile more. You want to be able to communicate, smile, and laugh.”

Knapp Orthodontics logo 1

2465 Byron Station Dr SW Suite D
Byron Center, MI 49315

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