Orthodontic treatments, like teenage braces, help to move and properly align the teeth. The teenage years are the most common time for orthodontic treatments to take place. In fact, patients age 12 to 17 years represent more than half of the over two million orthodontic cases in the U.S. each year according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Often, permanent teeth are not completely straight on their own. They may be crooked and fail to fit together correctly. Fixing these issues not only improves the smile, but also improves the overall health of the teenager’s teeth and mouth. When teeth are properly aligned, they are easier to clean, and the risk of cavities and gum disease significantly decreases. Using x-rays and other diagnostic tools, a dental professional will decide if orthodontic treatments might be beneficial and can refer your teenager to an orthodontist for further evaluation and treatment.
Braces for teenagers
Braces are typically the treatment of choice from most orthodontic problems. The most common age range for orthodontic treatment is 12 to 15. By age 12, most permanent teeth have erupted, and crooked teeth, gaps, and bite issues are easy to identify. Typically, these problems will not improve without orthodontic intervention. Teenagers generally wear braces for 1 to 3 years, but every case is different. Factors such as severity of the orthodontic problem, patient growth, gum and bone response to the tooth moving process, and patient cooperation all impact the length of the orthodontic treatment. Teenagers who eat right, practice good dental hygiene, and follow all instructions typically complete treatment on time. Once the braces are removed, a retainer is typically worn for a specific amount of time to ‘retain’ the corrections that were made.
Common concerns of teenagers regarding braces
Even though more than half of all teenagers need orthodontic treatment, many teenagers don’t like the idea of braces. At an age when image can me important, the thought of having metal brackets and wires on the teeth can be overwhelming for some teenagers. Self esteem can be delicate during the teenage years, and reservations about orthodontic treatments are common. Fortunately, braces have improved significantly in recent years. In general, the brackets are smaller and that significantly minimizes the amount of visible metal. In addition, a number of options are also now available for those that don’t want standard metal braces. Some orthodontics offer clear brackets which many teenagers prefer. In some cases, it is possible to bond the brackets to the back of the teeth (lingual braces) making the braces almost undetectable. Depending on the orthodontic issue, a series of plastic tray aligners may be used as an alternative to traditional braces. Improvements have also made the tooth-moving process faster and more efficient. An orthodontist can determine what treatments are most appropriate for each individual teenager.
Benefits of teenage braces
There are many benefits to beginning orthodontic treatments during the teenage years. For most teenagers, this is a time where many of their friends are also undergoing orthodontic treatment. This may help put them at ease and feel better about wearing braces. Additionally, teenagers at this age may still be growing. Orthodontists can take advantage of this growth to help move the teeth and correct the bite and alignment. The high metabolism of most teenagers at this age can also help reduce discomfort and shorten the overall treatment time.
Speak with your teenager’s dentist about the possibility of braces and any concerns you may have.