For many teens, braces are a rite of passage: They’re one more example of the changes adolescents go through at this time — along with growth in stature, edgier tastes in clothes and music, and an increasing degree of self-awareness. However, is there any particular reason why orthodontic appliances and teenagers seem to go together?
In a word: Yes.
First, orthodontic problems don’t improve with age, and can become harder to treat as growth reaches completion. It’s easier to treat many orthodontic problems during adolescence because the body is still growing rapidly and is still malleable.
Secondly, by the age of 11-13 most deciduous (baby) teeth have been lost and most of the permanent teeth have come in. This is the time when we can go to work correcting the problems that cause a bad bite (malocclusion), improper tooth spacing, and poor alignment.
Thirdly, whether we use standard braces, Invisalign Teen, or appliances like palatal expanders, we can create an improved appearance and function in a short period of time.
Lastly and especially for teens, improved appearance can have a major impact on self-image and lead to increased confidence. Many teens discover a social element to having orthodontic treatment. If your teen needs braces, you will discover that they not alone! Chances are that they will see some of their classmates in our office and may even make new friendships as they go through the process together. Our teenaged patients find that when their treatment is complete, they will have a smile that they can be proud of, and the benefits will last a lifetime!
The Orthodontic Treatment Process
Understanding what to expect goes a long way towards feeling absolutely comfortable with your orthodontic treatment. So, what can you expect? Your treatment plan will vary according to your specific needs. When you first come in, you can expect that we will take pictures and radiographic (X-ray) images of your mouth. Then we’ll determine your unique treatment plan. It may involve regular braces (with or without rubber bands), Invisalign Teen (“invisible” aligners), or the use of a specialized appliance. Here are some of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances:
- Metal Braces: You’ll find that braces today are much better than the braces worn years ago. They are smaller and lighter than ever and even offer some customized options, like colored elastic ties on the brackets. We use low profile brackets, made by American Orthodontics, and these brackets are made in the USA.
- Clear Braces: These braces feature brackets made of ceramic or composite materials that are made to blend in with your teeth making them harder to notice. They cost a bit more, but the cosmetic benefits are unmistakable.
- Clear Aligners: (Invisalign) A series of removable, clear plastic trays that straighten your teeth as they are worn 22 hours per day. Parents will appreciate the compliance indicators which help you keep track of how often you’re wearing them and help you stay on track with your treatment. They’re great for teens and they’re practically invisible!
How long will I wear them?
There’s no one answer that fits everyone: It all depends on what we need to do in your individual situation. Generally, however, the active stage of orthodontic treatment lasts 18-24 months, but can be quicker depending on the degree of problem and depending on the level of compliance throughout treatment. After the braces are removed, you will wear a retainer and the new smile we’ve worked together to create will be yours for a lifetime.