If your teen has crowded or crooked teeth, an overbite, or an underbite, those problems will not simply go away. Unfortunately, they will only get worse as your child grows. Thankfully, they are at the perfect age to benefit most from orthodontic help. Here at Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas Texas, we specialize in braces for teens.
There are many ways that orthodontic treatments can help to create straight teeth, including braces and Invisalign. We’re going to explain how these treatments can help your teen gain confidence with a winning smile and prevent health problems later in life.
What Is the Best Age to Get Braces for Teens?
Orthodontics is all about optimizing the health and proper alignment of the jaw and teeth. There are so many health problems and cosmetic issues that orthodontic dentistry methods can solve, including underbites and overbites, crooked or misaligned teeth, and crossbites.
While many people decide to get help to have a more beautiful smile, the proper alignment of the jaw and teeth has implications beyond beauty. The grinding of teeth on other teeth can cause wear and damage, eventually resulting in tooth loss. This occurs when the bite is not in proper alignment. Many issues can be fixed simply and effectively with braces. There are several factors to consider when trying to decide on the right age to use braces.
You know that your child is unique, and so do we. In order to determine whether they are at a good age for braces, bring them in for a consultation so we can get to know them and their specific dental situation. We will be able to suggest how and when to implement orthodontic treatment after getting to know your child and doing a simple examination of their teeth and jaw.
Implementing an Orthodontic Health Plan
We usually like to wait until most of your child’s baby teeth have been replaced by their adult teeth. Most of these adult teeth will come in from around the age of eight and will continue until about age 14. This point in a young teenager’s life is often the best time to put on metal braces.
Don’t worry if your teenager is closer to twenty than ten: they are still in the perfect age range to get the best benefits from braces. Correcting the alignment of their teeth and jaw now will reduce the likelihood of them developing headaches, jaw issues, and teeth that become worn or damaged later in life. They will also have a lovely, confident smile to greet the world with.
Why Do These Teeth Problems Occur?
Orthodontic problems are common and nothing to feel bad about. They are often hereditary, coming from family patterns of teeth and jaw growth. No one can control their natural teeth growth and patterns. If your children have orthodontic problems, it absolutely does not make you a bad parent. The only thing you can try to control is their dental hygiene, which has nothing to do with orthodontic problems.
If you have younger children, though, do try to dissuade them from sucking their thumb after the age of four. Although thumb-sucking is a common and normal occurrence, it can lead to some developing orthodontic issues later in life. It is best for the child to break this habit by three or four. Here at Ragan Orthodontics, we help by providing thumb guards and other tools to encourage kids to wean off this behavior.
Why Get Braces?
As well as the obvious cosmetic benefits, there are a number of health conditions that straightening your teen’s teeth will help them avoid. Getting braces for teens can prevent tooth damage, decay, and loss, as well as gum disease, which are all more likely without a properly aligned bite. Once your child starts to develop these health conditions, they can be very difficult and expensive to fix. Their ability to chew and speak clearly can even be affected by misaligned teeth. Jaw problems, headaches, and other uncomfortable symptoms can also result.
Of course, there is also the self-confidence of being able to smile widely and brightly. Not being self-conscious about your teeth is a wonderful feeling. Not hiding behind a close-lipped smile is a wonderful feeling. Being a teenager is hard enough without worrying about your teeth. Your teen deserves to feel confident and to smile widely and openly without a care in the world.
How Long Do the Braces Stay On?
Braces fix so many orthodontic problems. However, the length that your child will wear braces will change depending on what problems we are addressing. More difficult teeth problems will often require wearing braces for a longer period of time. In general, one to three years is a normal amount of time for a teenager to wear braces.
A retainer will help to keep teeth in the perfect positions once the braces are removed. It is less noticeable than the braces, both visually and in your own mouth. The retainer is very comfortable since it is designed to fit your child’s teeth and gums exactly. At first, we will probably ask them to keep the retainer on all the time. Soon, though, often after only about six months, they will be able to wear it only at night.
Do Braces Need to Be Adjusted?
Periodic adjustments and tightenings are normal while wearing braces. These regular appointments are a great way for us to check in and give your child and your child’s teeth the most responsive treatment possible. We can look at how their teeth are moving and make minute changes to carefully nudge the teeth into the best positions possible. These adjustment appointments are usually held once a month for the duration of the orthodontic treatment.
What Changes When You Have Braces?
Braces aren’t going to make any major changes to your kid’s lifestyle, so no worries there. However, there are a few things that will help to make the experience of braces for teens easier and more enjoyable. We discuss some of these below and have further resources available on our website.
There are some foods that we recommend avoiding while wearing braces. They can cause damage to the braces or brackets by being too sticky or just too hard. For this reason, hard foods and foods that are very chewy are best avoided. Sticky candies like taffy are a bad idea. Biting into raw carrots and whole apples is, too. You will also find that things like popcorn kernels may get stuck easily. When we put braces on a patient for the first time, we always discuss these sorts of things to make sure that you know what to look out for.
Your teen will also have to make a few slight changes to their daily teeth cleaning routine. If they don’t already do this as part of your daily cleaning, it is very important that they regularly brush and floss while wearing braces. We know, easier said than done, but do try to get them to do it. It only takes about 30 days to make this a life-long habit!
We will show your teen simple techniques for brushing and flossing around their new braces when we first put them on. Water picks and other special flossing devices are often used to help keep the braces and gums clean and clear of food. We also discuss these options and make sure to work with everyone to find a realistic plan that your teen can stick to.
Going to the Dentist with Braces
You should continue to have your child visit the dentist for their regular cleaning in order to keep their teeth in good condition.
How Often Should We Visit the Dentist?
Although once to twice a year is common and usually sufficient, if there are any special risk factors, they may need to go even more often. We will help to find the best schedule for your family based on your unique situation.
What Will Happen at the Dentist’s Office?
A visit to the dentist for a clean with braces is very similar to cleanings without braces. Dentists and hygienists see tens of people a day who wear braces, and they know exactly how best to manage them. First, a special tool is used to remove tartar and plaque from the teeth and gum. This process takes longer if there is a larger amount of plaque built up.
Next, a powerful brush and polishing paste buff and clean the teeth and braces. The teeth and gums are then flossed. At this point, there is the option to receive a fluoride treatment to protect the teeth against the bacteria that cause cavities. Usually, the entire process takes about an hour.
What About Crowns or Missing Teeth?
We can often work around challenges like missing teeth, crowns, or root canals. There are special orthodontic methods that specifically cater to these challenges, such as attaching a bracket to a crown. In fact, braces will be perfect for some of these problems. Gaps made from missing teeth can be closed by drawing the teeth on either side together.
Are There Other Ways to Straighten Teeth?
The field of Orthodontics has really advanced over the past several years. The braces we now use are so much more comfortable and visually insignificant than they used to be. However, there are also other ways to straighten teeth.
Invisalign is one alternative to braces that can help put teeth and bite back into alignment. Each Invisalign aligner is made uniquely to fit the patient’s teeth and very gradually nudge them in the right direction. They are made of smooth and transparent plastic, making them almost invisible.
Every two weeks we will need to progress to a new aligner to keep the teeth moving ever closer to that perfect position. Eventually, the aligners will begin to look like a beautiful set of straight, even teeth. It is always fun to keep the very first aligner and compare it to some of the last to see just how far your child has come!
The Confidence of a Smile
Everyone deserves to smile widely and confidently. Don’t let crooked teeth or a bad bite keep your child from joining in. Getting braces for teens in your family ensures that they will avoid preventable teeth-related health issues such as headaches and jaw problems. Teenagers are at the best possible age to prevent later tooth and jaw-related health problems. Schedule a consultation at Ragan Orthodontics in Dallas, Texas to help your child gain the confidence they deserve!