When should my teen get braces?
Although the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) advises parents to make their child’s first orthodontic appointment at about the age of seven, not all pre-adolescent children end up needing phase-one treatment, also known as an early intervention.
The age at which your adolescent should ideally begin wearing braces depends entirely on the extent of their orthodontic needs and how quickly their permanent teeth erupt. In general, orthodontic treatment during the teen years is most efficient and effective when it’s begun once all primary teeth have been lost, and after the 12-year molars are at least partially erupted.
While this means that many kids begin orthodontic treatment sometime between the ages of 12-14 years old, plenty of teens don’t get braces until they’re a little older. As an orthodontic specialist who’s been treating patients of all ages for more than 15 years, Dr. Erdell can tell you the best time for your teen to start wearing braces.
What types of braces are popular among teens?
Dr. Erdell offers a complete range of braces for teens, including:
- Metal braces - Traditional braces, or those made with metal wires and brackets, are popular among teens because the brackets are smaller and less noticeable than were in the past, and teens can choose different colored bands to express a little personality.
Parents like traditional metal braces because they’re generally the least expensive option, and their advanced heat-activated archwires help straighten teeth more quickly and comfortably than in the past.
- Ceramic braces - Also known as clear braces, ceramic braces are exactly like metal braces, but because their brackets are clear or enamel-colored, they’re far less noticeable.
Ceramic braces are an excellent option for teens who have the kind of significant spacing or alignment issues that are best corrected by bracket-and-wire braces, but who don’t like the look of metal braces.
- Clear Aligner Therapy- Clear aligner therapy is an orthodontic system that uses custom-created clear plastic aligners to straighten your teen’s teeth over time. Clear aligners are an ideal solution for mild to moderate orthodontic problems, including small gaps, crowded teeth, protruding teeth, overbites, underbites, and crossbites.
Teens like clear aligners (Invisalign and 3M Clarity Aligners) because they’re removable—they can take them out to eat, brush their teeth, and play sports. They also like the fact that they’re clear because people continue to notice their smile, not their orthodontic appliance.
Will my teen also have to wear a retainer?
Whether your teen ends up wearing traditional bracket-and-wire braces or clear aligners, the final phase of treatment — called the retention phase — requires wearing a retainer.
Although your teen’s teeth may be straight and their smile may look perfect once their braces come off, their teeth are relatively unstable for a certain period of time following orthodontic treatment.
Wearing braces or aligners stretches the ligament fiber attachments from their teeth to the surrounding bone. Without a retainer, these fibers can pull teeth back into their original position in a relatively short amount of time.
Dr. Erdell will let you know how long your teen needs to wear a retainer to ensure their teeth are stable enough to maintain their new alignment.
To learn more about teen orthodontics, call Dr. Erdell’s office today, or make an appointment using the convenient online booking tool.
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