There are a few defining moments and changes of a teen’s life. Braces are one of them. Of course, there’s also growth, clothing style changes, adjustments in preferences of music style, and an increase in self-awareness. How then, are orthodontics and teenagers related?
Although early intervention may be necessary, there are many good reasons why teenage or adolescent years is a prime time for orthodontic treatment. One of these reasons is due to the development of a teen’s teeth: Not all kids follow a set timetable, but typically by ages 11-13, all baby teeth are lost, and permanent teeth have almost all come in. This is an optimal time to adjust malocclusion (bad bite), improper spacing, or poor tooth alignment.
The older you get, the harder it is to treat orthodontic problems. During adolescence, the body is growing rapidly. With appliances and standard braces, Dr. Chen can create improved aesthetic appearance and oral function in a short amount of time. As an adult, when the face and jaw bones are fully developed, while still possible, orthodontic conditions can become more costly and difficult to treat.
Of course, there’s an added social element for adolescent’s undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you are ready for braces, you are not alone! More than likely, you will have other classmates getting braces with Dr. Chen, and you may even meet new people and make friends while you go through this process together. When you finally graduate from orthodontic treatment, you will be able to be proud of your smile and reap benefits for the rest of your life.
The Treatment Process
We want you to be prepared and know what to expect when you come see Dr. Chen for orthodontic treatment. At your first visit, we will take photos and a couple radiographic (x-ray) images of your mouth. We may even make a model of your bite. Next, with Dr. Chen’s assistance, we will put together a specific treatment plan. This plan could include braces and may or may not involve the use of elastics (rubber bands). Your treatment could possibly include an appliance for a certain period of time. The following are the most common orthodontic appliances:
Metal Braces. You’re probably most familiar with these, but you’ll probably be surprised when you realize how small and light they are. Dr. Chen also offers customizable options, like different colored elastics to go over your brackets.
Clear Braces. These are brackets similar to the traditional metal ones, but they are made of ceramic or composite and are a color similar to your teeth, so they blend in and make it hard to notice. Clear braces are often suitable; however, they come at a higher expense.
Clear Aligners. These are clear plastic trays that a teen can wear (for about 22 hours a day) to gradually straighten their teeth. When clear aligners were first used, they were recommended specifically for adults, but as technology has improved, clear aligners are a great option for teens. Indicators built into the aligners indicate the length of wear, which aid teens with compliance. The biggest advantage to clear aligners is that they are practically invisible!
Lingual braces. These are the most unnoticeable option to orthodontic treatment. These brackets are attached to the back, or tongue side, of the teeth, so that they remain unseen.
In some cases, Dr. Chen will recommend other orthodontic appliances to correct major tooth or jaw movement. These devices range from small appliances that fit inside your mouth, to external headgear. Don’t worry! You’ll get used to your appliance, and it’s only temporary. Thankfully, in this short time, you will gain long-term benefit.
How Long Will I Wear Braces?
Everyone’s orthodontic treatment time varies, anywhere from 6-30 months. There are various factors that determine your specific length of treatment. The one aspect that is consistent, is the length of retainer wear, after treatment. Dr. Chen will guide you in how often and how long to wear your retainer. Once you’ve completed your orthodontic treatment, you will sport a new smile that will last a lifetime.