Braces are a rite of passage for most teens. This tends to go along with multiple changes that adolescents are going through at this time. Whether it be a change in clothing, stature, as well as, an increasing degree of self-awareness. But truthfully, there is a reason why orthodontic appliances and teenagers go together.
Adolescence is an optimal time for orthodontic intervention, though in some instances earlier intervention made be required. Generally, between the age of 11-13 permanent teeth for the most part have come in as deciduous (baby) teeth have been lost. This is the time that we can begin to correct problems like a bad bite (malocclusion), poor alignment or improper tooth spacing.
Most people may assume that orthodontic problems will improve with age. This is a myth and they typically become even harder to treat. Adolescence presents a unique opportunity to easily treat most orthodontic problems as the body is still growing rapidly at this time. Improved appearance and function as are able to be created in a short amount of time with appliances like braces, or palatal expanders. This is more difficult to accomplish in later years, when the jaw and the bones in the face are fully developed. It may also prove costlier to treat.
While you may be embarrassed to get braces, you are not alone! You may even see some of your fellow classmates in the dental office. After having braces, you will have a smile that will last a lifetime that you can be proud of!
Are you wondering what you can expect with your orthodontic treatment? Typically, at your first appointment, pictures and radiographic (X-Ray) images of your mouth are taken, along with an impression of your teeth. The impression is done to create a model of your bite. Once this information is obtained, your orthodontist can create a personalized treatment plan for you! This can include braces, with or without elastic bands, a specialized appliance may also be used for a period. Below are some of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances:
Metal braces are probably what you are most familiar with. Unlike the ones of days past, todays metal braces are smaller and lighter than ever. You can even customize them now with colored elastic ties on the brackets!
Clear braces can be more aesthetically pleasing since they are made with ceramic or a composite material that blends in with the natural color or your tooth making them very hard to notice. Although they may cost a little more, they are suitable in most situations.
Clear aligners use to only be recommended for adult patients, but now they are available to teens too! New features, like compliance indicators, can tell how long you have been wearing them. Clear aligners are worn for roughly 22 hours per day and are a series of removable, clear plastic trays that work to gradually straighten the teeth as they are worn. The best part, they are practically invisible!
In some cases, where major tooth or jaw movement is needed, other orthodontic appliances may be recommended. They can range from a small device that fits inside the mouth, to a headgear. These can provide a long-term benefit in a short period of time and you will get use to quickly!
While you may be anxious to know exactly how long you will have to wear them, there is no one answer for everyone. Everyone has a unique situation that may require less or more treatment. Typically, active orthodontic treatment can last for 3-6 months. Once treatment is complete, you will wear a retainer for another period of time. Once treatment is complete, you will have a new, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime!