The teen years are the perfect time to implement an orthodontic treatment plan. The facial bones and jaw are still growing, and an orthodontist can use that to your advantage.
There are several good reasons why adolescence is the optimal time for orthodontic treatment. There’s no set timetable for every kid, but generally by the age of 11-13 the deciduous (baby) teeth have all been lost, and the permanent ones have largely come in. This is the time when we can go to work correcting the problems that cause a bad bite (malocclusion), improper tooth spacing or poor alignment.
Orthodontic problems don’t improve with age, they simply become harder to treat. It’s easier to treat many orthodontic problems during adolescence because the body is still growing rapidly at this time. Whether we use standard braces or appliances like palatal expanders, we can create an improved appearance and function in a short period of time. In later years, when the bones of the face and jaw are fully developed, many conditions become more difficult (and costly) to treat.
There’s even a social element to getting orthodontic treatment in adolescence. If you need braces, you’re not alone! Chances are you’ll see some of your classmates in our office, and you may even make new friends as you go through the process together. When it’s done, you’ll have a smile that you can really be proud of, and benefits that will last your whole life.
TYPES OF ORTHODONTIC APPLIANCES
All orthodontic appliances work essentially the same way: by employing light, constant force to move teeth into proper alignment. But how we apply these forces can vary, as numerous innovations have become available in recent years. Some of the newer, less visible orthodontic appliances have been designed to blend more easily into a teen’s personal lifestyle.
THE ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT PROCESS
What can you expect when you come in to our office for treatment? It all depends on what kind of treatment you need. The first time you come in, we will take pictures and radiographic (X-ray) images of your mouth, and possibly make a model of your bite. Then, we’ll develop a treatment plan. It may involve regular braces, with or without elastics (rubber bands). We might also recommend that you use a specialized appliance for a period of time.
When major tooth or jaw movement is needed, other orthodontic appliances may be recommended. They can range from small devices that fit inside the mouth to external headgear. But don’t worry: You’ll get used to them, and they’re temporary — but they provide a long-term benefit in a short time.
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 6-30 months. Afterwards, you will wear a retainer for another period of months. When your orthodontic treatment is complete, the new smile we’ve worked together to create will be yours for a lifetime.