Teens and braces go together all around the world like bright and healthy smiles. Whether your teen’s smile needs simple straightening or more complex alignment, you might be delighted to know orthodontic care has come a long way in recent years. New technologies and treatments make care more comfortable and convenient, producing results with more accuracy and speed in a variety of ways from clear and colorful braces to a clear aligner approach that is altogether invisible with innovations such as Invisalign® Teen.
How Do I Know If My Teen Needs Braces?
Braces are able to fix many orthodontic issues, some that you may have already noticed, and others that could require a diagnosis from a doctor. The most obvious reason for getting braces is crooked teeth, but overcrowding and bite misalignment are also common issues that can be solved with braces. The best way to determine if your teen is a candidate for braces is to book a consultation with your local orthodontist. During this first appointment, the doctor will do a visual exam and take X rays to get a better understanding of the tooth and jaw positions. If your teen requires treatment, the orthodontist will be able to explain the treatment process to you and answer all of your questions. The typical treatment time with braces is two years, though this really depends on what kinds of issues need to be addressed. For more cosmetic fixes, the treatment time will be shorter, but for serious misalignment or crowding problems, the process will likely take longer. If there are no pressing issues, they may ask you to return for a check-up after a year or so.
What Type of Braces Should My Teen Wear?
Thanks to innovations in the world of orthodontics, there are now multiple options available for braces. You can speak with your orthodontist about which type of braces will best suit your teen’s needs and lifestyle. Most people know that traditional braces use metal brackets and wires to pull teeth into place. Small elastics will be placed on the brackets to keep everything in place, and your teen is able to choose their favorite color combinations for these elastics or keep them clear if they want. These braces will require periodic visits to the orthodontist office so that the wires can be tightened manually by a technician.
Clear braces are very similar to traditional braces in that they use brackets on the front of the teeth to apply pressure. Instead of metal brackets, clear braces use a ceramic material that mimics the natural color of the tooth, making it very hard to notice that your teen is wearing braces at all.
Self-ligating braces look identical to traditional braces, but they use a specialized type of bracket to consistently tighten the braces. This can cut down on visits to the orthodontists’ office for manual tightenings and tends to be more comfortable than traditional braces. Another benefit with self-ligating braces is that there is less plaque buildup around the brackets than traditional braces, making them a more hygienic alternative.
Lifestyle Changes with Braces
Braces should not seriously alter your teen’s life, though there are some precautions that they should keep in mind day-to-day. It is a good idea to avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods, as these can break or damage the braces. If your teen does happen to eat food that is off-limits and their braces break, call your orthodontist immediately to come in for an appointment. They can use the dental wax provided by your orthodontist to keep any wires from poking their gums in the meantime when participating in sports or other physical activity, your teen should wear a braces-friendly mouthguard to protect their teeth.
Braces do tend to cause some soreness or discomfort, especially after visits to the orthodontist. This can be alleviated by eating soft foods and taking a pain reliever for the first day or so after an appointment. If the metal brackets rubbing against the inside of your gums or tongue is causing tenderness, you can put some dental wax on top to cover the brackets and leave a smooth surface.
One last thing to keep in mind is that you will need to spend a few extra minutes taking care of your dental hygiene with braces. Taking the time to really brush between brackets and use a special flosser provided by your orthodontist is important to keep your teeth healthy and white throughout treatment.