Adolescent Treatment

adolescent.jpgFor many teens, braces are a rite of passage: They're one more example of the changes adolescents go through at this time — along with growth in stature, edgier tastes in clothes and music, and an increasing degree of self-awareness. But is there any particular reason why orthodontic appliances and teenagers seem to go together? In a word: Yes.

There are several good reasons why adolescence is the optimal time for orthodontic treatment, though occasionally even earlier intervention is called for. One has to do with the development of the teeth: 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 an adult's personal and professional lifestyle. Types of orthodontic appliances include:

Metal braces.Traditional Metal Braces  - This is probably what you think of when you picture someone wearing braces: small metal brackets bonded to the front of the teeth. A thin wire runs through the brackets and is attached on either end to metal bands that go around a back molar. They may even offer some customized options, like colored elastic ties on the brackets.

 

Clear braces.Clear Braces  - Instead of highly noticeable metal brackets, you can have clear ones made of ceramic or composite materials which blend in with your teeth. They are hardly visible, except for the thin wire running through. They’re suitable in many situations, but they cost a little more and are more susceptible to breakage than metal braces.

 

Clear aligners.Clear Aligners for teens  - Formerly recommended only for adult patients, clear aligners are now available for teens. They are a series of removable, clear plastic trays that gradually straighten teeth as they're worn (for 22 hours per day). The advantage: they're practically invisible!

Other Orthodontic Appliances - Other orthodontic appliances may be recommended in some cases, where major tooth or jaw movement is needed.  They can range from small devices that fit inside the mouth to external headgear.  Bit 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.

After Treatment

Wearing a retainer after orthodontic treatment is crucial, no matter which type of appliance you choose and what age you happen to be. Teeth that are not held in place by a retainer long enough for new supporting bone to develop around them can drift back to their original positions, and that's certainly not something we — or you — want to see happen. We will make sure to instruct you on how to retain your new, more beautiful smile so that it continues to make you look and feel great for years to come.

 

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