Should my teen get braces?

Teen years are full of exciting changes, both physical and emotional. Braces are one of the most common teenage rites of passage. And with many treatments available, your teen can be excited about their smile during and after treatment!

Getting the timing right

By adulthood, the mouth, jaw, and face are fully grown, making orthodontic treatment possible but often more invasive than if it was started at a younger age. Children and teenagers have bones and tissue that are still developing, so we can work with their natural growth to align teeth, correct bites, and expand palates.

When should my teen get braces?

Most permanent teeth are in place around age 12 or 13. As adult teeth settle into their natural permanent positions, this age is a great time to correct alignment, spacing, crowding, and bite issues. However, if your child is younger and hasn’t started orthodontic treatment yet, don’t wait! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing an orthodontist at age 7 for an initial exam.

Does my teen need braces?

Whether or not your teen should get braces will depend on a number of things. The first thing you should do is see the bite alignment. If your child has misalignment issues or crooked teeth, it’s most likely that your child can benefit from braces. If you feel that something is wrong, bring your teenager in to see our orthodontist.

Protruding teeth, overcrowding, overbite and underbite are the main problems that can be corrected by braces. Most dentists and orthodontists recommend your child have a first visit to an orthodontist when all of the baby teeth have grown in. Our specialists may be able to see how the adult teeth are positioned and determine if orthodontic treatment will be needed in the future. Only when it is time to install the braces do you need to decide which type is best suited for your child.

What to expect

Your child’s first orthodontic appointment is an important one because it will set the tone for the ongoing treatments. You will be getting to know the orthodontist and the members of our team. You and your child should feel comfortable asking questions.

For your first appointment, the orthodontist will give you information about the treatment. You will need to fill out some paperwork on your child’s health history. Then the orthodontist will evaluate your child’s gums, teeth, jaw and bite, and X-rays and impressions may be taken. Notes will be taken on the extent of the orthodontic problems. From these notes, a treatment plan will be formulated for straightening your child’s teeth.

The orthodontist will also check for any signs of decay or other problems that should be fixed before orthodontic treatment begins. This will be discussed with you.

Orthodontic treatment is ideal during the teenage years as this is the time for quick growth and change, which makes it easier to shape their bite and smile. Braces can solve a number of oral health problems, including:

  • Gaps between teeth
  • Overbite
  • Open bite where some teeth cannot properly touch each other
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite where both the upper and lower teeth are misaligned

Supporting smile confidence

A straight, healthy smile is the ultimate confidence boost! For many teenagers, the end goal of braces encourages them to take care of their appliances and find joy in the treatment process. Your teen or preteen will likely know several peers going through treatment, too—maybe some of them are even in our Petty & Bielik family!

Teens and preteens often have heightened anxieties about their looks, and it’s easy for them to be self-conscious about any new change in appearance, like braces. Be sympathetic to their concerns and support their smile journey. Try keeping banned foods out of the house or only enjoying them when your child isn’t around. It helps them resist temptation and doesn’t make them feel left out. Support could also come as reminders to care for their appliances (but don’t overwhelm them, trust that they’ll do it!).

What braces options are available for teens?

Before creating a custom plan, our experts will evaluate your child’s teeth, growth, facial development, palate, and bite. At Petty & Bielik Orthodontics, we offer several advanced treatments, including:

  • Clear braces: Clear ceramic braces work just like traditional metal braces, but they use discreet, stain-resistant brackets for a more subtle look.
  • Damon Braces: Self-ligating braces may require less treatment time and fewer adjustments than traditional metal braces. They are smaller than traditional braces, do not require elastics, and use memory wire.
  • Invisalign®: Clear aligner trays have become a popular alternative to traditional braces because they are so discreet and easy to care for. With clear aligners, patients receive removable trays that gradually shift smiles into place.

You can learn more during a consultation with our team at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics. Contact us today to book a free consultation for braces at our office in Oak Lawn.