The consensus around braces is that the earlier you get them, the more effective they will be in dealing with issues like crooked teeth, gaps, overbites, underbites and improving the overall physical “orofacial” appearance of the patient. There are, however, a number of questions that arise when it comes to the technicalities involved in getting braces.
Before you visit your dentist or orthodontist, it is recommended that you read up on what exactly are braces and how they work to get your teeth in the correct order and alignment. In addition to this, it is also important to understand what are the different options that are available to teenagers when it comes to braces, and the costs associated with each of these (braces aren’t cheap).
If you are a teenager looking to get braces, or an apprehensive parent of teenagers, here is a guide to the different types of braces that will help you make the right decisions.
Why do Teens Need Braces?
Due to the changes that a regular teen goes through, their teeth can start to get misaligned or malformed – especially due to changes in their jaw, among others. This is absolutely normal. Since it’s easier and less expensive to fix orthodontic issues while the changes are still happening, getting braces as a teen is highly recommended. Now, what are braces, really, and what do they do? Let’s take a look!
Orthodontic brackets are small dental appliances that are applied to the patient’s teeth to straighten teeth or deal with any possible misalignment. There are many different problems that can be common in children across the board. Some examples of these are crooked teeth, overcrowding in the mouth, gaps between teeth or malocclusion – difference in the size of the upper and lower jaws. Overbites and underbites, where the upper jaw is bigger than the lower jaw or the lower jaw is bigger, respectively, are also common conditions that can be dealt with using braces.
Braces are usually made up of two main components. The first is the bracket that goes directly onto the teeth of the patient. Orthodontists use a medical-grade cement bonding glue to keep these in place. The second part of the braces is the wire that goes through individual brackets and provides a sort of stability to the entire structure. Using this, the dentist is able to apply a specific amount of force in the required direction to align the patient’s teeth.
What Is the Best Age to Get Braces?
There is no actual age limit for braces, you must ensure that your child has lost all of his or her milk teeth before you take them to a dentist or orthodontist for a consultation. Ideally, children between the age of 10 and 14 are likely to benefit the most from getting braces as their mouth and face are still developing at this stage. This allows the orthodontist to apply the right kind of pressure for the best results in a limited amount of time.
Even if your child has crossed this age, they can benefit immensely from getting braces. During their teens, their jaw and overall mouth area hasn’t developed completely. There is still scope for growth, which can be capitalized to engineer changes like alignment or straightening of teeth. For that matter, even adults can benefit from getting braces, but the changes are relatively slower to show up.
Most Popular Braces for Teens
There are a number of braces that can help in fixing your child’s dental issues but the most popular ones of these are mentioned below.
Metal braces, also referred to as traditional braces or the conventional variety of braces, are most commonly used by teens because of their relative inexpensiveness. These consist of a number of metal brackets that are stuck to the front of the patient’s teeth using a type of bonding glue. A metal wire runs through these brackets to apply the right amount of force on the teeth. The interesting part about these braces is that you can use colorful rubber bands to hold the wire in its place. These rubber bands allow teens to express themselves in a small way.
While metal braces usually use these rubber bands, advancement in techniques has resulted in brackets that have small doors to hold on to the wire. These braces are called self-ligating braces as they eliminate the need for rubber bands.
The next type of braces to be discussed here are ceramic braces. They work in the same way as metal braces but the material used for the different components isn’t metal – it is ceramic. Instead of standing out like the silver in metal, ceramic braces merge with the background of the patient’s teeth, making it less noticeable. This doesn’t cost much more than regular braces, so it makes for a great alternative for teens that are conscious about getting braces.
If financial resources aren’t an issue and you don’t want your child to have lower self-esteem because of visible braces, you can opt for lingual braces. These work on the same concept of brackets and wires but instead of placing these on the outer surface of the teeth, these are placed inside – facing the tongue. These braces are more expensive because they have to be custom made. However, if your teen has relatively small teeth, he or she may not be eligible for getting these braces.
If your child is extremely disciplined and just needs some minor realignment, you can opt for Invisalign. Invisalign is a type of clear aligner that is customized according to the teeth impression of the patient. It is removable, but to get the best results, your child will have to wear it for at least 22 hours each day. This aligner needs to be removed every time the teen eats or drinks anything that isn’t water.
All the options mentioned on this list are effective in dealing with orthodontic problems, especially among children and teenagers. The progress is usually quite fast and most teens don’t have to wear braces for over two years. However, before you take a call on what the best type of braces are for you or your child, it is important to seek a consultation with an orthodontist. The professional will be able to guide you, depending on the severity of the misalignment, your dental insurance coverage and the look that you are going for.