It’s true that orthodontics can be for all ages—but if there’s an ideal window for most, it’s teenagehood. Tissues are still somewhat flexible, but all permanent teeth have already erupted, allowing for a clearer idea of your treatment’s outcome. Dougherty Orthodontics has a soft spot for this age group, and we want to tell you why teens should get orthodontic treatment!
Reasons for Treatment
First off, let’s look at some common reasons for a teen who might be seeking orthodontic treatment.
- Malocclusions: These are bite problems, which can be typical at this age. Overbites, underbites, crossbites, and overbites all fall under this umbrella. We treat these issues for functional and aesthetic improvement.
- Crowding and Spacing: This occurs when there’s insufficient space for all the teeth to properly align in the oral cavity. This can manifest in overlapping or spacing issues, where the teeth are either much too close together or much too far apart. Braces and clear aligners are usually the first line of treatment for these problems. It’s especially crucial to address since it’s permanent teeth being affected.
- Jaw Issues: Discrepancies in jaw growth leaf to overjets or underjets; orthodontic intervention can help to guide jaw growth and achieve ideal alignment.
- Wisdom Teeth: Also called third molars, these teeth can affect the alignment of existing teeth and inflict soreness in the process. We might consider their presence as we plan treatment and even opt for extraction for older teens.
- Aesthetic Concerns: Generally speaking, teens are quite concerned with how they look. Crooked or protruding teeth can have a negative social effect, leading to low self-esteem. Correcting this can have a huge impact on their confidence as they approach adulthood.
- Prior Treatment: Some teens may have undergone orthodontic treatment as kids and require maintenance or additional intervention to ensure results are maintained.
Our Treatment Options
Let’s cover the treatment options we offer in our office for alignment:
- Our office proudly offers 3M Clarity Advanced clear aligners for teens whose goal is a subtle form of treatment.
- Like most of our friends in the field, we also have traditional metal braces and clear ceramic braces, both effective and reliable options!
- LightForce Clear Braces are a specialized, modern offering that is a 3D-printed, customized set of transparent braces that are advantageous in that they tend to be a smoother process for patients in their overall treatment.
- Iconix gold braces have a special champagne shade designed to look seamless on your teeth, offering a good compromise between metal and ceramic braces in terms of looks and functionality.
Teens vs. Adults
We want to compare and contrast a bit between teenage orthodontics and adult orthodontics. This can help explain some key differences that often make teens a special case for Dr. Dougherty.
- Dental Development:
- Focuses on dental and facial development during adolescence
- Addresses how permanent teeth have aligned or are aligning
- Takes advantage of the ongoing growth and development of the jaw
- Deals with fully developed dental structures.
- Addresses pre-existing issues/may involve additional treatment of tooth wear, gum disease, and bone loss.
- Treatment Options
- More consideration for aesthetic options for the sake of teenage preferences.
- May incorporate phased treatment to coincide with ongoing dental development.
- Adult patients may prioritize even more discreet options like clear aligners.
- Compliance and Patient Education
- We work closely with teens to ensure they comply with their treatment plans.
- Emphasis on education and incorporation of parents in supervision.
- More self-reliant in terms of active participation due to increased independence and autonomy.
- May involve additional concerns related to oral health and lifestyle.
In addition to all of this information, here are a few primary FAQs that we often encounter from either a teenager’s or a parent’s perspective.
- How long does treatment last for teens?
- The short answer is it depends. The complexity of the case impacts the duration, but many adolescents are looking at one to three years of treatment.
- Can my teen play instruments or sports with braces on?
- Yes! Additional caution should be exercised, and the sensation will probably take some getting used to. Mouthguards are always an important part of intense physical activity with braces.
- Do they need a retainer when they’re done with treatment?
- Yep, this is a key part of any alignment treatment! We use these to maintain all of the hard work and effort they’ve invested, and they are usually worn full-time before transitioning to nighttime wear.
A Toothy Teenage Dream
Being a teen is already a lot, we know! But our job is to make sure, as far as smiles are concerned, you won’t have to worry too much in the long run. Getting braces or aligners at this stage of life sets you up for a happier adulthood with a smile you can be proud of! Our practice is here to collaborate with guardians and their teenagers to ensure everything goes smoothly. If you’re interested in treatment, call our St. Louis office at 636-825-1000!