For many teenagers, braces are almost a rite of passage and there’s a good reason this is the case. It is estimated around 75 per cent of teens have an issue with the position of their teeth and bite alignment after mature teeth erupt.
More importantly, as the body is still growing, the teen years offer the perfect window to address these issues effectively.
Although there is no cut-off date for orthodontic treatment and indeed more and more adults are benefitting from orthodontic work, when it comes to teenagers and braces, they are indeed a match made in heaven.
The perfect window
Between the ages of 10 and 13, most children have all their permanent teeth in place, but the body is still continuing its rapid growth.
This makes the teen years an ideal time to straighten teeth and align the bite. In a nutshell, all the essential ingredients are in place and the body is primed to handle and take on the changes required.
Importantly, as bone growth plays an important part of the braces’ process, using a window where the body is happily growing it has some major benefits.
But to understand why, it helps to gain an insight into what happens during braces treatment.
In the interim it’s important to note that while the teen years are often the time when braces and Invisalign treatments take place, the orthodontic journey benefits from starting long before that.
Stage 1 – Initial alignment – The first few months of wearing braces is called the initial alignment. This is the stage where the focus is on straightening teeth and moving them into the desired position.
At the roots of the teeth, bone on one side of a tooth is being broken down (resorption), while additional bone mass is also being created on the other side (deposition). This process is critical to teeth maintaining their position in the long term.
Stage 2 – Correcting the bite – Once the teeth are in position, an orthodontist turns their attention to correcting the bite, and this is another important part of braces’ treatment.
A well-aligned bite, featuring teeth that are in the right position and meet each other at the right angle has benefits for long-term dental health, stops teeth wearing unnecessarily and also assists with activities like speech and chewing.
This stage tends to take longer than the initial alignment, but in the interim, teeth are also making themselves comfortable in their nice, new straight position
Stage 3 – Maintaining position – The final element of the braces process is about maintaining the position of the teeth, and this stage extends beyond the removal of the actual braces.
Once braces have been removed, patients are fitted with a retainer. This is basically a removable, hard, plastic device with fixed wires behind the teeth that keep teeth in position.
Pre-teen assessment and treatment
Your child might not need braces until their teens, or they might not need braces at all, but the ideal time to get a heads-up about whether or not orthodontic treatment will be required and the course that it might take is actually when a child is about the age of seven.
At this stage an orthodontist can gain a critical insight into what’s happening in the jaw, looking at where permanent teeth are emerging, how the bite is forming and whether there’s likely to be enough room to accommodate incoming teeth.
In some cases, this allows the orthodontist to take steps to assist with this jaw formation, particularly in instances where it’s likely the upper or lower palate will be too narrow to have sufficient space for all permanent teeth.
Using early intervention treatments such as a palatal expander, an orthodontist can widen the palate and allow these teeth more room. That may mean fewer or no extractions in the future and less likelihood for extensive orthodontic work when a child actually reaches their teens.
Never too late
Just because you didn’t have braces in your teen years does not mean it’s too late to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of. And more and more adults are choosing orthodontic treatment to embrace a winning smile.
New orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign and Damon braces now offer fast, discrete and highly effective options for adults looking improve their smile, lift their self-esteem and embrace a lifetime of better oral health.
In short, the ideal time to have braces might be the teen years but make no mistake, the second-best time is now.
About Norwest Orthodontics
Norwest Orthodontics specialises in helping you achieve a great smile, no matter your age. We feature a range of orthodontic treatments that span from early intervention right through to remedial adult work.
We also have a suite of treatments available that include discrete, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.