Teens’ growth spurt includes a lot of physical changes and of these, one of the things they are most conscious about is their smile – teeth and braces.
It’s often also the ideal time to address any issues of crooked teeth or remedy a misaligned bite, while entrenching good dental habits that will last these emerging adults throughout their life.
Teeth and Braces for Teens
Here’s an insight into teens, teeth and braces, and what parents should be aware of.
By the time a child reaches their early teens, all teeth other than the wisdom teeth are usually in place, which marks the beginning of an important phase in both dental hygiene and orthodontics.
This is an excellent time to instill good dental habits that will ensure the longevity of these new adult teeth, while it also brings the perfect window of growth and development to successfully correct the teeth and the bite.
So, what are the milestones and checklists parents need to mindful of when it comes to teens and teeth?
Teens and orthodontics
When it comes to orthodontics, the teen years are the ideal window to address crooked teeth and any issues with the bite. And 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.
If they haven’t already, teenagers should see an orthodontist at around 12 or 13 years of age. By this point all adult teeth have erupted but the body is still growing and capable of easily accommodating the corrections required to straighten teeth and align the bite.
If it is recommended your teen has braces, there are many more options available than in the past, including self-ligating braces like the Damon system or even Invisalign.
Damon Braces are renowned for shortening treatment times, requiring fewer appointments and achieving excellent results.
They differ from traditional braces as the custom-made archwires are not fixed to the bracket, but rather slide through them to gently shift the teeth into position. They are also available with clear brackets for those teens who may be concerned about the look of braces.
Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable aligners to shift the teeth into position. These aligners need to be worn at least 22 hours a day, but offer the benefit of being discreet and they can also be removed for special occasions.
Your orthodontist is the best person to advise which option best suits your teen, depending on their individual situation.
Dental hygiene remains imperative throughout the teenage years, although this new era of independence may see some of the good habits of childhood wane.
It’s important your teen maintains the vigilant teeth cleaning and flossing routine that parents established in the earlier years, including brushing for at least two minutes twice daily and flossing once a day.
In 2018, the Australian Government’s Oral health and dental care in Australia report found one in four children aged 6-14 had cavities in their permanent teeth and this increased as people age, with Australians aged between 15 and 25 having on average 4.5 teeth that have decay, are missing or filled.
If you’re struggling to ensure your teen is adequately looking after their teeth, appeal to their newfound sense of self awareness, gently reminding them that a lack of oral hygiene leads to bad breath and ultimately can result in tooth loss.
If your teen has braces, this attention to good oral hygiene will be even more essential. The wires and brackets that come with braces tend to make it harder to reach all the little nooks and crannies in the mouth.
So, not only will your teen need to maintain their regular cleaning routine, they may also need to up the ante in terms of brushing, flossing and even the foods they eat.
That newfound sense of independence we keep mentioning may also mean your child is now in charge of much of their own diet, and some of the choices they make may not be the best for their teeth or general health.
Try to remind your teen of how important a healthy diet is to their mental, physical and dental wellbeing.
Sweet, sugary foods and drinks should be enjoyed in moderation, and this is particularly the case if your child has braces. These foods leave a residue on teeth that make them prone to plaque build-up and decay.
As part of a commitment to good dental health, your teen should also visit the dentist at least once a year for a regular checkup to identify any potential issues and ensure those teeth are properly cleaned.
Meanwhile, if they have braces, regular orthodontic appointments will also be part of their schedule.
Regular orthodontic appointments help advance the treatment process, ensuring the work can be completed in as short a time as possible
The busy teen social schedule may also feature regular sporting activities like team and contact sports. If that’s the case, the focus is on protecting permanent teeth. Regardless of whether your teen has braces or not, mouthguards should be used in contact sports.
General mouthguards can be fitted by your dentist or are available at sports shops and chemists.
Meanwhile, mouthguards that are tailor-made for braces can be provided by your orthodontist.
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 discreet, removeable Invisalign braces, and welcome the opportunity to work with you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of.