Orthodontic Care for Pre-Teens
At Swords Orthodontics, many of our patients begin their orthodontic treatment (or the main part of their orthodontic treatment, what we’d call “definitive treatment”) during the pre-teen years (9 to 12).
Some of these patients first come to us for assessment at this age because they have been referred by their dentist, or they have noticed something about their teeth that they think should be different (at Swords Orthodontics, we don’t need you to have a referral from your dentist to attend us, you can just get in touch with us directly, and we can organise things with your dentist as required).
Other patients starting treatment as pre-teen children originally came to us at a younger age (which we strongly recommend), and might have had some early treatment for certain problems (what we’d call “interceptive orthodontic treatment”), or didn’t need anything done then and have been reviewed by us and are now ready to begin their “definitive treatment”.
Why the Pre-Teen Years?
In many cases, a need for orthodontic treatment is established early on. We may notice that the permanent teeth are coming in crooked, or there isn’t enough space for them, or they are in the wrong position, or we might see clear problems with the development of the jaws and the way that the teeth meet.
This is a time in a child’s physical development when many changes are beginning to take place. Growth spurts are starting to happen, and major changes are also happening in the mouth.
By the age of 12, most of the permanent teeth have come in, and the “12-year molars” may have also made their appearance. In some cases, we will want to treat before these molars show up to prevent further crowding and a longer future treatment period.
Thanks to your child’s higher metabolism rate, improvements made with braces start to happen faster and are even more comfortable, allowing for a shorter treatment time with impressive results.
The pre-teen and early teenage years are often a great time for using functional braces such as the versatile “Twin Block” brace, which is very effective at rapidly improving problems involving overjets (where the top teeth stick out too much). It’s also a good time to treat problems with overbites (where the top and bottom teeth overlap wrongly).
Social Aspects of Wearing Braces and “Fitting In”
One of the most important considerations during the pre-teen years is the challenge that children this age often feel when it comes to fitting in with their peers. At Swords Orthodontics, we take this seriously and feel that your child’s emotional development is just as important as their physical development.
If your child is getting braces at this age, you can discuss some of these talking points with him or her (and we’ll be happy to back you up and offer suitable encouragement):
- Many of their friends or other kids at school either already have braces or will be getting braces soon.
- Braces aren’t forever, and they’ll have a beautiful smile when the treatment is done.
- Clear braces are an option if they’re really concerned.
Caring for Braces as a Pre-Teen
Kids in the pre-teen age range can vary considerably in their level of maturity. Some kids adapt well to the responsibility that comes along with braces while others struggle with it. We will keep your child’s level of development in mind when deciding on the appropriate time for orthodontic treatment.
Parents have their own part to play in orthodontic treatment for their child, and they can help by:
- Making sure that their kids are cleaning their teeth appropriately while wearing braces
- Making sure that any removable braces are more often in the mouth than out
- Working with their kids to help them understand why certain foods shouldn’t be eaten with braces on (although sometimes it does take a broken wire for the message to really sink in!)
- Working with their kids to help them understand why things that aren’t food shouldn’t be eaten at all – pens, buttons, zips, Lego…and more!
Kids in this age group do respond well to positive reinforcement and rewards for good behaviour. Supervise your child during brushing and flossing and give reminders, compliments, and rewards to encourage good habits. As your child establishes good habits, increase their level of responsibility.
If it’s time to talk about orthodontics for your pre-teen child, we know how to put them at ease and explain things to them (and you), so give Swords Orthodontics a call today (01 810 7622) to meet Dr Murray and his team – our first appointment is free and we’d be delighted to see you!