Orthodontic Care for Teenagers
At Swords Orthodontics, we always want to start orthodontic treatment when it will be most effective, and for many patients, this is during the teenage years. That’s why orthodontics is something classically associated with teenagers, even though we actually treat patients from all age groups.
Getting Braces as a Teenager
Orthodontics is a very personal treatment that must be individually tailored to fit each patient. There’s no such thing as “one size fits all” when it comes to braces. In some cases, the time to start braces is in the pre-teen years (or earlier), and in others, it’s best to wait until all the permanent teeth have come through, including the “12-year molars” (which aren’t always as accurately named as they should be - sometimes they don’t come into the mouth until age 13 or 14). There are even a few problems that are best treated at the end of the teenage years when all the growth is finished.
One of the benefits of bringing your child in to our office at an early age is that we have the opportunity to monitor your child’s development and choose the ideal time for braces.
If this is your teenager’s first visit to an orthodontist, we may find some problems that could have benefited from earlier correction. There’s almost always a solution to them, and we will discuss these issues with you at the time of your appointment and some of the options for solving the problems. We’ll then work with you to plan the appropriate treatment.
Braces Options for Teenagers
At Swords Orthodontics, we most often offer traditional fixed braces to our teenage patients. We know that teenagers always want to look their best, so we can arrange for them to be coloured (often that’s in favourite team colours) or we can discuss clear or tooth-coloured brackets or even near invisible treatments like Invisalign if your teenager is interested.
Invisalign Teen can treat many conditions that can be fixed with braces, but there are some situations in which it’s not the most appropriate treatment. We’ll discuss your needs and goals to make sure that the treatment plan we choose is the best one for your child.
Some teenagers may be reluctant to get braces. We can help with before-and-after pictures to provide some encouragement. Does your teen have any close friends who wear braces? Pointing out celebrities who wear braces is another way to inspire your teenager – as are pictures of any celebrity with straight teeth that aren’t false, since most of them that have teeth that are straight and natural probably don’t have teeth that are naturally straight!
Caring for Braces as a Teenager
Most teenagers are ready for a bit more independence, and braces can be a great way to “test the waters”. We’ll discuss how to care for braces and teeth with both you and your teenager to make sure both of you know what is expected.
Quite often, a teenage patient knows that there is a problem with their teeth, they want the problem solved, and they know what’s involved in correcting it. This means that they can be quite motivated towards this - they want a great smile too.
Encourage your teenager to take care of his or her braces independently, but be prepared to step in if a little extra support is needed. Improper or inconsistent hygiene habits while wearing braces can have permanent repercussions, so this is something that should be taken seriously.
Your teenager may also feel frustrated at the idea of not being able to enjoy some of the same treats as his or her friends, especially crusty pizza and snacks like chunky chocolate, popcorn, and hard or sticky sweets. Remind your teen that he or she can eat anything desired after the braces come off and then help your teenager prepare a braces-friendly treat instead.
Brace care isn’t just about eating the wrong food – chewing things that aren’t food (pens, zips, and buttons) and similar activity (“I was just opening a bottle with my teeth”) can mean all sorts of damage for braces.
So can doing healthy things that are normally a good thing - certain sports can be damaging to braces (and the teeth and the rest of the mouth) if you don’t take careful precautions like wearing a mouthguard, and we can talk about this, give you advice, and offer a range of mouthguard options too.
When Braces Come Off
People don’t come to see us because they want orthodontics; they come to see us because they want the benefit that orthodontics can give them. When the orthodontics is finished, the braces come off, and you get to enjoy your new smile. In order to keep things that way, in order to stay as delighted with your smile as you were the first time you looked in a mirror after we took the braces off, you need to follow the after-treatment instructions – and the first of these is to wear your retainers.
We can’t emphasise enough how important this is and how disappointed people can become if they don’t follow some very simple and undemanding instructions. For a teenager, that determines the smile they’ll have as a young adult and beyond.
Call Swords Orthodontics today (01 810 7622) to schedule an appointment for you and your teenager to meet Dr Murray and his team. Your initial visit is free, and it’s a great opportunity for you both to learn more about orthodontics and how it can help for your teenager get a great smile to start their adult years.