How to Tell if Your Teen Needs Braces

Happy teens with braces

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, youth ages 12 to 17 represent over half of the two million orthodontic cases in the U.S. each year. If your youngster is having difficulty talking or eating, braces are an effective solution. The earlier you can assess their need, the better their smile will be long-term. From fixing crooked teeth to avoiding emotional breakdowns, braces can create a happy smile that’ll highlight their teenage experience.

Issues Commonly Requiring Braces

Braces can fix several uncomfortable tooth issues causing your teen stress. The most common instances for teens are:

  • Overcrowded: Not enough space in the mouth for teeth to erupt properly, causing them to overlap and be crooked. Overcrowding can also lead to a buildup of plaque, resulting in tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
  • Overbite: Front teeth protruding too far over the bottom teeth can increase the possibility of mouth injury and affect your child’s self-esteem.
  • Crossbite: An abnormal bite where the upper tooth is behind the lower opposing tooth. It can cause uneven jaw growth and wearing of teeth.
  • Underbite: When the lower jaw projects in front of the upper teeth.

You may observe your teen having difficulty chewing or biting his or her cheek. Other causes for concern are late or early loss of baby teeth, sounds coming from the jaws when chewing, or breathing through the mouth.

The Purpose and Types of Braces

The purpose of braces is to gradually align teeth so they will not only look nice, but also function properly without causing discomfort or uneven wear. Braces are available in various materials and forms. It’s best to choose a certain type of braces based on your teen’s age, personality, and activity level. Ceramic and metal braces are worn around the clock and use metal or ceramic brackets connected by arch-wires to move your teen’s teeth.

A slightly newer technology, Invisalign uses clear, removable aligner trays that unnoticeably reposition teeth. Invisalign aligners are replaced about every two weeks. Because the trays are removed when eating, there are no food restrictions with Invisalign, but there is a greater risk of the trays not being worn enough or getting lost.

The Teen Years Are a Good Time to Get Braces

If your child is between the ages of 12 to 15, they are a perfect candidate for braces because the majority of their adult teeth should be in, but their jaws are still growing and changing. Teens should expect to wear braces from one to three years, depending on the severity of the orthodontic issues to be corrected. Fortunately, he or she won’t have to endure this experience alone. Their peers are likely to be going through the same treatment and can offer support during school or extracurricular activities.

Teen smiles are the focus of memories, from smart-phone selfies to school portraits. With your youngster still growing, crooked or poorly spaced teeth can create emotional stress and even cause your teen to avoid social events. Being embarrassed by their smile could negatively impact their self-esteem and ability to achieve lifelong goals.

To learn more about braces and get your teenager’s smile on the right track, contact Charleston Orthodontic Specialists to schedule a free initial exam.