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How to Tell if Your Teen Needs 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 child is having difficulty talking or eating, or has a crooked smile, braces are an effective solution. The earlier you can assess their need, the better their smile will be long-term. Braces can create a happy smile that can be an asset to their teenage years.

Does My Child Need Braces?

Braces can fix many issues. The most common are:

  • Overcrowding: Overcrowding occurs when there is not enough space in the mouth for teeth to erupt properly, causing them to overlap and be crooked. Overcrowding can sometimes lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.
  • Overbite: An overbite occurs when the front teeth protrude too far over the bottom teeth. An overbite can increase the possibility of mouth injury and can sometimes impact your child’s self-esteem.
  • Crossbite: A crossbite occurs when an upper tooth is behind the lower opposing tooth. A crossbite can cause uneven jaw growth and wearing down of teeth.
  • Underbite: An underbite can occur when the lower jaw projects in front of the upper teeth.

There are certain signs that indicate your child may have one of these issues. You may observe them having difficulty chewing or biting their cheek. Other causes for concern are late or an early loss of baby teeth sounds coming from the jaws when chewing or breathing through the mouth.

What’s the Purpose of Braces?

The purpose of braces is to create a straighter smile by gradually aligning teeth. Braces also help make sure that teeth function properly and that their alignment does not cause discomfort or uneven wear. Braces are available in various materials and forms. It’s best to choose the type of braces based on your teen’s age, personality, and activity level.

Ceramic braces and metal braces are worn around the clock and use metal or ceramic brackets connected by arch-wires to move your teen’s teeth. Invisalign treatment is a newer technology for straightening teeth that uses clear, removable aligner trays to reposition teeth. Invisalign aligners are replaced approximately 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.

What’s the Best Age for Braces?

If your child is between the ages of 12 to 15, they are a good candidate for braces. The majority of their adult teeth should be in, but their jaws are still growing and changing. Teenagers should expect to wear braces for one to three years, depending on the severity of the orthodontic issues to be corrected. One advantage of getting braces as a teenager is that many of their peers will be going through the same experience of having braces.

Teenagers are in a lot of photographs, from smart-phone selfies to school portraits. Crooked teeth can sometimes result in being self-conscious or avoiding smiling in pictures. It can also have an impact on their self-esteem.

To learn more about braces, contact us at Charleston Orthodontic Specialists to schedule a free initial exam.

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