Frequently Asked Questions About Teenage Orthodontics
It took only a blink of an eye for your child to blossom into adolescence — a period of wonder, magic, and growth on all fronts.
At this critical time, your teen’s oral health faces serious obstacles. Their pearly whites are in danger of misalignments, tooth decay, and gum disease.
For a bright future, we all need a confident smile at this consequential age.
Fortunately, Dr. Richard J. Lee, with his years of experience working with anxious adolescents, is here to help!
Whether it’s through traditional braces or invisible aligners, Dr. Lee has the tools to make your teenager’s smile unforgettable.
Set your children on a dazzling life path with teenage orthodontics!
Why Should a Teenager Start Their Orthodontic
Treatment Right Now?
By the time you reach adolescence, your baby teeth have gone, and your permanent teeth have taken over. This is a key point, as orthodontists need those permanent teeth to work with. They are like the cast of a play that’s about to be directed to perfection.
As a teenager, you still have so much growth and development to go through. It’s like your body is a construction site, and your orthodontist is the site manager, making sure everything goes smoothly for the final result.
If we start your orthodontic treatment during adolescence, we can correct any problems before they become more serious. You are also at an age where you are more capable of understanding and following orthodontic instructions, such as keeping braces clean or wearing aligners for the right amount of time.
The 6 Most Common Dental Issues in Teenagers
Let’s take a look at some of the most common dental issues teens face:
- Tooth decay: It’s no secret that teens love their sweet snacks and drinks, but if you don’t brush and floss regularly, it can lead to cavities.
- Gum disease: This condition occurs as plaque accumulates along the gum line due to poor oral hygiene.
- Orthodontic issues: The teeth may exhibit improper alignment, resulting in conditions such as overbites, underbites, crowding, or excessive spacing.
- Wisdom teeth issues: It’s common for these late bloomers to appear in the late teens. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough room for them, and that can lead to pain, infection, and damage to the other teeth.
- Tooth discoloration: Soda, coffee, tea, and tobacco products may stain the teeth.
- Sport-related injuries: Teens who play contact sports are more likely to suffer mouth and teeth injuries. Be sure to wear a mouth guard!
The 4 Types of Braces Available for Teenagers
Teenagers seeking to improve their dental alignment have several effective options, including:
Traditional Metal Braces
Straightening teeth with traditional metal braces is a time-honored practice. The teeth are gradually aligned as a result of pressure exerted by stainless steel brackets and archwires.
Despite their visible presence, they are popular because of their effectiveness, durability, and affordability.
For teenagers seeking a near-invisible orthodontic treatment, lingual braces offer an innovative solution.
Structure-wise, these braces are similar to their traditional counterparts, but they are positioned on the interior or lingual side of the teeth.
Due to their position, lingual braces provide an aesthetic edge while working with the same efficiency.
Ceramic braces are an excellent choice for teenagers seeking a more aesthetically pleasing alternative without compromising on treatment effectiveness.
Clear or tooth-colored ceramic brackets mimic the functionality of traditional braces while providing a more natural appearance.
Self-ligating braces are similar to traditional braces in their primary structure, but they eliminate the need for elastic ties by using unique clips or brackets.
Besides reducing their visual prominence, this design also makes maintenance easier and may expedite your treatment!
How Long Do Teenagers Have to Wear Braces?
First off, it depends on what kind of orthodontic issue were talking about. Teens with less severe crowding or a serious overbite might only need a year or two of orthodontic treatment. However, teens with major overcrowding or a serious overbite might require two or even three years of treatment.
The type of braces also matters. Some types of braces, like self-ligating braces, work faster, while others, like lingual braces, might take longer to adjust due to their complexity.
Generally, teenagers wear braces for one to three years.
Can Teens Customize the Color of Their Braces?
Yes, they can! In fact, it’s one of the coolest things about braces today! The days of plain old metal braces are long gone. Teenagers now have the option of choosing every color of the rainbow for the ligatures that go around the brackets of their braces. Teens may want to mix-and-match their favorite colors with their school colors, or stick with classic combinations. It’s also fun to add a personal touch and make the experience of wearing braces a bit more fun!
They could even choose colors that correspond with holidays or special occasions, such as red and green for Christmas, or their team colors for a big game! Several types of braces do not offer this option, such as ceramic and lingual braces.
For traditional metal braces, however, it’s all about color. And what’s even better? They get to switch up the colors with each adjustment!
Does Getting Braces Hurt?
The process of getting braces is non-invasive and should not cause any significant discomfort. You may experience a small degree of soreness after the braces are applied and during adjustment appointments. As the braces begin the process of realignment, they exert pressure on the teeth.
The resulting discomfort varies between individuals and also varies depending on the extent of the orthodontic treatment needed. However, this discomfort is temporary and usually subsides within a few days as the mouth adjusts to the braces.
How Much Do Teenage Braces Cost?
The cost of braces can fluctuate based on your geographic location, the materials used in braces, your dental or orthodontic insurance coverage, and the complexity of the orthodontic work. As a result of these variables, teenage braces typically cost between $3,000 and $10,000.
An average out-of-pocket expense for traditional braces and associated costs revolves around $3,407.
Some dental insurance plans cover braces for all ages, while others limit coverage to adolescents. Lingual braces typically carry the highest price, ranging from $5,000 to $13,000, depending on the extent of the coverage.
Despite the fact that some braces can seem like a significant investment, there are alternative avenues for financial assistance, such as:
- Coverage of dental insurance
- Flexible spending accounts
- Investing in health savings accounts
- Personal loans or dental discounts
- Opting for payment plans
What Foods Should a Teenager With Braces Avoid?
- Crunchy fruit & veggies: Apples, carrots, and other crunchy stuff might need to be put away for a while, or at least cut into manageable pieces.
- Sticky sweets: You should avoid caramels, toffee, and chewy candy because they can stick to your braces and pull them off.
- Hard foods: It is best to avoid crackers, nuts, and popcorn as they can cause brackets to come loose.
- Tough meats: In general, it’s best to skip it if you have to chew a lot.
- Chewing gum: It can tangle in your braces and create a mess.
- Soda & sugary drinks: Your braces can become stained or even cause cavities if plaque builds up around them.
Are Invisalign Clear Retainers Available for Teens?
With Invisalign Teen, your youngster can achieve a beautiful, natural smile in a comfortable, aesthetically pleasing way!
In addition to the unique features that differentiate it from its adult counterparts, Invisalign Teen also features a collection of blue dots, which track your teenager’s treatment compliance.
When the orthodontist sees a pattern of these blue dots fading, they will prepare the next set of aligners for the patient.
What Foods Should a Teenager Eat With Braces?
There are still a few foods your teenager can enjoy while wearing braces, including:
- Soft fruit: The kind of fruit we’re talking about here is bananas, grapefruit, oranges, and the like. Even berries will work if you’re careful.
- Vegetables: Cook or steam them until soft, and you’re golden. Goodbye, crunchy carrots — hello, mashed potatoes!
- Dairy: Anything dairy-based is fine. Just stay away from hard or sticky cheeses.
- Soft grains and pasta: It’s not over for spaghetti or rice or quinoa!
- Soft meats or tofu: As long as they’re tender and easy to chew, chicken, fish, and well-cooked beef should be fine.
- Eggs: Eggs are nutritious and brace-friendly, regardless of whether they are scrambled, boiled, or poached.
- Smoothies: The possibilities are endless! Plus, they’re healthy, filling, and easy on your braces.
Should a Teenager Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, usually appear during your late teens or early twenties. Some patients have no problems with wisdom teeth. They come in straight and do not cause pain — no need to remove them.
For others, however, wisdom teeth may experience issues such as erupting at an angle, becoming impacted, or overcrowding the mouth. This may lead to pain, damage to other teeth, and even infection. In such cases, an oral surgeon will recommend removing your wisdom teeth.