Orthodontics in Life Stages: Teens (and Pre-teens)
Globally, the wearing of braces is most often associated with being in your teenage or pre-teenage years. These years are universally known to be the ideal time for orthodontic treatment.
In some countries, wearing braces is almost a rite of passage, and no one considers just leaving crooked teeth to be, well … crooked. In the UK, the general advice is to wait till adult teeth have almost come through before commencing treatment, so the average age of a child patient is slightly higher.
Nonetheless, most patients begin orthodontic treatment between ages 9 and 16, but this varies depending on each individual. Because teenagers are still growing, the teen years are often the optimal time to correct orthodontic problems and achieve excellent results.
Most orthodontic malocclusion problems are inherited. Some examples of genetic problems are:
- protruding upper teeth
- extra or missing teeth
- jaw growth discrepancies
Other malocclusions or reasons for crooked teeth are acquired. In other words, they develop over time. These can be caused by:
- thumb-sucking or finger-sucking as a child
- mouth breathing or abnormal swallowing
- dental disease,or poor dental hygiene causing early or late loss of baby (primary) teeth
- trauma or accidents,
- poor nutrition or some medical problems
Sometimes an inherited malocclusion is complicated by an acquired problem. Whatever the cause, most conditions can be treated successfully with orthodontics.
Treatment is important because crooked or crowded teeth are hard to clean, and that may contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue, and possible jaw joint problems. Without treatment, problems may become worse.
Orthodontic treatment to correct a problem may prove less costly than the additional dental care required to treat the problems that can develop in later years.
There are also options for orthodontic treatment that will fit in with your current lifestyle – you can sing or play a musical instrument. This means that orthodontic treatment need not go on hold till you have "finished orchestral playing".
There is also the emotional side of an unattractive smile to consider. When you are not confident in the way you look, your self-esteem suffers. Teenagers whose malocclusions are left untreated may go through life feeling self-conscious, hiding their smiles with tight lips or a protective hand. Sometimes, having an overriding concern can keep one even more motivated to cope with all that wearing braces brings. Self-esteem often rises almost straight away once braces are fitted, as there is a positive way forward.
Whatever the cause and movitations, orthodontics and teenagers seem to go hand in hand. Give us a call if you have a pre-teen or teen that you would like advice on.