The Unique Challenges (and Benefits) of Teen Braces

By July 17, 2018Blog

For most kids, the right age for braces is usually somewhere between ages 9 and 13. Sometimes misalignment or crowding develop later, when a teen is well into high school. Both braces and Invisalign are great choices for teens and adults with mild-to-moderate malocclusion, so deciding to pursue a course of orthodontics can be beneficial at any age. However, wearing braces as a teen can present some unique challenges.

Are you interested in a consultation for teen braces, Sacramento CA? Visit Markham Orthodontics for a consultation. Call us at (916) 924-8970 for an appointment.

Independent Teens and Oral Hygiene

One of the benefits of an orthodontic patient being younger is that it is easier for parents to monitor their oral hygiene and eating habits. The older a child, the less control a parent tends to have over both diet and daily brushing and flossing. No teens want a parent looking over their shoulders when they floss their teeth! However, oral hygiene becomes doubly important when one is wearing braces, as there are more surfaces to hide bacteria and more opportunities for food to get stuck in the teeth.

If your teen is starting a course of orthodontic braces, we highly encourage parents to assist and monitor their teens closely during the transition period. After a healthy routine is established, feel free to encourage independence-as-usual. This can mean buying your teen a variety of orthodontic flossing tools and letting them try different products before they decide which works best. You may even want to buy your teen a water flosser (oral irrigator) if they struggle with managing flossing picks.

It’s also important to discuss the new dietary restrictions that come with braces. Have a discussion about foods that may damage braces, make a list of “banned” items or activities, and discuss why it’s important to comply with the changes.

If your teen starts wearing Invisalign, help him or her put together an oral hygiene bag that includes: a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a case for the aligners. This bag must now go everywhere with your child, as he or she will need to brush and floss the teeth after meals and beverages (everything except plain water).

Scheduling Office Visits

Teen braces require visits every four weeks, which can be a challenge for a teenager with a busy schedule of graduation credit classes and after-school activities. If a teenager is already driving himself to and from school, however, this can be a plus for parents. Independent transportation allows a patient to schedule and maintain appointments without affecting a parent’s schedule. If your teen wears braces and does his office visits solo, we can follow up with parents to make sure lines of communication stay open. If any problems develop, we will let you know so you can discuss them with your teen. For example, if we see signs that oral hygiene may be slipping, we will let you know.

Choosing Between Braces and Invisalign

If your child qualifies for Invisalign, you can bet he or she will vote for clear aligners over braces. However, Invisalign requires a high level of patient compliance. If your teen has struggled with changes to his/her routine in the past, or has been lax in their oral hygiene, Invisalign may not be the best choice.  A patient who can’t adjust to wearing the aligners 20-22 hours of the day should consider braces instead.

Speed Up Your Treatment with Accelerators

If your teen is in a hurry to complete their course of braces or Invisalign faster than the initial treatment plan requires, we have accelerators that can usually achieve this. AcceleDent and Propel provide gentle vibrations that stimulate the bone and encourage faster movement of the teeth. If this is of interest to you, ask about it during your consultation and we will explain the treatments.

Are you interested in a consultation for teen braces, Sacramento CA? Visit Markham Orthodontics for a consultation. We will examine your child and take x-rays to diagnose any alignment or bite issues and explain your options for treatment. Call us at (916) 924-8970 for an appointment.