Early Orthodontic Intervention Can Help Your Teen Get the Smile They Want
Teens who are happy with their smiles have more success socially with their peers as well as in their school work and other activities, thanks to their increased self-confidence. Conversely, teens who are self-conscious or embarrassed by their smiles tend to struggle as adolescence can be a challenging time.
We recommend having your child’s teeth evaluated to see if there are any developing orthodontic problems. In fact, you can have your pre-teen’s smile checked out as early as seven years of age! The American Association of Orthodontists® recommends that a child has their first orthodontic examination when they are seven years old, so problems can be detected and fixed later when they are between 12 to 16 years old. If they have crooked teeth, tooth gaps, or bad bites, their smile is already in trouble.
Adolescents are often more open to wearing braces because that’s also when their friends may be wearing them, so they don’t feel alone. Instead, they feel like they fit in. Pre-teens and teens also have growth spurts, which is a great opportunity to align their teeth and have a proper bite (often with a shorter treatment time as their metabolism is so high). Another benefit of straight teeth and an aligned bite is that your child’s oral and physical health can improve.
It is easier to shift your child’s teeth and jaw alignment into place versus when they are grown because their facial growth isn’t yet complete. Once the teeth and jaw stop growing, orthodontia can be harder for them and tends to cost more.
Better Oral Health
Correctly aligned teeth help your teen speak more clearly, chew their food, breathe, and sleep better, and help them feel confident. Straight teeth are easier to clean, so they can prevent cavities and gum disease as well as headaches if their jaws are misaligned.
Your child might need early treatment if they have malocclusion from:
- Accidental injury or trauma
- Extended thumb sucking or pacifier use
- Dental disease
- Premature tooth loss
These can all affect tooth alignment, facial growth and appearance. Braces are ideal if your child has an overbite, overcrowded teeth, protrusions or gaps between teeth. But, in the age of social media and selfies, many teens are shy about wearing metal braces. Fortunately, ceramic braces are a great alternative as they are more discreet. If your child is younger, having colorful rubber bands can be a desirable aesthetic if their peers are also wearing braces, while older teens do better with clear aligners because they are hardly noticeable.
How do you know if your teen needs braces?
- They feel self-conscious about their teeth and lack self-confidence
- They have trouble chewing and biting their food
- They have teeth with too much space between them
- There is overcrowding in the mouth
- Their bite is off (malocclusion)
- Their jaws make clicking or popping sounds and are prone to shifting
Putting off an orthodontic evaluation can mean bigger problems for your child later on. We are happy to evaluate your child’s teeth and bite with an initial consultation. If they are younger, our orthodontist can assess their oral health and development. If problems are spotted early, they are usually less invasive and least costly to correct.
If your child has never had an orthodontic exam or they are exhibiting any of the issues we talked about, we strongly recommend scheduling a consultation to ensure healthy tooth and jaw growth. They deserve to have a healthy, confident smile, especially if they see their smile daily when sharing selfies and interacting with their friends!