Getting braces is a big milestone in the lives of many. The process can be both exciting and utterly nerve wracking for a teen and their family. When it comes to teen braces, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered before the dental cement is applied and brackets adhered. And since getting braces is a long term (and often life-changing) commitment, it is important to plan for the process beforehand to make sure that this is the right time for braces.
Things to Know About Teen Braces
Getting braces is an expensive and time consuming process. Not to mention, the whole ordeal can be quite uncomfortable. As many adults might remember, being a teenager is already uncomfortable enough. This only adds to the importance of knowing when it's time for braces and not just getting them put on because it seems to be what "the other kids" are doing at a certain period of time.
Timeline for Having Braces
Teen braces on average must be on teeth for two years. It is about this length of time that is required to properly and safely move teeth and adjust jaw positions for a perfect smile. Countless factors play into this timeline, as any orthodontist will note. A teen may have a severe overbite which may lengthen the timeline, or an individual may have particularly sensitive teeth that cannot be moved as quickly as those of their peers. These are just a few examples of what may lengthen the timeline of braces.
Many of these things are unknown by the teen or family until they are in the midst of the orthodontic braces process. So while a family orthodontist may give an estimate at the beginning, it is almost guaranteed that the timeline will shift throughout the time a teen has braces.
This is why planning ahead for a teen to get braces is crucial for success. By picking the right time in their life, it is possible to minimize discomfort physically (and socially, because let's admit: No one thinks they look cool with braces). As long as a teen has had all their adult teeth come in and any necessary oral procedures have been performed (i.e. extractions, cavities filled, etc.) it is time to pick when to get braces.
Often teens and families want to get their braces sooner rather than later. Considering that the process takes years to complete, this makes total sense. To make this possible, it is important to schedule an orthodontic consultation at a young age. Even if the orthodontist recommends waiting for braces, having the preliminary exam out of the way will make it easier to know roughly when a teen will be ready for braces and begin building a relationship that lasts for years.
Other things to consider when getting braces
Does the teen play a wind instrument?
If so, be sure to consult their calendars or schedules if available. Getting braces put on is the most uncomfortable part and a teen will most likely be sore for a few days, so the appointment when braces are put on should not be scheduled for a time they need to use their mouth to play an instrument during an intense practice or recital.
Does the teen play sports?
If the answer is yes, it may be best to plan having the braces put on at the end of the season, not the beginning. When braces are first put on, teeth are very sensitive and any involuntary (or voluntary, depending on the sport!) bump to the mouth or jaw can be incredibly painful.
Does the schedule of a parent or caregiver allow for frequent orthodontist appointments?
As noted, getting braces is time consuming. This is partially due to how long the overall process takes, but also in regards to the frequent appointments needed to adjust braces throughout the years. Monthly, bi-weekly or even weekly (depending on the orthodontist's recommendations) must be panned for accordingly.
Talk to your Orthodontist
Remember, these are just some basic things to consider when making a plan to get braces. Most importantly, a teen and their family or caregivers should consult their family orthodontist to help them make the ultimate decision about getting braces. Proper orthodontic care throughout the process is key to a successful experience with orthodontic braces. (That, and ice cream on appointment days of course.)
Get help planning the perfect time for teen braces. Schedule an appointment for family orthodontics in Erie, PA today.