Although we often think of tweens and teens when we talk about orthodontic treatment, it is actually for patients of all ages. As a matter of fact, the American Association of Orthodontics recommends a child have their first orthodontic evaluation before the age of seven, and about 25% of current orthodontic patients are adults, proof that there’s no age limit on improving oral health! Unger Orthodontics is proud to offer quality orthodontic care that produces beautifully aligned smiles for children, teens, and adults alike.
Whether you’re looking for information on interceptive treatment for your child, braces for your teen, or orthodontics for you as an adult, we’ve got you covered. In order to provide you with more information about what we have to offer each age range, we’ve put together this guide to orthodontics for all ages.
Orthodontics for children
As mentioned above, while there’s no exact minimum age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by around the age of seven. By this age, most children have a mix of both primary teeth and permanent teeth, making it easier for experienced orthodontists like Dr. Unger to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems early. This lessens the chance of them becoming more severe and requiring more serious treatment later on down the line.
This kind of early, or interceptive, treatment with Unger Orthodontics allows us to:
- correct and guide the growth of a child’s jaw to help permanent teeth come in straight
- regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- create more space for crowded teeth
- help avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- correct bad habits like thumb or finger sucking
- help improve minor speech problems
It’s not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment by simply looking at them. Outward appearances can be deceiving, as many dental issues aren’t visible on the surface. During a child’s initial orthodontic evaluation with us, we’ll be checking for several potential problems that could indicate a need for treatment, including:
- losing baby teeth earlier or later than normal
- difficulties with chewing or biting food
- mouth breathing
- finger or thumb sucking
- crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- teeth that come together abnormally, or don’t come together at all
- jaws and teeth that aren’t proportionate to the rest of the face
- crowded front teeth from around the age of seven or eight
Scheduling your child’s first orthodontic exam with us is the first step in giving your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future. Amazing Smiles is proud to offer a complimentary consultation to all new patients.
Orthodontics for teens
If you suspect your teen may be in need of corrective orthodontic treatment, you’re likely to have a lot of questions and concerns. You may be feeling nervous, and your teen may be feeling worried when considering braces. This is a common reaction, but it should only be a short-lived one! Our team will set your mind at ease by showing you how the bulkier, more awkward metal braces of the past have evolved into braces that are smaller, sleeker, and far more comfortable than ever before. Teens are even able to show off their personality by choosing from a variety of styles, materials, and colors available
We offer a variety of orthodontic appliances to choose from, both fixed and removable. These options include:
The question we hear from teens most often is, “How long will I have to wear braces?” We don’t have a concrete answer for that, since treatment time is on a case-by-case basis and will depend on the severity and goals of each patient. However, we can estimate the amount of time it will take to treat their smile with braces, since this is generally based on a few common key factors.
Early treatment — As we talked about above, early treatment allows us to monitor the growth of the jaw so that we are able to recommend, and begin, further orthodontic treatment if necessary. By catching problems in the beginning stages, we can cut down on the total time needed in braces by what can sometimes be a considerable amount.
What needs correction — Different patients react to treatment in different ways. What takes one patient twelve months may take another patient twenty-four or even thirty-six months. The amount of treatment needed to correct a problem is what will determine how long the process itself takes. Treatment times will also vary depending on how quickly your teen’s body responds.
Your teen — Teens actually have a major role to play in the length of time it will take to complete their treatment. By sticking to our recommendations, taking good care of their appliance, and maintaining a thorough dental hygiene routine, they can help keep their treatment time to a minimum. Compliance is very important to completing treatment as quickly as possible!
Orthodontics for adults
It’s becoming more and more common for adults to seek out orthodontic treatment later in life. As we get older, we often better understand the importance of maintaining oral health, and we may also want to feel better about our overall appearance. Whatever the impetus, adults are able to take advantage of more modern treatment options, which offer discreet but effective ways to straighten smiles, including clear braces and clear aligner systems like Invisalign®.
Some of the most common issues we see in adult patients seeking orthodontic treatment are:
- a bad bite (malocclusion) causing the teeth to fit together incorrectly
- the teeth are too crowded, or spaced too far apart
- any abnormal jaw pain, or pressure that is caused by crooked teeth
- the desire for a healthier mouth, straight teeth, and a more confident smile!
The difference in orthodontics based on age
The biggest difference in treating adults when compared to children and teens is that in younger patients, the jawbones are still developing, making less invasive treatment more likely to be successful. In adults, these bones have stopped growing, which may mean the possibility of orthognathic surgery to align the jawbones. Other differences can include:
Gum or bone loss (periodontal disease) — Adults are naturally more likely than children to experience gum recession or bone loss due to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease. Patients with straighter teeth are much less likely to encounter gum disease.
Worn or missing teeth — Over time, teeth can become worn down and shift into different positions that can only be corrected with orthodontic care. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift and tilt, creating a bad bite and increasing the possibility of gum disease.
Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen — Many adults who received some orthodontic treatment as a child or teen never completed the process, or they did not wear their retainer as directed after completing treatment. Teeth that were straightened are likely to have shifted over the years. As an adult, they choose to complete or redo their orthodontic treatment to achieve the healthy, beautiful smile they always wanted.
Unger Orthodontics recognizes that adults and children have different orthodontic needs, and require different levels of attention and care. Dr. Unger will work closely with you to ensure you or your child receive the most appropriate treatments based on the particular needs of the case, and our team will guarantee you’re met with understanding and respect throughout the treatment process.
Why consider orthodontic treatment for you, your teen, or your child?
Straight teeth are healthy teeth — Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean with flossing and brushing, and may also help prevent other health problems.
A straighter smile can build confidence — Orthodontic treatment can help boost self-confidence, resulting in a better quality of life and sharing your smile with the world.
Untreated issues can get worse — Avoiding orthodontic treatment when it’s indicated can create long-term health issues that will end up costing you more time and money in the end.