Getting braces may not be the first thing that your child is looking forward to in their teenage years. In fact, you may be met with eye rolls, sighs and the silent treatment at the slightest mention of the word. However, knowing when to consult an orthodontist is crucial in the development of your teen’s overall dental health. So, how can you tell if your teen has an issue that requires braces?
Common Orthodontic Issues
There are common problems orthodontists see when making recommendations for braces. Crowding and spacing are among the top issues many teens face. If your child’s teeth do not have enough space to erupt, they run the risk of coming in crooked. On the flip side, if your child’s teeth are smaller or if your child has a wide dental arch, there may be too much space between the teeth. Other orthodontic issues include:
- Overbite: occurs when the upper teeth substantially cover the lower teeth
- Underbite: occurs when the lower jaw extends past the upper jaw, resulting in the lower teeth sitting in front of the upper teeth
- Crossbite: occurs when some upper teeth sit behind the lower teeth, resulting in problems with proper jaw growth.
If you notice your teen starting to develop any of these common problems, it may be time to consider how getting braces may help correct the issue.
How Braces Work
Braces apply pressure to the teeth continuously over a period of time to gradually guide the teeth into the desired position. Traditional braces have brackets that attach to the teeth and act like anchors. Wires are attached to these anchor points and are adjusted accordingly by the orthodontist to achieve the best possible results for the patient. How long this may take varies, as each patient is unique.
Other Signs Your Teen May Need Braces
Aside from the common orthodontic problems addressed above, there may be other signs that may indicate a trip to an orthodontist, including:
- Difficulty biting, chewing or speaking clearly
- Biting the cheeks or roof of the mouth
- Irregular loss of baby teeth
These signs may be obvious or subtle and they may appear suddenly or gradually. No matter how they appear, if they are affecting your teen, action may need to be taken to help alleviate these symptoms.
Your Next Steps
Gone are the days of standard braces being your only choice. With the emergence of Invisalign and clear braces, patients now have a choice for how to correct their dental problem. Once you’ve established that a trip to the orthodontist is necessary, be sure to choose a reputable doctor to discuss these various options.