It’s time to bring an end to the age of the “snaggle tooth” and turn on that charming smile. However, getting orthodontic treatment is about much more than improving your appearance. The health of your teeth, gums, and jaws could depend on it.
Previously, braces were something that adorned the teeth of just middle and highschoolers. Now, it seems like orthodontists are pushing the age range to include children and even adults who had been out of those school hallways for years. New technologies and treatments have emerged in the last decade, often confusing what little information people had about orthodontics.
It’s time to reexamine when is truly the best time to get orthodontic treatment and why.
Orthodontics are based on the premise that with guided constant pressure which is frequently adjusted, the teeth can be guided into positions which mirror ideal alignment and fix issues in the patient’s mouth, such as an over or under bite. This was traditionally done with braces, a system of metal or porcelain brackets affixed to the teeth and metal wire which connected them. There were additional treatments like the use of an expander or rubber elastics to correct alignment and space problems. Though braces are still used today, there are a range of newer treatment technologies like Invisalign or lingual wires that run along the inside of your teeth, hidden from view. However, the science behind it remains the same, slowly pushing teeth into the correct positions over time.
Though people of any age can benefit from orthodontic treatment, most professionals suggest that the ideal timing would be between the ages of 10 and 15. During this time, most, if not all, of the permanent teeth have grown in, giving an accurate view of any problems or issues which need to be treated. Additionally, the mouth and head are still forming, making any straightening or adjusting easier. Though older patients see equally positive results from orthodontic treatment, the time for which they might have to wear braces or Invisalign might be longer, as the body is more formed and resistant to change.
It is interesting to note, however, that many pre-teens and teenagers try to avoid orthodontic treatment as this multi-year plan may alter their physical appearance temporarily, at a time in which adolescents are self-conscious about their looks. Older patients are more willing to invest the time as they can see the long-term implications of their temporary discomfort, especially if their uneven teeth have been a sore spot for years.
Maintaining braces and aligners requires some extra work on top of your regular dental routine. Brackets and wires easily trap food and make brushing and flossing time consuming and difficult. Aligners require regular rinsing, cleaning, soaking, and brushing to keep your plates from becoming bacteria infested, often sensed with a foul smell. Most wouldn’t complain about the extra time and effort that it takes to maintain your orthodontics, however, some children, especially young ones, have a difficult time with self-discipline and responsibility. This could result in tooth decay, permanent stains on teeth, or a prolonged treatment period.
Physiologically, the best time to get orthodontic treatment is in your early teen years, however, due to a number of circumstances, like finances, self-doubt, level of responsibility, or other scenarios, you might find yourself with the decision to straighten your teeth later in life. Remember that it is never too late to strive towards that perfect smile, and if you have any doubts, to consult your dentist or orthodontist. He or she will be able to advise about your treatment options and timelines according to your unique situation.