Dental Care for Teenagers

Adapting to their dental needs as your child transitions into adulthood

What’s the Best Age for Kids to Get Braces?

Life is full of age-related milestones for kids and teenagers, like officially becoming a teen at 13 or getting a driver’s license at 16. Getting braces does not fall under an absolute number in the same way, but statistically, most adolescents are ready for braces between 10 to 14 years old. Children will generally have most, if not all, of their permanent teeth between these ages, and their jawbones will still be developing. Jawbones in this state are ideal for braces because teeth will shift easier, and most bite issues can be easily corrected.

The age at which individuals need braces will vary from patient to patient. Still, a consultation with a UCDN orthodontist can make a professional recommendation to put your child, teen, or even yourself on the right track towards a beautiful, healthy smile!

Braces vs. Clear Aligners for Kids

When your child’s orthodontist recommends orthodontic treatment for your child, it’s essential to explore all available options to ensure their treatment plan fits their lifestyle. After all, braces aren’t what they used to be! Two of the most common options for braces are traditional metal braces and clear aligners. While both options provide the same outcome, the aligning methods differ, and one may be more suitable for some patients than the other.

Traditional metal braces are the most common choice amongst patients, providing reliable, cost-effective, durable orthodontic solutions. Even the most severe misalignments are treated with conventional metal braces. Kids enjoy the customizability of traditional braces because they get to choose the colors of the elastic ligatures on their braces. Color combinations are endless and can be inspired by school colors, sports teams, characters, favorite colors, and much more.

Clear aligners are a popular alternative to traditional metal braces. They provide all the benefits of traditional metal braces while being discreet, requiring fewer office visits, and allowing patients to eat, brush, and floss normally. These clear aligners require more diligence and attention than traditional metal braces, making them ideal for responsible patients who wear their aligners as recommended.

Are Aligners Good for Kids?

Recent technological advances have revolutionized the orthodontics industry, providing patients with various options for straightening their teeth. One of the most popular alternatives to metal braces is clear aligners. They are discreet, require fewer visits to the orthodontist, and can be removed, allowing patients to brush, floss, and eat without the interference of brackets and wires. These benefits appeal to kids and their parents, but this treatment option isn’t suited for all patients.

Although clear aligners are designed to be removed for eating, brushing, and flossing, they are meant to be worn full time – a minimum of 22 hours a day. Children often remove their aligners throughout the day and often forget to put them back in, misplace them, or remove the aligners due to the discomfort of a new set. This can lead to longer treatment time, more orthodontists’ visits, and more money spent on replacement aligners. Here are some pros and cons of clear aligners to consider before scheduling a consultation with an orthodontist:

Clear Aligner Pros

  • Clear aligners are nearly invisible – Aligners are discreet and are much less noticeable than the brackets and wires of traditional metal braces, making them aesthetically pleasing to patients of all ages
  • Brushing and flossing are made easy – Delicately maneuvering around brackets and wires can be time-consuming and frustrating for kids and teens. Aligners simplify the process by being removable, so patients can continue maintaining their oral health without limitations.
  • No dietary restrictions – The list of foods to avoid while wearing braces is extensive and forces patients to take a hiatus to enjoy their favorite sticky and crunchy foods. With aligners, patients remove their aligners and eat what they like!
  • Fewer visits to the orthodontist – Once a treatment plan is established, patients can independently follow it, changing their aligners as recommended. This leads to fewer visits to the orthodontist for adjustments or follow-ups. Additionally, aligner patients are less likely to visit the orthodontist for emergencies that traditional metal braces can cause, like broken brackets and damaged wires.

Clear Aligner Cons

  • Diligence is required – Without the willingness to keep up with a treatment plan, clear aligners cannot do their job, leaving patients with extended treatment times.
  • Learning to speak with aligners – During the first few days of having aligners, it may feel difficult to pronounce certain words. Thankfully, most patients adjust to the change within a week.
  • Clear aligners are not for everyone – Typically, patients can choose between traditional metal braces and clear aligners for a personalized treatment plan that suits their personal preferences and lifestyle. Patients with more severe tooth or bite issues are not always suitable candidates for clear aligners, as some problems can only be corrected with traditional metal braces.

Ultimately, you know your child best and their level of maturity, responsibility, and ability to follow instructions. If you are concerned that they cannot complete their clear aligner treatment as directed, traditional metal braces may be the better choice.

Schedule a consultation with a trusted UCDN orthodontic specialist to discover how traditional metal braces or clear aligners can benefit you or your child today!

Find an Orthodontist Near You

Your journey to a healthy, beautiful smile starts at a UCDN office near you! Our network of premier orthodontists has years of trusted experience treating kids, teens, and adults. Please view our list of convenient locations and schedule your appointment today.

When Should my Child Visit an Oral Surgeon?

While no specific age is recommended for an individual to visit an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, young adults between the ages of 17-25 are often referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to have their third set of molars, also known as wisdom teeth, removed. This age range is the optimal time to remove wisdom teeth because tooth roots have not yet fully formed. When improperly positioned wisdom teeth are not extracted promptly, nearby nerves, bones, and teeth risk becoming damaged.

UCDN’s partner network, Utah Specialty Dental Group, is comprised of trusted and established doctors offering comprehensive oral and maxillofacial surgeries to patients across the Wasatch Front. USDG understands the importance of choosing the right oral and maxillofacial surgeon to perform your child’s wisdom teeth removal. Their network of board-certified surgeons is highly skilled and experienced in a range of procedures, including wisdom teeth extractions. Find a USDG oral and maxillofacial surgeon near you today.