Many parents ask about braces for their kids, and the process can seem overwhelming. Today, we have more options than ever, from traditional metal brackets and wires to Invisalign®. Lots of options mean lots of questions. When you come in for your consultation, we will be happy to discuss what will work best for you.
BRACES FOR KIDS
Today’s parents often remember not being in braces until high school. Much has changed in the world or orthodontics. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) now recommends initial screenings at age seven. Why? By starting treatment sooner, not only can orthodontists identify potential problems sooner, but we can also work with your child’s growth patterns, moving teeth more gently than in decades past.
If your child is past age seven, don’t worry. We treat adolescents and teens of all ages, and we have plenty of options to ensure that great smile you are looking for. But we do recommend having your child evaluated as soon as possible.
PHASED ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT
When we start treatment earlier, we often do so in two phases. Phase I treatment begins as early as age seven, and can include preventative, interceptive, or modifying treatment. Orthodontic appliances such as palatal expanders, spacers, or retainers may be used to prevent or correct early problem areas. Orthodontists can correct a number or early issues with alignment, jaw position, and gums in Phase I.
Phase II treatment is when we place the braces on the teeth. This is done once all permanent teeth have erupted—usually by age 12. At this point, we will be able to identify crooked teeth, misaligned bites, and gaps. Phase II treatment takes advantage of children’s growth spurts to help reshape the bite and teeth positioning. This shortens overall treatment time and discomfort.
BRACES FOR ADULTS
Think braces are just for kids? Think again! At Smiles, we treat many adults too. Maybe you never had orthodontics as a child, or perhaps your teeth shifted many years after treatment. Or maybe a problem that used to be very difficult to correct is now easier due to changes in technology. No matter the reason, we are happy to meet with you to discuss your needs, wants, and options.
TYPES OF BRACES
- Metal Brackets and Wires: Stainless steel brackets are mounted to the front surface of the teeth, and the archwire guides the teeth into proper position over the course of treatment.
- Ceramic Brackets and Wires: Like metal brackets, ceramic brackets are bonded to the teeth and an archwire moves them into position. Since ceramic brackets are clear, they are less noticeable, making them popular with adult patients. Be aware that these brackets are more fragile than the stainless steel, and patients may see discoloring in the clear elastic ties between visits.
Another orthodontic option is aligner trays. We are pleased to offer Invisalign®, which is one of several manufacturers of aligner trays. These systems work using a set of trays to move the teeth. These clear trays are made of plastic or acrylic, and they are custom-fitted to each patient. Through minor adjustments to each tray, teeth are moved into proper position. The trays are comfortable and removable, but they may not be the best treatment option for more complex cases. Depending on the individual, treatment with Invisalign® may include as few as 12 trays, or as many as 48. Each tray is worn for about two weeks, and should only be removed to eat, brush, and floss. Invisalign® can work well for adults and kids alike, depending on the specifics of each case.