Most teens and parents usually come in seeking straight teeth and a healthy bite. Options for treatment range from regular metal braces to more discreet options of clear outside braces to a clear aligner system such as Invisalign.
We get this question asked by parents almost every day. This age can be divided into early (12-15 years), middle (15-16 years) to late teens (17-18 years). It is important to realise these are approximate guidelines, and what is more important is not their actual age, but their bone age. This assessment can only be made when they attend for a consultation and with proper diagnosis.
Yes, if your son or daughter has an underlying jaw problem, it does make a difference when they start treatment, with earlier treatment leading to better outcomes.
This is the age when most teens have all their adult teeth through. Early teens are usually excited and looking forward to getting their teeth straightened. At this age, their jaws are still developing and there is still potential to correct narrow jaws, overbites and deep bites through jaw guidance solutions. What this means is by wearing a fixed or removable customized plate/plates, this can still address the jaw problems.
If there is a lot of crowding or spacing present, it may mean there is an impacted teeth. Impacted teeth are best identified and treated early. This is to allow for the teeth to naturally come through or at the very least, so the impaction does not worsen and start to damage the adjacent adult teeth. The best way to identify impacted teeth is through specialized x-rays that we do here.
Correcting the jaws where there are jaw problems allows your son and daughter to obtain ideal smiles outcomes.
This age may be too late to offer jaw guidance options if your son or daughter has an underbite. This is because the areas where the jaw bones connect with other jaw bones ie: sutures, start to harden. Often, in these situations, we may need to monitor his/ her growth till there are no further changes in the jaw position, before commencing orthodontic treatment, unless the adult front teeth are wearing down.
Some teens may not develop all their adult teeth till this age.
At this age, if your son or daughter has a narrow smile, it becomes increasingly difficult to widen the upper jaw. Correcting large overbites by guiding the lower jaw forwards also becomes much less effective.
While there tends to be fewer jaw treatment options, it is still possible to straighten the teeth and establish a healthy bite. It may mean accepting the jaw sizes as they are.
In other words, significant improvements in your smile are possible and achievable.
At this time, the jaw bones have mostly hardened. It can mean jaw widening and jaw guidance non-surgery solutions may not work, and teeth moving solutions only need to be used to create beautiful smiles, or to consider jaw surgery to correct the jaws.
Please note that if your crowding or spacing is just due to the teeth positions and there are no jaw problems or impacted teeth, then there is no difference in starting treatment as an early teen, mid teen or late teen.
If you have an underbite ie: where the lower front teeth are biting in front of the upper teeth, this may be the safe age where we can consider starting orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth.
In the past, there was only metal braces you could choose from. Nowadays, there are a variety of other appliance options you can choose, from clear outside braces, to self ligating braces, to invisible options like clear removable aligners ie: Invisalign®. Even the metal braces sizes have got smaller in size.
Which is the most effective and efficient for your smile and bite correction depends on the crowding and spacing present in your teeth and the type of teeth movements planned. Generally speaking, the above orthodontic appliances are restricted to mainly moving teeth.
Your choice of teeth moving orthodontic appliance would be determined in consultation of our orthodontist.