We often have parents ask about orthodontic treatment for tweens and teens, as this is our most visible patient population. It may come as a surprise, but orthodontics can benefit children and adults as well! A beautifully aligned, fully functioning smile can be achieved for patients of all ages through the kind of quality orthodontic care we offer at Frey Orthodontics. Whether you are interested in learning more about early treatment for your child, braces for your teen, or orthodontics for you as an adult, we have got you covered with this guide to orthodontics for all ages.
Orthodontics for children
There is no exact minimum age for children to begin orthodontic treatment. However, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by no later than the age of seven, and we agree. At this age, most children will have a good mix of baby teeth and adult teeth, making it easier for orthodontists like Dr. Frey to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems early. This diminishes the chances of any dental issues becoming more severe and requiring more serious treatment in the future.
Early treatment, also called interceptive treatment, with Frey Orthodontics will allow us to:
- correct and guide the growth of a child’s jaw to help permanent teeth come in straight
- regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- create more space for crowded teeth
- help avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
- correct bad habits like thumb and finger sucking
- help improve minor speech problems
It is not always easy to know if your child may need orthodontic treatment by observing their outward appearance. Looks can be deceiving, and there are many dental problems that are only visible to a trained orthodontist. These are the kinds of things we will look for during your child’s initial exam, as they can be an indication that future orthodontic treatment may be indicated:
- early or late loss of baby teeth
- a difficult time chewing or biting food
- mouth breathing
- finger or thumb sucking, or other bad oral habits
- crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
- jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
- crowded front teeth from around the age of seven or eight
Scheduling a complimentary orthodontic exam with Dr. Frey for your young child is the first step in helping them achieve a healthy, beautiful smile for the future!
Orthodontics for teens
Do you suspect your teen could benefit from orthodontic treatment? Have you recently discovered that braces are needed to improve their smile? If so, you are both likely to have a lot of questions. You may be feeling nervous about the unknown, and your teen may be feeling worried when considering braces. This is an entirely common reaction, but fortunately, it is also a temporary one! The bulky, uncomfortable metal braces of the past have given way to the smaller, sleeker braces available today. Comfortable and stylish, modern braces are even available in a variety of styles, materials, and colors, to better showcase your teen’s personality and lifestyle.
Frey Orthodontics offers a variety of orthodontic appliances to patients in need of corrective treatment, with both fixed and removable options available depending on the individual case. These options include:
- Traditional metal braces
- H4 self-ligating braces
- PITTS 21 self-ligating braces
- Clear braces
- Invisalign Teen
- Clear aligners
The question we hear most often from our teen patients is, “how long will I have to be in braces?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer to that, since every case is different, and each patient responds to treatment in their own way. However, we can estimate the amount of time it will take to treat their smile. This estimate is generally based on a few common key factors.
Early treatment — As we outlined above, early treatment allows us to monitor the growth of the jaw and teeth, and recommend any further orthodontic treatment if necessary. By catching problems in the beginning stages, we are able to potentially cut down on the total time needed in braces by a sometimes significant amount.
What needs correction — Each patient will respond to treatment in their own way, and in their own time. What takes one patient only one year to correct may take another patient six months, or still another patient two years. The amount of actual treatment needed to correct the problem, and how your teen responds, is what determines how long the process itself will take.
Your teen — Teens play a major role in the success of their treatment! By sticking to Dr. Frey’s recommendations, taking good care of their appliance, and maintaining a healthy dental hygiene routine, they can keep their treatment time to a minimum. Compliance is a very important component of successful treatment, and can be a big factor in completing treatment as quickly as possible.
Orthodontics for adults
Many adults are now choosing to seek orthodontic care later in life, with about 1 in 5 current orthodontic patients over the age of 21. As we get older, we tend to place more importance on maintaining oral health, since we recognize the role it plays in our overall health. This is often a factor in visiting the orthodontist, as well as wanting to feel better about the appearance of their smile. Better treatment options are also often a factor, as modern orthodontics offers multiple discreet but effective ways to straighten adult smiles, including clear braces and clear aligner systems like Invisalign. Some of the most common issues we see in adult patients seeking orthodontic treatment are:
- a bad bite (malocclusion) causing the teeth to fit together incorrectly
- the teeth are too crowded, or spaced too far apart
- any abnormal jaw pain, or pressure that is caused by crooked teeth
- a desire for a healthier mouth and a more confident smile!
Adult orthodontics vs. orthodontics for children and teens
The biggest difference in treating adults or children and teens is development. In younger patients, the jawbones are still developing, making less invasive treatment more likely to be successful. In adults, these bones have stopped growing, which may mean more intense treatment is necessary, up to and sometimes including tooth extraction and surgery to align the jawbones. Other differences include:
Gum or bone loss (periodontal disease) — Adults are much more likely than children to experience gum recession or bone loss due to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease. This can be a consideration when mapping out a treatment plan. Patients with straighter teeth are much less likely to encounter gum disease, which is another reason we recommend early evaluations and treatment.
Worn or missing teeth — Over time teeth can become worn down and shift into different positions that can only be corrected with orthodontic care. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift and tilt, creating a bad bite and increasing the possibility of gum disease.
Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen — Many adults who received some orthodontic treatment as a child or teen never completed the process. There are also many former orthodontic patients who did not use their retainer as directed, resulting in teeth shifting back into their original positions. Whatever the reason, it is not uncommon for these adults to want to complete or redo their orthodontic treatment in order to get the healthy, beautiful, and functional smile they always wanted.
Orthodontic options for all ages with Frey Orthodontics
We recognize that children, teens, and adults will all have different dental needs, requiring a different level of attention and care. Dr. Frey has exceptional experience treating very difficult cases and can often offer treatment options not available in most orthodontic practices. Our state-of-the-art facility uses the latest technologies to provide high-quality care that focuses on patient comfort and efficient treatment results. We work diligently with each patient to ensure we recommend the most appropriate treatment for their specific case.
If you are in Naperville, Algonquin, or the surrounding area, and looking for more information on what orthodontic treatment has to offer you or your family, get in touch with us to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Frey. With two conveniently located offices, a wide variety of treatment options available, and experienced, caring staff ready to start you on the path towards a better smile, you are in good hands with us!