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Smile Elements Orthodontics Blog

Orthodontic Treatment for Teens: Here's Everything You Need to Know

Posted by Dr. Hisham Badawi | January 22 2020

We know that being a teenager can be difficult without throwing crooked teeth into the mix. When orthodontic treatment becomes a must, it’s important that your teen has all the right information in order to make the most of it, and get the best possible results!

This guide will go over why more and more teenagers are opting for braces, how braces have the potential to improve their confidence and general quality of life, as well as all the important tips your teenager will need to be fully prepared for their treatment.


  • So, Why Are More Teenagers Getting Braces?

You might be a little surprised when your teenager approaches you asking for braces. Traditionally, young adults have been a little more hesitant to pursue orthodontic treatment due to the aesthetic implications. Metal braces can really cramp their style for a few years - so if they’re asking for them, they must be taking their oral health seriously!

So - why the sudden change? The bottom line is, teenagers are typically looking for acceptance. Aside from just that, one thing they usually want above all else is to feel confident in their own skin. Straight teeth have a funny way of making that happen! So many studies have come up in recent years linking great smiles to feelings of self-worth and value, and making the decision to get braces is the first step towards this self-esteem boost.

If your teen is actively interested in pursuing this goal, you should be happy and proud!


  • Their Friends Have Them
3 Teenage girls laughing and hugging


There’s certainly comfort in numbers, especially as a young person. Making the decision to get braces is often made easier if they see others at their school wearing them, and when their close friends have them, it’s even better.

Friends can also offer encouragement as far as describing how the process really goes, their own personal experience, and ultimately ensuring them that it isn’t as bad as they think! Everyone gets nervous about the concept of braces, but if they’re able to share the experience with their peers, every step of the journey becomes just a little bit easier.


  • It’s An Easy Way To Be Healthy
Family of four sitting on the dining table enjoying a healthy meal

Not to contribute to the ‘teenagers are lazy” stereotype, as this isn’t necessarily true, but straightening your teeth can be one of the best and easiest ways to take care of your oral health long term!

Orthodontic treatment itself is also quite easy. Once they get over the initial discomfort the first few days have to offer, treatment is basically in the hands of their orthodontist. All they have to do is follow their instructions, be a little more careful than normal, and stick to a good oral hygiene routine that will keep them clean and intact. You’d be surprised by how easy it is to care for braces - eventually it’ll become second nature to them.

With combining the perks of ease and great results, it’s no wonder more teenagers than ever are gravitating towards this option.


  • How Can I Make Sure My Teen Gets The Most Out of Their Treatment?

Now that we know why they pursue treatment, we should talk about how you can make sure they get the most out of their orthodontic journey. As a parent you’ll want to partially monitor their treatment and watch out for a few key indicators that will let you know whether or not they’re putting in a reasonable amount of effort, and listening to their orthodontist. Below we’ll go over all of the important tips and bits of knowledge that you and your teen will need to get them through treatment!


  • First Things First: Let Them Know You’re There For Them, and They’re Not Alone


Mother hugging teenage son

Orthodontic treatment can be awkward! Especially the first few days after your teen gets their braces put on, you’ll want to make an effort to be extra sensitive to their situation. They’ll be juggling a new appearance and a little discomfort, and may be stressed out with all the aesthetic changes happening.

Being there for them and letting them know they aren’t alone can also be two different things, in this sense. Reassure them that so many other people their age are in their exact position, and hardly anyone at all is going to notice their braces, or whatever appliance they decide to go with.


  • Let Them Know They Have Options, and Encourage Them to Make a Choice They’re Comfortable With

Orthodontic treatment isn’t limited to just traditional metal braces anymore, even when it comes to teenagers. In recent years, Invisalign has presented itself as an extremely successful and viable option when it comes to straightening out dental irregularities, and is often considered alongside braces when it comes down to choosing a course of action.

If your teen does decide they prefer Invisalign, this method of treatment comes with its own connotations and expectations from the individual being treated. While braces are bonded to your teeth by the orthodontist and then left until treatment has ended, Invisalign is a tad more interactive. Due to all of this, it’s important that your teen understands exactly what is expected of them in order to make Invisalign treatment work for them.

Invisalign needs to be taken out for every meal, as the aligners cannot withstand the pressure of eating, nor the risk of them becoming stained or warped. They also need to be worn for a minimum of 22 hours a day in order to get the most out of them - your orthodontist will have a conversation with your child to ensure they understand that this is what is expected of them. Invisalign for teens also comes with blue compliance indicators, so you and the orthodontist will always know if they’re being worn enough.

Aside from the entirely separate option of Invisalign, there are actually different types of braces! Your orthodontist will be able to work with your teen to determine what option is best for them, and you should encourage your teen to think hard on what they think they’ll be most comfortable with.

These braces can be made of ceramic, wire and brackets, or plastic; we find that clear options can be very appealing to teenagers and have become quite popular due to their discreet appearance, so don’t be surprised if they feel more inclined to go in that direction!


  • Make Sure You’re Supportive During Treatment

It’s important to be firing on all cylinders when it comes to being supportive of your teen during this time - braces can make anyone self-conscious, and they certainly don’t make high school any easier.

Something simple you can do to support them is not bring any restricted foods around the house. As we know, orthodontic treatment can come with a pretty strict diet, and having items around that they can’t eat can be both tempting and upsetting. You can sneak away and indulge in secret - just don’t let them see you!

You can take this one step further and plan meals in a way that makes them feel included, and trying to get the whole family on board with being enthusiastic about it. After all, it’s only for a short while! They may or may not notice the effort, but either way, you’ll still be a great help to them during this awkward transitional time.


What Else Do I Need to Know?


Teenage girl wearing braces smiling

Aside from just going over treatment methods and doing what you can to help them through, there are other crucial factors that you can be vigilant in watching, and ensuring they’re following. This includes:


  • Check That They’re Brushing, But Not Over brushing

You’d think that the more you brush the better, but this isn’t necessarily true. It’s important to maintain a consistent brushing schedule in order to keep the brackets and wires completely clean, or just to keep their teeth clean in general despite the orthodontic treatment method they’ve chosen, but over brushing can bring on some complications.

If your teen is brushing too much during treatment, they can actually cause tooth sensitivity and gum recession. Remind them that it’s important to stay on top of their oral health, but make sure they don’t overdo it!


  • Make Sure You’re Both Listening to the Orthodontist

Your orthodontist will be both of your guides throughout this process, and you should ensure that your teen is following their instructions, and you’re aware of what’s expected of them.

Your orthodontist also went through a lot of schooling and training to become an expert in their field, and to treat all of their patients accurately in the best way possible. Your orthodontist has worked on a variety of cases and with a long list of patients, so in short, they know what they’re talking about!

If you and your teen are anxious for them to wrap up their treatment as efficiently and quickly as possible, follow all instructions given, and ensure that you’re asking them for questions and advice when necessary.

Topics: Orthodontics, Braces

Written by Dr. Hisham Badawi

An accomplished clinician, researcher, speaker and subject matter expert, with broad, in-depth and hands-on experience in many verticals within the healthcare space including technology applications in clinical practice, clinical research, biomechanics, bioinformatics, intellectual property, software development, clinical data sciences, and healthcare data privacy regulations.

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