Teenagers receiving orthodontic treatment have always been a common sight at many schools and colleges around Victoria. While braces treatment is now more accepted by their teenage peers, there can still be resistance; knowing how to approach this problem may make your job easier.
Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for cosmetic reasons (although you will have a great smile at the end) – many times it is needed to realign the jaw, correct over/under bites, and help prevent major dental issues that could potentially arise in the future. Teenage years are the best time to take advantage of correcting these issues.
So what do you do if your teenager is adamant about not having treatment? As orthodontic professionals, we have a few suggestions to help bring your child in to treatment, as well as some of the most common concerns we hear from teens (and parents) during an initial consultation.
Teenagers can sometimes seem vague, but as parents, we usually know our children pretty well. Taking the time to talk, ask questions, and find out what concerns your teenager may have are all great starting points. The more you learn about their concerns with having treatment, the easier it is for us to give good case examples of how to address those concerns when you share them with us.
We hear lots of questions and concerns from both parents and kids during orthodontic consultations, but there has been a shift in the playground. As more and more teenagers have braces it has become more acceptable and verging on fashionable to have them.
“Braces are not cool,” “Brace-Face,” “Metal-Mouth” – these are regular phrases we hear about, and teenagers may be understandably worried about how their peers will react to seeing them in braces.
In this case, the Internet and social media can really help to relieve this worry. Does your child have any friends that already have braces, or children of those friends or relatives? Do they admire anyone at school or in your community that have braces? It may help to find a teacher, coach, or other adult that they trust and admire to encourage them and help them see the long-range benefits of having the healthiest smile possible.
Looking in the mirror right after getting braces definitely takes some getting used to. We have found that confidence often comes with time and familiarity for our patients. That’s why some of our patients choose to start their braces treatment during holidays or during a break from school. One week is enough time for teens to get used to the brackets and wires, allowing them to feel more comfortable before venturing back to school.
It’s true; some kids do experience minor growing pains shortly after adjustments, but this usually goes away quickly and a little pain relief can fix that (Check for allergies). Getting braces on or off should not hurt at all.
The average treatment times for braces are around 18-24 months. This can seem like a really long time, especially to teenagers, but visits are usually between 8-10 weeks. It may help to keep track of progress by creating a counter or calendar to work towards. We also encourage patients to take photos on their own (hashtag #braces #advancedorthodontics) to keep themselves motivated. We have some great before and after photos, so make sure to ask to see these at your initial consultation.
Parents of teenagers play a big role in the length of treatment too; they need to ensure their kids keep up with regular adjustment visits, maintain their dental hygiene, keep visiting their dental GP and use their appliances (elastics for example) as directed by the Advanced Orthodontics team.
Dr Hall and Dr Poon are both specialist orthodontists, and know the importance of keeping themselves educated and updated with the latest technology. Moving teeth takes precision and experience, which also helps ensure treatment times are as minimal as possible.
Teens realise that braces can be a burden on the family budget, which can make them feel anxious about going ahead with treatment.
Braces need to be seen as an investment in the future. Having straight and healthy teeth will ultimately not only help to prevent future dental issues, but it also will have a huge impact on your child’s success in education, career and relationships.
Some Private Health Insurance policies may cover a portion of the cost of braces, but not all insurance plans offer orthodontic coverage, and not all people have insurance. So we offer monthly, interest-free payment plans that cover the length of treatment.
When it comes to teenagers, as well as children, we know the concerns they face. We can offer advice, share the experiences of other patients, and make them feel comfortable and confident about having treatment. We will improve their smile, which builds confidence and self esteem, for the rest of their lives. #bracesarecool
In the first of this two part series, we looked at the main causes leading to malocclusion, as well as the issues to watch for in your child’s “bite.” In this second part, we will look closely at the individual issues more related to individual teeth. On the whole, we look at both the bite and teeth to ensure the optimal treatment plan for your child.
Crowded Teeth and Spacing Issues – While it can be obvious if there is too much space or not enough, there can be more to consider. Are the teeth too large or too small? Have they fully developed? Is one or more teeth missing? While an x-ray will show most of these issues, it is the experience of the practitioner that will allow for correct diagnosis and recommend treatment plan. Leaving these issues untreated can be unattractive, difficult to clean and may affect speech.
“Rabbit or Buck Teeth” – This term refers to when the teeth protrude out from the mouth, and is most noticeable when looked at from the side (profile angle) of the face. It can be associated with an overbite, but not always, as an overbite is when the upper jaw sits too far forward in relation to the lower jaw. Some may think this issue is “cute,” but it can lead to other issues and make teeth prone to accidental damage.
Missing Teeth – This leaves unattractive spaces and prevents other teeth from having proper guidance when they do erupt. There are certain issues you should be aware of with young children. Missing or early loss of baby teeth before the age of 5 and also late loss of baby teeth after the age of 6 should lead to a visit to an orthodontist. Being attentive to when teeth erupt or fall out, and seeing an orthodontist, will act as a preventative measure to decrease the chances of requiring reactive treatment when kids are older.
Impacted Teeth (in some cases also Ectopic) – This occurs when the space for teeth to grow into is insufficient. It affects the way the teeth develop, and can lead to development in an unusual direction. Often they will push through the gum into the mouth, with wisdom teeth being a good example of such a case. In children, canines are most common impacted /ectopic tooth , and the issue can be picked up and treated between the ages of 10-14.
Treatment of all these issues is recommended while children are young, but in some cases may not be necessary until the children are older or at all. Financial pressures also influence decisions as to when treatment will start and to what extent it will proceed. At Advanced Orthodontics, we take the time to work out your child’s treatment plan, based on all these factors, to provide you the best option at the right time. Use this information as a guide, but don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. We are always happy to advise you about the next steps, if needed, for your child.
A parent’s guide to children’s orthodontics – recognising bite issues.
As a parent, knowing what to look for and when to see an orthodontist can save you time and money in the future if your child needs orthodontic treatment. When to see an orthodontist is easy; from the age of 8 is the best time to see an orthodontist for the first time. Treatment at this early stage (commonly called early treatment) is rare, but tracking the growth guidance of your child’s jaw and teeth is preventative, ensuring your child, if necessary, receives the correct treatment at the right time.
But what are some of the main causes and issues that mean you should seek the expert and specialised opinion of an orthodontist?
Let’s start with the causes of a malocclusion (or a poor bite):
The number one reason for misaligned jaw and tooth development is genetics! Passed down from parents and grandparents, there is no way of avoiding it!
Accidents or severe trauma – a serious fall or trip, when still young, can have serious implications for your child’s jaw and tooth development
Early or late loss of baby teeth – teeth that stay in too long or not long enough can cause crowding, affecting the adult teeth coming through.
Prolonged sucking of thumbs or fingers – when adult teeth come, thumb sucking can cause misalignment of the teeth and may cause changes in the shape of the upper jaw.
Long-term mouth breathing (compared to nose breathing) is also known to cause malocclusions*.
So being aware of the causes is important, but for the majority, there is little you can do as a parent. Taking them to an orthodontist at age 8 should be your first step, as recommended by the Australian Society of Orthodontists.
Recognising issues with your child’s teeth and jaw development can be a telltale sign they need orthodontic treatment. In the first of the series, we will concentrate on bite issues, whilst in the second article we will look at issues that affect individual teeth.
Crossbite – Easy to pick, the upper jaw/teeth sits inside of the lower jaw, creating a cross bite. In general, the upper jaw/teeth should be slightly larger than the lower, and sit slightly on the outside of the lower teeth/jaw – similar to a lid on a jar. Crossbite commonly occurs as the upper jaw is less developed than the lower, causing it to sit askew. If left untreated, it can cause significant wear on both the front and back teeth, asymmetric growth and can lead to jaw joint issues in the future.
Openbite – As per the description, Openbite occurs when the front teeth cannot bite down properly, and the upper front teeth do not overlap the lower front teeth. As you can imagine, trying to bite, chew, eat food is difficult, and speech can be affected. A few causes include abnormal jaw growth, and persistent thumb sucking. This condition can contribute to Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which is where the patient suffers a painful jaw. Openbite, depending on cause, is best treated early!
Overbite – Seen when the upper front teeth excessively overlap the lower teeth and is a common issue. However, a deep overbite can be easy to correct and many patients can function adequately with an overbite unless it is quite deep. It can cause excessive wear of the lower teeth, damage to the upper gums and palate (roof of the mouth). When detected, an orthodontist will prefer treating a patient between the ages of 10-14 while the jaw and teeth are easy to manipulate.
Underbite – Less common than the overbite, Underbite is where you see the lower teeth extend past the upper front teeth/jaw (also called Class III malocclusion). The cause is overdevelopment of the lower jaw or underdevelopment of the upper jaw. If left untreated, it causes poor functioning of the jaw, molars that do not fit correctly and excessive/uneven wear of the back teeth and ineffective chewing of food. A little trickier to treat, it may mean removing teeth along with using orthodontic appliances. Early treatment allows an orthodontist to plan carefully to correct an underbite.
Use this as a guide to check your children’s teeth and jaw right now. If you notice any of these, it could be time to come and see us at Advanced Orthodontics. We can assess, give advice, and if needed, monitor their growth before treatment goes from being preventative to reactive.
* Mandibular and Maxillary Growth after Changed Mode of Breathing
Donald G. Woodside, Sten Linder-Aronson, Anders Lundstrom, John William. American Journal of Orthodontics July 1991
Taking records is the pre-treatment fact gathering process of orthodontics required to produce a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. Orthodontic records consist of x-rays, photographs and impressions or intraoral scan. Typically, two different types of x-rays are required – a panoramic x-ray and an cephalometric x-ray.
A panoramic x-ray is an x-ray taken from the front perspective of the face utilised to view the upper and lower jaw and to view tooth, root, and nerve position. This x-ray is used to determine large feature problems.
A cephlometric x-ray is a profile view of the face which is utlilised to determine the growth direction of the face in younger patients, to measure the angulation of the teeth, and to see how the upper and lower jaws relate to the face.
After x-rays, impressions of the teeth are taken to create a mold or an intraoral scanner is used to create a digital impression of the teeth.
Facial and intraoral photos are also taken for reference, to review tooth position, and any other issues that may be of concern to the orthodontist.
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A Herbst Appliance is a functional appliance utilised by orthodontists to stimulate growth of the lower jaw. It consists of upper and lower crowns with small rods attached to each crown. The crowns are cemented to the surface of your back teeth. The rods slide together connecting the upper and lower pieces of the appliance which postures your lower jaw into a forward position. You will be able to move your lower jaw forward, up and down, but you will not be able to move it backwards. As your jaw muscles and joints get used to the new position, you may experience soreness or headaches. This is normal and should improve within a week.
Eat soft nutritious foods during this stage. Avoid sweet sticky foods and gum as these tend to stick to the appliance increasing the risk of dislodging the appliance. Chewing on hard foods such as ice and nuts may damage the appliance. Brush your teeth at least twice a day for approximately 3-4 minutes cleaning around the crowns, pistons and screws. Take a toothbrush with you during the day or rinse after every meal if you cannot brush. If possible, floss between your teeth and the lower arms of the appliance. Rinse daily with a fluoride mouthwash.
If a crown becomes loose, if a rod bends, or if any part of the appliance breaks, call us right away.
For more information please speak to Dr Geoffrey Hall or Dr Martin Poon at Advanced Orthodontics.
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