When most people think of orthodontics, the first image that comes to mind is an awkward teen in awkward braces. Even though modern orthodontics has made this an outdated stereotype, it’s a persistent one! So it often comes as a surprise to learn that not only is orthodontic treatment more flexible and affordable than ever before, it can also benefit children, teens, and adults alike. At Dudley Smiles, we believe that everyone deserves a healthy, beautiful smile whether they’re 8, 80, or anywhere in between. We proudly provide top-quality orthodontic care to patients of all ages in Issaquah, Kent, and the surrounding communities. Are you curious about what treatment may be available for your child? Do you feel your teen could possibly benefit from braces? Have you wondered if Invisalign could work for you as an adult? If you’ve ever wanted to learn a little more about what orthodontics has for every age range, keep reading below!
Orthodontics for children
Although there’s no minimum age for a child to have their first orthodontic visit, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have an initial orthodontic evaluation by the time they’re around seven years old. At this age, most kids will have a good mix of primary and permanent teeth. A thorough examination by an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Si gives us the chance to catch any potential tooth and jaw problems early, before they become more serious. When we see children early enough to initiate interceptive treatment, oral issues can often be diagnosed and corrected before they become severe enough to require more invasive treatment. Interceptive treatment is essentially early treatment that can help:
- correct and guide the growth of your child’s jaw so the permanent teeth are able to erupt in better alignment
- regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
- create more space for crowded teeth
- correct bad habits like extended thumb or finger sucking
- help improve some minor speech problems
It can be difficult to assess your child’s need for orthodontics by observing their outward appearance alone. Many orthodontic issues are visible only to the trained eye of an experienced orthodontist. When you schedule your child’s first visit to our Issaquah or Kent office, Dr. Si will assess their teeth and jaws. If he feels there is a need for early treatment, our team will work to create a customized plan addressing the specific dental problems your child is dealing with.
That said, there are a few things to look out for that could indicate the need for orthodontic attention, including:
- losing baby teeth very early or very late
- Difficulties with biting or chewing food
- mouth breathing
- finger or thumb sucking
- crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
- jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing
- teeth that come together abnormally, or don’t come together at all
- jaws and teeth that aren’t proportionate to the rest of the face
- crowded front teeth from around the age of seven or eight
Orthodontics for teens
Whether you’ve already been told your teen needs corrective treatment, or merely suspect it, you’re likely to be feeling a little nervous or apprehensive about it, wondering what to expect. We know committing to orthodontic treatment can be a little overwhelming for you and your teen both, and our team will do all we can to make this process as stress-free and rewarding as possible.
At Dudley Smiles, we have a number of orthodontic options to choose from, both fixed and removable. Today’s appliances are more comfortable and stylish than ever before, and even traditional metal braces come in a variety of styles and materials, with colored elastics available to let your teen customize their look to match their personality. For those who prefer a more subtle treatment option, we also offer Invisalign clear aligner therapy, as well as clear braces. Self-ligating braces are also an option, foregoing the bands for an innovative clip that helps reduce the amount of pressure being placed on the tooth, and requires fewer adjustment appointments overall.
The burning question on most teens’ minds is “how long will I be in braces?” Unfortunately, there’s no concrete answer to that because every case varies, and every patient responds to treatment in their own way. However, we’ll usually able to give a general estimate on treatment time, based on a few key factors.
Early (interceptive) treatment — As mentioned above, having your child seen by an orthodontist by about seven years old makes it easier to catch potential problems before they have a chance to become more serious. When we’re able to diagnose and treat oral issues in the beginning stages, we can often cut down on the total time needed in braces, sometimes by a significant amount.
The issue being treated — Because each patient will react to treatment in their own way, the total orthodontic process will vary depending on how quickly a teen’s body responds, and how much work is actually needed to correct the issue.
Expected patient compliance — Your teen will play a major role in their own treatment! By following Dr. Si’s recommendations, taking good care of their braces or aligners, and maintaining a good dental hygiene routine, patients can help keep their treatment time to a minimum. Compliance is essential to successful orthodontic results, so it’s important that teens be responsible and reliable during the treatment process.
Orthodontics for adults
More adults are choosing to seek orthodontic treatment now than ever before. In fact, figures show that around 1 in 4 current orthodontic patients are over the age of 18. This decision to undergo orthodontic treatment later in life can be chalked up to a few different factors.
One of the most compelling reasons for adult orthodontics is that as we get older, we often begin to realize just how important it is to maintain our oral health, because of how it can affect our overall health. Some adults are finally in a place where they can afford the time and financial commitment to straighten their smile, and want to feel better about their appearance. Modern treatment options are also a factor, as there are several subtle but effective ways to straighten adult teeth now available, like Invisalign and clear braces.
- traditional metal braces
- self-ligating braces
- clear braces
- Invisalign clear aligner therapy
Orthodontics can benefit almost anyone with oral issues, whatever their age. When the teeth are properly aligned, they’re easier to keep clean with brushing and flossing, helping to keep dental problems at bay. Orthodontic treatment can also improve a patient’s cosmetic appearance, boosting their self-confidence and giving them a lasting smile they’ll want to share with the world! And perhaps most importantly of all, our treatment options can correct orthodontic issues before they get worse, creating long-term problems that can end up costing you more time and money.
Dr. Si knows that adults, teens, and children will have different orthodontic needs that require individualized attention and treatment. Our entire team will work with you and your family to recommend only the most appropriate treatments. We’re dedicated to giving our patients the best orthodontic experience possible! If you’re in Issaquah, Kent, or the surrounding areas, and want to know more about what orthodontic treatment can do for you and your family, get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation. We’ve got what it takes to create beautiful smiles for your whole family!