When most people think of braces, they think of awkward middle school years and taunts of “metal mouth.” Orthodontic treatment with metal wires and brackets is actually a marvel of the 20th century that was made widely affordable in the 1970s when dental adhesive made the process less painful. Clear braces entered the scene in 1997, making straight teeth more accessible and appealing than ever.
Because of the popularity of clear teeth aligners, it is no longer as obvious when someone is undergoing an orthodontic treatment. Are braces still a rite of passage for middle schoolers or are more adults getting treatment now? What is the best age for braces? While there is one right answer, any person at any age is able to benefit from treatment.
1. Early Intervention
Some children may be flagged by their dentist as being at risk for dental difficulties between 7-10 years of age. If your child experiences pain when eating, has crowded or very crooked teeth, sucks his or her thumb and is older than five years old, or has unusual tooth loss patterns, your dentist may recommend a visit to an orthodontist for early intervention.
Early intervention can prevent long-term problems because a child’s jaw is more pliable before age 10 which allows corrective action to happen quickly.
2. Traditional Treatments
The best age for braces is between 10-15 years old. Some permanent teeth have erupted but the jaw is still soft enough for orthodonture to be quick and effective. Most traditional treatments involve putting braces on the top and bottom teeth to ensure that the bite is even and that any underlying issues are addressed simultaneously.
3. Adult Aligners
Although you may not have had braces as a child or teenager, it is still possible to get a straight smile. While you can get traditional metal wire and bracket braces, clear aligners are very popular and accessible. In addition to cosmetics, orthodontic work can benefit an adult who struggles with frequent cavities, who has trouble making certain sounds when speaking, or who has trouble eating because of misaligned teeth.
Regardless of when you receive your orthodontic treatment, many orthodontists will recommend that you wear a retainer after your treatment to ensure the results. Younger children and teens who have had braces for a long time may not be as likely to regularly wear a retainer because they feel self-conscious or don’t understand the repercussions of failing to wear it. In this case, an orthodontic treatment of an adult has a higher long-term success rate.
4. Cosmetic Considerations
Cosmetic reasons are some of the most common reasons that adults and children choose braces. Crooked or crowded teeth can make you feel self-conscious in addition to causing real problems with your speech and your overall health. People who hope to have cosmetic braces often choose clear braces. Another benefit to this option is that it often takes less time than a traditional treatment.
5. Healthy Options
Did you know that crooked teeth can contribute to sleep disorders, swallowing problems, and chronic headaches? Misaligned teeth usually mean that your jaw is not well aligned which can lead to problems with biting and chewing. If you experience fatigue or pain when you eat, you may be dealing with an underlying jaw issue that could be corrected by braces or other aligners. Another simple benefit of straight teeth is that you can prevent tooth decay and cavities because you can more easily practise good oral hygiene.
The best age for a traditional braces treatment is 10-15 years old, but any person at any age can choose to get braces. There are a multitude of benefits for braces-wearers from a self-confidence boost to better oral health.