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Braces and your teenager: What are your options?

Braces as a fashion statement

Teens who need braces these days have a variety of options available to them. What you choose for your teenager will depend on his or her particular needs and your orthodontist's recommendations.

Are you considering orthodontic treatment for your teenager? Braces have come a long way, and there are more options than ever. Before you commit to a course of treatment with an orthodontist make sure to compare the choices available and find out what to expect from treatment. Most reputable orthodontists will give a free consultation with no obligation.

1

Traditional metal braces

Braces are made of tiny metal brackets glued directly to the surface of each tooth. They hold thin, strong wires that sit in bracket slots, held in place by small elastic bands. Gentle pressure on the wires causes teeth to move. Traditional brackets are made of stainless steel, a versatile and long-lasting material. Because metal brackets are the industry standard, they are often the least expensive option.

2

Clear ceramic braces

A popular alternative, particularly among older teens and adults, is braces that use clear or tooth-colored ceramic brackets like the Damon Clear brand. They are a bit less noticeable than traditional metal brackets. They are stain-resistant, although people who smoke or drink coffee or other dark liquids may eventually notice some discoloration. While some ceramic brackets still use small elastic ties to hold the wire in place, some have a channel that holds the wire in place. This type of bracket is called "self-ligating." Ceramic brackets may not be appropriate to correct all kinds of orthodontic problems, and may be a bit more expensive.

3

Lingual braces

These are braces that go behind the teeth, called "lingual" braces. Not all orthodontists offer this option, since special training and expertise is required. Not all orthodontic issues can be properly treated with lingual braces. Adjustments and treatment may take longer as compared to traditional braces, and may be more expensive.

4

Invisible clear plastic trays

Another option for orthodontic treatment comes in the form of clear plastic trays, like the Invisalign brand. A series of trays are created, using a mold of your teeth as the starting place. Trays are changed every few weeks as teeth move. Trays may be able to successfully correct mild to moderate orthodontic problems. Like any removable orthodontic appliance, trays can only move teeth when they are worn as prescribed.

Accessory options

Braces can make a fashion statement! Gold-colored metal brackets are available, as well as brackets in the shapes of hearts, stars and flowers. Tiny rubber bands that hold wires to brackets come in a rainbow of colors. These rubber bands are changed at every appointment, so patients can accessorize according to season in colors to match wardrobe, school colors or holidays.

Bottom Line

Consult an orthodontist for an evaluation of individual problems and how they can best be corrected. Orthodontists have two to three years of additional training beyond dental school in the treatment of misaligned or crooked teeth and facial development. They not only improve the look of your teeth, but ensure that they fit together properly when you bite and chew.

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