Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 02:14PM
The time has come--your teenager needs a bit of an adjustment, in the mouth that is. If you are considering braces, here is what you need to know.
Braces are used to correct the misalignment of teeth, space the teeth properly, and help the jaw grow to hold adult teeth. But, if you invest in the time and potential awkwardness of braces, the results of a new smile will last a lifetime.
Metal braces are the most common orthodontic technique. Metal brackets and bands are cemented onto the front of each tooth. A thin metal band, either silver or golden, is held through them. Traditional metal braces may cost less than using plastic aligners. Dental insurance may also cover some or all of the cost of metal braces.
Plastic aligners are clear and colorless. They fit directly over the teeth and are replaced on a biweekly schedule to slowly shift teeth into proper alignment. They are nearly invisible on the teeth. They cost about the same as metal braces and work at about the same speed.
Aside from the aesthetic benefit of plastic aligners, there are also some new benefits. They are approved for use in patients as young as 13, for a reason. The trays can be removed for meals and for daily oral hygiene. However, clear plastic aligners aren't just a walk in the park. They have to be worn for at least 22 hours per day or they won't be very effective in moving the teeth.
With metal braces, cleaning food debris and bacteria from the teeth can be done with interdental brushes. such as the Sunstar Gum Bo Betweens. At first it might be a little challenging, but not impossible. Clear plastic aligners can be removed from the mouth and cleaned with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Both metal braces and clear plastic aligners are effective tools for correcting a smile. They both require care and regular visits to the orthodontist. If your teenager is diligent and also suffers from lower self-esteem, clear plastic aligners may be the right choice. However, they have to really wear them. If your teenager is prepared to keep the area around her metal braces clean, that may be the easier option.
Guest blogger Jennifer Vishnevsky is a freelance contributor for Everyday Health, an online health lifestyle resource.