Most adult teeth erupt between the ages of 6 and 12. When a child’s first permanent molars are present, the dentist will check to see how they work together. This is called a bite check. If the child’s teeth or bite need treatment, it’s best to get an early start. Treatment that begins while a child is growing helps produce the best results. Most treatment begins when patients are between 8 and 14.
The dentist will select the type of appliance based on the patient’s age and treatment needs, as well as how well he or she will be able to follow care and oral hygiene instructions. Braces are available for patients of all ages. Aligners are available for teens and adults.
What to expect
Most people wear braces or aligners for one the three years, depending on what conditions need correcting. Then they wear retainers that hold the teeth in their new positions. Your dentist will let you know how long you should wear your retainer.
Although a little discomfort is expected during treatment, today’s braces are more comfortable than in the past. Newer materials apply a constant, gentle force to move teeth and usually require fewer adjustments.
Do’s and don’ts of braces
- Keep your teeth clean when wearing braces. Brushing and flossing remove plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. If plaque is not removed regularly it could lead to tooth decay or gum disease.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed. Worn toothbrushes won’t clean teeth properly.
- Go to all of your orthodontic appointments. If you delay any adjustments, your treatment will just take longer.
- Keep visiting your regular dentist for cleanings and exams. Your dentist checks your teeth for loss of minerals in the enamel (called demineralization) and decay. He or she also looks for gum disease and changes in the oral tissues.
- Eat foods that could get stuck in your braces or bend the wires. These foods include nuts, corn on the cob, popcorn, hard candy, ice, and sticky foods like chewing gum, caramel, or other chewy candy. Ask your dentist about which foods to avoid.
- Eat too many sugary foods. This can lead to tooth decay around the brackets that could permanently stain or damage your teeth.
- Play sports and active games without wearing a mouthguard. A guard can protect your mouth and jaw from getting hurt. Your dentist can suggest a proper mouthguard to wear with your braces.