Not all children (or indeed, all people) need braces. But for those who do, our Empress Walk Dental orthodontists typically recommend beginning treatment sometime between the ages of seven and 14 years old. In fact, the best time for someone to get braces is between the ages of 10 and 14 years old because the permanent teeth have been erupting, but the mouth and head are still growing, which means that the teeth will be easier to straighten.
Many of our young patients are treated for their malocclusions with space maintainers, braces, retainers, or some combination of these. Space maintainers are worn for a specified amount of time because they are essentially placeholders that keep the patient’s teeth from moving into open spaces where the patient is lacking a tooth, usually due to traumatic loss or extraction. The time a patient spends in fixed braces will vary according to their individual needs, but the average child or adolescent spends around 24 months wearing braces, and the average adult typically spends 28 months wearing them. As for retainers, our orthodontists advise our patients to wear them as long as they would like for their teeth to stay straight. Teeth have a tendency to move within the mouth over the years unless they are given a reason to remain where they are, which is where the retainer comes in.
The best time to treat malocclusions and other orthodontic issues is during childhood and adolescence simply because the teeth and mouth are still growing and therefore it is easier to alter their course. This does not mean, however, that adults cannot still benefit from orthodontic treatment. On the contrary, our orthodontists do work with plenty of adults to improve their overbites, underbites, jaw-joint disorders, crowded/crooked teeth, and incorrect jaw positions. The only caveat is that because adults have finished growing, it can take much longer to treat their problems, and treatments may be more expensive and more uncomfortable. In some cases, surgical intervention may be required to achieve the patient’s goals.
Adults who have healthy gums and teeth do not have much to worry about, but adults who are experiencing periodontal disease should be treated for that prior to beginning orthodontic treatment in order to avoid potential complications like tooth loss or gum damage. Our Empress Walk Dental dentists and orthodontists can help with both periodontal problems and orthodontic treatments at our comprehensive practice. This is more convenient for our patients, who appreciate that we are a “one-stop shop” for their dental and orthodontic needs.
Just as every patient is different, so too are the treatment plans for each patient. Therefore, it is impossible for us to tell you how long your treatment will last without first knowing the details of your situation and giving you a consultation. Several factors play into determining length of treatment, including the patient’s age (the older the patient, the longer the treatment), the complexity of the bite or spacing issue(s), etc. The average patient wears braces for a period of 1-3 years, and then a retainer for approximately 1 year after that to make sure the teeth don’t shift out of their new positions. In some cases, patients must use a retainer at night for the remainder of their lives in order to keep their teeth straight.
Those orthodontic devices that are designed to be worn only for short periods of time, such as occlusal splints associated with reconstructive oral surgery, mouth guards, etc., should only be worn for the specific purpose for which they were created (contact sports and other physical activity, oral surgery, etc.).
The length of time a patient will need to wear a sleep disorder appliance varies based on the progression of their disorder – the more severe the disorder, the longer the patient will remain in treatment. When you come in for your consultation, your Empress Walk Dental orthodontist will be happy to evaluate your current situation and recommend a treatment plan that will be a good fit for you.