Frequently Asked Questions About Teenage Orthodontics

The blink of an eye.  That’s all it took for your little one to blossom into adolescence. A time of magic, wonder, and growth — on all fronts. 

At this momentous life’s crossroads, your teen’s oral health faces serious challenges. 

Misalignments, tooth decay, and gum disease are ready to creep up inside the oral cavity, ruining your teen’s pearly whites and destroying their confidence.

What we all need at this consequential age is a confident smile for a bright future. 

And Dr. Richard J. Lee, with his years of experience working with anxious teenagers, is here to deliver!

From metal braces to invisible aligners, Dr. Lee wields just the right tools to transform your teenager’s smile into an everlasting work of art.

“Set your children on a dazzling life path with teenage orthodontics!”

Why Should a Teenager Start Their Orthodontic Treatment Right Now?

By the time you hit your teen years, all your baby teeth have waved goodbye and your permanent teeth have taken center stage. This is a key point because orthodontists need those permanent teeth to work with. They are like the cast of a play that’s about to be directed to perfection.

Another awesome part about being a teen is that your jaw and facial structures are still growing and developing. It’s like your body is a construction site and your orthodontist is the site manager, directing everything to make sure the final result is just perfect.

Starting the orthodontic journey during the teenage years also gives us enough time to correct any issues before they become bigger problems down the line. Plus, you’re at an age where you’re more capable of understanding and following the orthodontic instructions, whether it’s about keeping your braces clean or wearing your Invisalign aligners for the right amount of time each day.


The 6 Most Common Dental Issues in Teenagers

Let’s dive into some of the most common dental issues that teens tend to encounter:

  • Tooth decay: You know how much teens love their sweet snacks and drinks? All that sugar can lead to cavities if you’re not careful about brushing and flossing.
  • Gum disease: This condition is often the result of poor oral hygiene, leading to the accumulation of plaque along the gum line.
  • Orthodontic issues: This refers to instances where the teeth exhibit improper alignment, leading to conditions such as overbites, underbites, crowding or excessive spacing.
  • Wisdom teeth issues: These late bloomers usually start making an appearance in the late teens. Sometimes, there’s just not enough room for them, and that can lead to all sorts of issues like pain, infection, or even damage to your other teeth.
  • Tooth discoloration: Consuming soda, coffee, tea, or using tobacco products can stain your teeth.
  • Sport-related injuries: If you’re a sporty teen, you’re at risk for mouth and teeth injuries. Always wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports to protect your smile!

The 4 Types of Braces Available for Teenagers

In the realm of orthodontics, several effective solutions exist for teenagers seeking to correct and enhance their dental alignment, such as:

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the time-honored approach towards straightening teeth. 

They involve stainless steel brackets and archwires, which leverage pressure to gradually align teeth in the desired positions. 

Their effectiveness, durability, and affordability make them a popular choice despite their noticeable presence.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces make an excellent choice for those seeking a more aesthetically pleasing alternative without compromising on the efficacy of treatment. 

They emulate the functionality of traditional braces, but utilize clear or tooth-colored ceramic brackets, providing a more natural look that blends with the dental profile.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are a type of orthodontic treatment designed to correct teeth misalignment and bite problems without the visibility that comes with traditional braces.

What sets them apart is their placement: they are fixed to the inside surfaces of the teeth, facing the tongue, rather than the outside. This makes them virtually invisible to others, offering a discreet option for patients who are concerned about the aesthetic impact of orthodontic treatment.

Self-Ligating Braces

Akin to traditional braces in their primary structure, self-ligating braces incorporate unique clips or brackets that secure the wire, eliminating the need for elastic ties. 

This design not only reduces their visual prominence, but it also enhances the ease of maintenance and may potentially expedite the treatment process.

How Long Do Teenagers Have to Wear Braces?

First off, it depends on what kind of orthodontic issue we’re talking about.  Some teens might only need a year or so if their teeth are just a little off-kilter. But if we’re dealing with major overcrowding or a serious overbite, that could stretch to two, or even three years.

Also, the type of braces matters. Some, like self-ligating braces, are designed to work their magic more quickly, while others, like lingual braces which are attached to the back of your teeth, might take a tad longer because they’re trickier to adjust. All in all, most teenagers wear braces anywhere between one to three years.

Can Teens Customize the Color of Their Braces?

Absolutely, they can! In fact, that’s one of the coolest things about braces these days. Gone are the times when braces were just plain old metal. Now, teens can choose different colors for the ligatures that go around the brackets of their braces. We’re talking about every color of the rainbow and then some!

Teens can go classic with their school colors, or maybe they want to mix-and-match their favorite colors. They could even choose colors that correspond with holidays or special events, like red and green for Christmas, or their team colors for the big game. It’s a fun way to add some personal flair and make the experience of having braces a bit more enjoyable!

Not all braces offer this option. For example, ceramic and lingual braces don’t have colorful bands.

Traditional metal braces are all about color. And the best part? Teens can switch up the colors every time they have an adjustment appointment!

Does Getting Braces Hurt?

Undergoing the process of getting braces does not typically involve significant pain. 

The procedure of attaching braces to the teeth is non-invasive and should not cause discomfort. 

However, patients may experience some degree of soreness or discomfort in the days following the application of the braces or after adjustments are made during follow-up appointments. 

This discomfort stems from the pressure exerted by the braces on the teeth as they initiate the process of realignment. The degree of discomfort varies between individuals and also depends on the extent of the required orthodontic treatment. Fortunately, this discomfort is temporary and usually subsides within a few days as the mouth adapts to the braces.

How Much Do Teenage Braces Cost?

The cost of braces can fluctuate based on several factors, such as your geographic area, the materials used in the braces, your dental or orthodontic insurance, and the complexity of the orthodontic work required. Taking into account these variables, the typical cost for teenage braces generally ranges from $3,000 to $10,000.

With dental insurance assistance, the average out-of-pocket expenditure for traditional braces and associated costs would amount to around $3,407.

Lingual braces typically carry the highest price, ranging from $5,000 to $13,000 depending on the extent of your dental insurance coverage. Some dental insurance plans extend brace coverage across all age groups, while others restrict coverage to adolescents.

While the cost of some braces can seem akin to a substantial investment, there are alternative avenues available for financial assistance, including:

  • Dental insurance coverage
  • Utilizing a flexible spending account
  • Opening a health savings account
  • Applying for dental discount or personal loans
  • Opting for payment plans offered by orthodontists

Are Invisalign Clear Retainers Available for Teens?

The Invisalign Teen system allows your youngster to embrace a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing path to a radiant, natural smile.

It differentiates itself from its adult counterpart by incorporating an innovative feature: a collection of blue dots, referred to as blue compliance indicator dots. These dots monitor how regularly your teenager is wearing the aligners.

Over time, with consistent use, these blue dots will slowly start to wear off. The wear pattern of these blue dots is the signal for the orthodontist to prepare the next set of Invisalign Teen aligners.

What Foods Should a Teenager Eat With Braces?

Despite a few restrictions, there’s a variety of foods your teen can enjoy with braces, such as:

  • Soft fruit: We’re talking bananas, grapefruit, oranges and the like. Even berries can work as long as you’re careful.
  • Vegetables: If they’re cooked or steamed until soft, you’re golden. Goodbye crunchy carrots, hello mashed potatoes!
  • Dairy: Cheese, yogurt, milk, and anything dairy-based is a big yes. Just steer clear of hard or sticky cheeses.
  • Soft grains and pasta: Your beloved spaghetti isn’t going anywhere, and rice or quinoa are still in the game, too!
  • Soft meats or tofu: Chicken, fish, and well-cooked beef should be okay, as long as they’re tender and easy to chew.
  • Eggs: Scrambled, boiled, poached — eggs are not only brace-friendly, but also super nutritious.
  • Smoothies: They’re super healthy, filling, and easy on your braces. Plus, the possibilities are endless!

What Foods Should a Teenager With Braces Avoid?

Here are a few types of food you avoid while wearing braces:

  • Crunchy fruit & veggies: You might need to say goodbye to apples, carrots and other crunchy stuff for a bit, or at least cut them into small, manageable pieces.
  • Sticky sweets: That means no caramels, toffee, or chewy candy. They can stick to your braces and pull off the brackets.
  • Hard foods: Crackers, nuts, and even popcorn should be avoided as they can cause brackets to come loose.
  • Tough meats: If you need to do a lot of chewing, it’s probably best to skip it.
  • Chewing gum: It can get tangled in your braces and create a mess.
  • Soda & sugary drinks: They can lead to plaque build-up around your braces, leading to stains or even cavities.

Should a Teenager Have Their Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, usually show up in your late teens or early twenties. Some patients have no problem at all with their wisdom teeth. They come in straight, no pain, and fit nicely at the back of the mouth. No need to have them removed!

But for others, it’s a different story. Wisdom teeth can cause issues like erupting at an angle, becoming impacted, or causing overcrowding in the mouth. This can lead to pain, potential damage to other teeth, and can sometimes even cause infections. In such cases, an oral surgeon or dentist will usually recommend having your wisdom teeth removed.