By Dr. Randol Womack
Ever thought about why you don’t see many seniors with braces in high school yearbooks today? Look at yearbook or prom pictures from the 1960s or ’70s and you’ll see many “tin grins”. You don’t often see that today. Why? Kids today undergo orthodontic care at a much earlier age in Peoria, Glendale and Phoeniz AZ and treatment is usually completed before their junior year when most yearbook and prom photos are taken. Some patients, with special problems, begin orthodontic treatment as early as age 7 or younger.
The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that all children receive an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. This is when the permanent teeth begin to erupt and most orthodontic problems become apparent to general dentists and parents. If orthodontic treatment is indicated, the optimum time to determine the best course of treatment and timing to begin is when the teeth and jaws are still growing.
At Affiliated Orthodontics, most orthodontic patients are treated when majority of their permanent teeth are erupted. Some, however, are treated early to encourage proper eruption of teeth and development of jaws that may be affected by hereditary factors and breathing problems due to allergies or enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
New Technology Makes Braces Fun and Acceptable
Braces are much more acceptable today than years ago and can actually be fun to wear. Brightly colored elastics are readily available that hold the wires to the braces. Kids can choose elastics with their school colors or a holiday color scheme such orange and black for Halloween. Wearing braces today is widely accepted as a rite of passage for adolescents. Treatment has become more socially acceptable and embarrassment less of a concern to many. Teens that undergo orthodontic treatment after their friends now have options that are less noticeable such as clear ceramic braces or Invisalign, a “braceless” alternative to straighten teeth.
Still Takes Time to Adjust
Undergoing orthodontic treatment today is much easier, less uncomfortable, and not as noticeable as years ago. But you still have an adjustment period. Food can get caught around braces and in wires, and flossing and brushing takes time to maintain good dental health during treatment. Teeth may be sore after adjustments but not as uncomfortable as years ago when heavier forces were used. Tooth discomfort can be controlled with Advil, Tylenol or aspirin if needed. The use of lighter and more flexible wires with metal alloys has reduced the amount of soreness or discomfort during treatment.
Worth the Effort
Undergoing orthodontic treatment to improve dental health and personal appearance has many benefits. In kids, adolescents, and teens, great smiles help build self-esteem so they are more confident about their appearance developmental years. Long term… a healthy bite sets the foundation for a lifetime of good dental health.