Are you one of the millions of teens that panics when you hear that orthodontics is in your immediate future? Well, if you were growing up in the last half of the 20th century, it would be totally understandable. However, present day offers many alternatives that can be quite acceptable and even fun!
Braces are no longer offered in just stainless steel, but can include clear resin or ceramic options, there are clear aligner systems available, removable retainers in different colorful designs can be an option in appropriate cases, and there are even funky-looking braces shaped like stars, footballs and other shapes that come in different colors! And of course, the standard stainless steel option can be livened up with a vast selection of colored O-rings that can be changed at every appointment.
The first question that is asked by the anxious teen is, “How long will they be on?” The answer will depend on what the correction will require, if early phase one treatment is needed, and the single most important factor…Your cooperation!
Early first phase treatment might be needed to address certain skeletal, crowding and habit problems and will mean that the length of time in some form of orthodontic appliance will usually be longer than if we waited on braces to complete the alignment process. These first phase appliances are usually not seen or will look like a retainer similar to ones that are placed after all treatment is completed. However, early treatments, if needed, will usually reduce the time that a patient will be in the braces to finish the process and will almost always insure a superior result to a single phase of treatment with braces.
The overall length of treatment will be determined by what is needed to complete the treatment. Different patients might only require 12 months to receive an ideal result, while others might need an additional 18-24 months to complete. Treatment times can vary, but there is one very important thing to keep in mind. Compliance and cooperation with keeping the teeth sparkling clean and making sure the elastics that you are requested to wear are worn as directed. Teeth respond to movement better when the gum tissues are at their healthiest and shifting teeth from a poor bite to an ideal bite can only be done with excellent elastic wear, removal of teeth, or orthognathic surgery. It is ultimately your choice as to how long you will be in braces, so make the “least” of it by wearing the elastics the “most” of it!
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