Many teenagers undergo orthodontic treatment to correct bite abnormalities. While your teen may be grateful for the improvements later in life, he or she may be dragging his or her feet now. Since orthodontic treatment is an investment, you'll want to help your teen get the most out of this process. Here are some tips to help you out.
Help Them to Remember Elastics
Once your teen's braces are on, it's easy for them to assume that the wires and brackets will do all the work. However, many teens will not be able to fix their bites unless they wear elastics with their braces. While your orthodontist will have specific instructions, many kids need to wear these elastics all day (except while eating).
This aspect of treatment can be annoying to some teens, and they may shirk this aspect of treatment. However, not wearing the elastics regularly can actually extend treatment times. And if a child has braces on for too long, his or her teeth can become decalcified, and your treatment costs can go up.
In short, do what you have to in order to help your teen remember his or her elastic bands. Keep track of their wear time on a calendar. Keep post-it notes around to remind them. Also, have them keep a bag of elastic bands in the car or in their school locker so they don't need to wait until they're home to put them back on.
Ask Your Dentist About Extractions
Some teens lose their baby teeth too late, which can affect the locations of their primary teeth. To improve the situation, many parents opt for interceptive methods, like baby tooth extractions. Once a tooth is extracted, the dentist may use spacers to keep these gaps open for permanent teeth.
If your teen has braces, you may need to look into wisdom tooth extraction once they are wrapping up treatment. These teeth can ruin the treatment results, since many teens do not have enough room in their gum tissue for wisdom teeth. If these teeth aren't removed soon after orthodontic treatment, your child may need to wear braces again to fix the issue.
Follow Through with the Retention Phase
There are two main aspects of orthodontic treatment: the active phase—in which your teen wears braces—and the retention phase, in which your teen uses a retainer. Once your teen is done with braces, you may think that they will not need any other treatment. However, teeth tend to shift back to their old locations over time. In order to retain the results, make sure your child wears his or her retainer at night.
There are different retainers, so you should consult with your child and his or her orthodontist for preferences. For instance, if your teen grinds his or her teeth or has a bad gag reflex, then an Essix retainer may be best, since these clear plastic retainers fit like mouth guards. If your child has a small palate, then a Hawley retainer may be better, since it adheres to the top of the palate. If your teen is forgetful, then a fixed retainer is a good option since it is cemented to the backs of teeth.
For more information, talk to companies like Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics.