Frequently Asked Questions: Teenage Orthodontic Patients (tm) Part 2

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    How Does Orthodontics Work?

  1. How does orthodontics work?

    You usually think about your jaw as being solid like a rock, but when you are growing your jaw is really more like clay. If you apply pressure to your jaw, you can get your jaw to stretch. If you pull your jaw apart, your jaw will get wider. If you push your jaw back, your jaw will slowly move back. Your jaw does not actually stretch. Instead, when you pull on your jaw, your jaw grows in the direction you are pulling. Still, the important thing is that when your braces pull on your jaw, the braces change the shape of your jaw.

    In the same way, if you push on your teeth, your teeth will move around in your mouth.

    The orthodontist pushes your jaw to stretch your mouth so all your teeth fit. He then pushes on your teeth so they are all in the proper places. If your top jaw is too small, your orthodontist can install a special gadget called a "palatal expander" to get your jaw to grow wider. If your teeth stick out, your orthodontist can install another gadget called a "facebow" to push your back teeth back. In that way, your orthodontist is able to move around individual teeth and expand your jaw so that all of your teeth fit correctly in your mouth.

    How Old Should I Be When I Go To The Orthodontist?

    Contents: At what age should I start orthodontic treatment, What happens if I wait?

  2. At what age should I start orthodontic treatment?

    You can get orthodontic treatment at any age. Kids as young as 4 are sometimes advised to start orthodontics early to avoid a problem later on. People as old as 90 sometimes get orthodontic treatment to fix crooked teeth. Still, orthodontic treatment works best and is the least painful new when you are 8 to 14 so we advise that you start orthodontic treatment then.

    Your jaw is growing the quickest when your are 8 or 9 so it is usually best to expand your jaw and reshape your mouth when you are 8 or 9. This is called "interceptive orthodontic treatment". Then you should wait for most of your permanent teeth to come in. Usually, your permanent teeth come in when you are 12 or 13 and so that is the best time to start full orthodontic treatment when you are 12, 13 or 14.

  3. What happens if I wait until I am older?

    You can get braces at any age so if you are too afraid, you can wait a couple of years. However, as you get older the treatment takes longer and hurts more. Your jaw is growing fast when you are 8, so your jaw is easy to stretch. If you wait until you are 12, the orthodontist needs to push a lot harder to expand your jaw so it hurts. By time you are 20, you may need surgery to expand your jaw.

    Cool dude got interceptive orthodontic treatment when he was eight. That way he will not have to wear braces as long, and his braces hurt less.

    Cool dude also got his braces put in when he was 12. He knew that when you are 12, your permanent teeth have just come in. When your permanent teeth first come in, they are not attached very strongly in your mouth so they are easy to move. As you get older, you teeth get attached stronger so it is more painful to move your teeth. Cool dude got orthodontic treatment when he was 12 since he wanted it to hurt less.

    Still, Dr Hatt, DMD notes that you can get orthodontic treatment at any age. It just gets more uncomfortable as you get older.

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