Braces 101: A Parent's Guide to Braces for Teens

July 1, 2024

Orthodontic care is crucial during adolescence, not only for dental health but also for boosting self-esteem. Braces are a cornerstone of orthodontic treatment, designed to correct misalignments and enhance both dental function and aesthetics. For parents navigating this journey with their teens, understanding the nuances of braces is essential to making informed decisions about their oral health.

What are Braces?

Braces are orthodontic appliances used to straighten and align teeth. They consist of brackets bonded to the teeth and connected by archwires. Braces exert gentle pressure on teeth over time, gradually moving them into the desired positions. This process helps correct crowded teeth, gaps, overbites, underbites, and other dental misalignments.

Types of Braces

  1. Traditional Metal Braces: These are the most common type, made of high-grade stainless steel brackets and wires. They are effective for treating severe misalignments and are typically the most affordable option.
  2. Ceramic Braces: Similar in shape and size to traditional braces but with clear or tooth-colored brackets. Ceramic braces blend more naturally with the teeth, offering a less noticeable appearance compared to metal braces.
  3. Clear Aligners (e.g., Invisalign): Clear aligners are removable trays made of transparent plastic. They are custom-made to gradually shift teeth into place. Clear aligners are popular among teens and adults for their discreet appearance and flexibility.


Choosing the Right Type

Selecting the appropriate braces depends on various factors, including the severity of the orthodontic issue, aesthetic preferences, and lifestyle considerations. During an initial consultation with an orthodontist, parents and teens can discuss these factors to determine which type of braces best suits their needs.

Benefits of Braces for Teens

  • Improving Dental Health

Braces contribute significantly to improved dental health by correcting misalignments that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and abnormal wear on tooth surfaces. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean and maintain, reducing the risk of oral health issues in the future.

  • Enhancing Confidence

A straighter smile can have a profound impact on a teen's self-esteem and social confidence. Feeling proud of their smile encourages positive social interactions and boosts overall self-image, which is crucial during the formative teenage years.

  • Long-Term Oral Health

Addressing dental misalignments early with braces not only improves immediate dental function but also prevents more severe issues later in life. Well-aligned teeth contribute to better overall oral health and reduce the likelihood of needing extensive dental treatments in the future.

Getting Started with Braces

  • Initial Consultation

The braces journey begins with an initial consultation with an orthodontist. During this visit, the orthodontist conducts a thorough examination of the teen's teeth, gums, and jaws. X-rays and impressions may also be taken to assess the current dental condition and plan for treatment.


  • Treatment Planning

Based on the consultation findings, the orthodontist develops a personalized treatment plan tailored to the teen's specific orthodontic needs. This plan outlines the type of braces recommended, the estimated duration of treatment, and the expected results.

  • Preparing for Braces

Before braces are placed, the orthodontist may recommend preliminary dental procedures such as teeth cleaning or cavity filling to ensure optimal oral health before treatment begins. Teens and parents need to discuss expectations and any concerns they may have about the braces process.

Life with Braces:

  • Day-to-Day Experience

Wearing braces involves adjustments in daily routines, particularly in eating and oral hygiene practices. Teens should avoid sticky, hard, or sugary foods that can damage braces or get stuck in them. Cutting food into smaller pieces and choosing softer options can make eating more comfortable during treatment.

  • Managing Discomfort

It's normal for teens to experience some discomfort or soreness after braces are first placed and following adjustments. Over-the-counter pain relievers and orthodontic wax can help alleviate discomfort until the mouth adjusts to the braces.

  • Routine Orthodontic Visits

Regular visits to the orthodontist are essential throughout the braces journey. During these appointments, the orthodontist monitors the progress of teeth alignment, makes necessary adjustments to braces, and ensures the treatment plan is progressing as expected. These visits are crucial for achieving optimal results and addressing any concerns that may arise.

Common Concerns:

  • Pain and Discomfort

Teens may experience mild discomfort or soreness in the days following braces adjustments as their teeth shift. This discomfort typically subsides within a few days and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and by sticking to soft foods.

  • Dietary Restrictions

To prevent damage to braces and ensure treatment progresses smoothly, teens should avoid certain foods, including hard candies, chewy snacks like caramel, and crunchy items like popcorn and nuts. Opting for healthier alternatives and practicing good oral hygiene habits are essential during braces treatment.

  • Emergency Care

While rare, emergencies such as broken brackets or wires may occur during braces treatment. Teens need to contact their orthodontist promptly for advice and schedule an emergency appointment if necessary. Handling orthodontic emergencies promptly helps prevent delays in treatment progress and ensures comfort throughout the braces journey.

After Braces: Retainers and Maintenance

  • Wearing Retainers

After braces are removed, the orthodontic treatment isn't complete. Retainers are custom-made appliances designed to maintain the new alignment of teeth. They are typically worn full-time initially and then at night as directed by the orthodontist to prevent teeth from shifting back to their original positions.

  • Post-Treatment Care

Teens should continue practicing good oral hygiene habits after braces are removed, including brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash as recommended. Routine dental check-ups are essential to monitor oral health and detect any issues early on.

  • Monitoring Oral Health

Regular dental visits remain crucial even after braces treatment is complete. Dentists can assess the stability of the teeth alignment, monitor oral hygiene practices, and address any concerns or questions that may arise post-treatment. Ongoing dental care helps ensure long-term dental health and a lasting, confident smile.

Final Word:

In conclusion, braces play a vital role in enhancing both the aesthetics and functionality of a teen's smile. By understanding the benefits, processes, and considerations involved in braces treatment, parents can support their teens effectively throughout this transformative journey. Encouraging good oral hygiene practices, maintaining regular orthodontic visits, and following the orthodontist's recommendations contribute to achieving a healthy, beautiful smile that lasts a lifetime.

Ready to give your teen the gift of a confident smile? At Sharp Orthodontics, we specialize in personalized braces treatments that cater to your child's unique dental needs. Schedule a consultation today to discover how our experienced team can transform their smile and enhance their oral health. Together, let's start the journey towards a straighter, healthier smile that they'll proudly share for years to come.


How long does braces treatment typically last for teens?

Brace treatment duration varies based on individual needs. On average, it can range from 18 months to 3 years, depending on the complexity of the orthodontic issues.

Are braces painful?

Initially, there may be some discomfort or soreness as the teeth adjust to the pressure of braces and during adjustments. However, over-the-counter pain relievers and orthodontic wax can help manage any discomfort.

Can my teen still play sports or musical instruments with braces?

Yes, with proper precautions. Your orthodontist can provide advice on wearing mouthguards for sports and using protective covers for musical instruments to prevent damage to braces.

What foods should my teen avoid while wearing braces?

Sticky, hard, or chewy foods should be avoided as they can damage braces or get stuck in them. Examples include caramel, popcorn, nuts, and hard candies.

How do I clean braces effectively?

Brushing after every meal and using interdental brushes or floss threaders to clean between braces and teeth are crucial. Your orthodontist may recommend specific oral hygiene products to maintain cleanliness and prevent plaque buildup.

Get in Touch!

(417) 888-3030

1524 E Bradford Pkwy, Springfield, MO 65804

(417) 337-8020

203-C Buccaneer Blvd. Branson, MO 65616

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