Updated on February 7, 2024
6 min read

Orthodontic Treatment for Different Age Groups

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What Does Orthodontic Treatment Fix?

Orthodontic treatment primarily corrects teeth and/or jaw misalignment. The type of treatment needed depends on age and the severity of the issues. 

Some common conditions orthodontic treatment can address include:

Malocclusion

Malocclusion (teeth misalignment) is when the teeth are not appropriately positioned in the upper and lower jaws. Some common types of malocclusions include:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Open Bite

Crowded Teeth

Dental crowding is when your mouth doesn’t have enough space to fit your teeth properly. This can lead to overlapping or misaligned teeth.

Jaw Irregularities

Jaw irregularities can also lead to problems with your bite. Bite problems can cause problems like difficulty chewing or speaking. They can also lead to headaches and facial pain. 

Orthodontic treatment can correct jaw irregularities and create a more balanced bite.

Types of Orthodontic Treatments

All orthodontic treatments address different issues. Here are some of the most common:

Braces

The most common teeth-straightening option is braces. They consist of brackets and wires that gradually move your teeth to their desired position. 

Different braces are available, such as:

  • Traditional metal braces — The most visible option that uses metal brackets and wires to straighten teeth.
  • Ceramic braces — A less noticeable alternative to metal braces since they have clear or tooth-colored brackets.
  • Lingual braces — These are placed on the back of teeth, making them invisible to others.

Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are another option for those who don’t want to wear traditional braces. They’re a removable and virtually invisible alternative to braces. You must wear clear aligners for 20 to 22 hours a day.

There are two types of clear aligners; in-office and at-home. Here’s a quick comparison: 

  • In-office These aligners require frequent in-person visits to a professional. A famous example is Invisalign. You’ll visit an orthodontist to learn more about your treatment plan.
  • At-home When you choose at-home aligners, your treatment will be overseen remotely. This option is also known as direct-to-consumer aligners. You’ll create an impression of your teeth and send them back to a laboratory to create your aligners.
  • Hybrid With this option, you’ll still need to visit an orthodontist. The aligners will be sent to your home, and monitoring is completed remotely. 

Retainers

After completing treatment with braces and clear aligners, you’ll have to wear retainers. Retainers help you keep teeth straight and are typically worn while you sleep. 

There are two different types of retainers available:

  • Fixed retainers These are bonded to the back of your teeth, which prevents them from shifting out of place.
  • Removable retainers — These are made with acrylic and wire. A retainer will be custom-made so it fits comfortably in your mouth.

Functional Appliances

Other functional orthodontic appliances are available to help you achieve your desired results. They aid braces and aligners to correct more complex cases.

Functional appliances can be fixed or removable. Fixed appliances stay in your mouth until treatment is complete, while removable appliances can be taken out for cleaning and eating.

Examples of functional orthodontic appliances include:

  • Activator
  • Bionator
  • Orthodontic Headgear
  • Frankel Appliance

Orthodontic Treatment for Different Age Groups

Orthodontic treatment differs for every age group. 

For example, some children need treatment before all of their permanent teeth have grown in. Others may be able to wait until their teenage years, especially if they only have mild dental crowding.

Early (“Interceptive”) Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontists recommend beginning check-ups around 6 or 7. During this stage of life, children have a mixture of baby teeth and permanent teeth (mixed dentition phase).

Depending on the severity of misalignment, some children need early treatment before all of their permanent teeth grow in.

In particular, your child may be a candidate for early treatment if they have:

All of the above conditions are considered relatively serious bite problems. Treating these conditions early (while the child still has growth potential the orthodontist can harness during treatment) can help prevent the need for surgical correction later.

Orthodontic Treatment for Teens and Young Adults

Many pre-teens, teens, and young adults seek orthodontic treatment. This is the most common age group to undergo treatment because all permanent teeth have likely grown in.

Young adults don’t have fully developed jaws yet. This makes treatment easier since the teeth and jaw can move more freely.

There are many reasons why treatment is beneficial at this age. Some benefits include:

  • Taking advantage of growth spurts during this stage of life helps orthodontists direct jaw growth and correct any bite problems
  • Treatment can be completed before high school or college, which is preferable for many teens and young adults
  • It also helps prevent tooth loss and damage to the teeth over time

Most children can wait until their teenage years (or later) to start treatment because most have mild to moderate teeth misalignment.

Orthodontic Treatment in Adults and Older Adults

Orthodontic treatment isn’t limited to teenagers and young adults. Older people can still opt for orthodontic treatment to improve their smile and overall quality of life.

Treatment for adults varies depending on needs and case complexity. Having realistic expectations and being committed to the treatment plan is essential for achieving the best results. 

For older adults, treatment plans might be more comprehensive. This is because older adults must consider factors such as bone density and gum health.

Benefits of Orthodontic Treatments

There are different types of orthodontic treatments available. Each treatment is customized to fit each person’s needs. 

Orthodontic treatment is essential for:

  • Improved oral health — Straight teeth are easier to clean and maintain compared to crooked teeth. 
  • Enhanced aesthetics — Orthodontic treatment can help improve the appearance of your teeth. You can guarantee a better smile that can improve your confidence.
  • Prevents dental damage Crooked and misaligned teeth are more likely to damage other parts of your mouth. Straightening your teeth through orthodontic treatment prevents damage.
  • Proper bite alignment Alignment issues can lead to more severe complications. Orthodontic treatment corrects how your upper and lower teeth fit together for better alignment.
  • Long-term savings — Investing in orthodontic treatment early can help you save money in the long run. Having straight teeth reduces problems that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, jaw disorders, and other dental health issues.

Summary

  • Orthodontic treatment fixes different issues regarding teeth and jaw alignment
  • Various types of orthodontic treatments are available for different issues
  • Orthodontic treatment will be different, depending on the age group
  • It’s never too late to invest in orthodontic treatment as they provide various benefits for your teeth, improve facial structure, and self-confidence

Last updated on February 7, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 7, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Berg, J.H., and Slayton R.L. Early Childhood Oral Health. Wiley Blackwell, 2016.
  2. Keates, N. “The 8-Year-Old With a Perfect Smile.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 2010. 
  3. “Malocclusion of Teeth: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Patti A, and DArc, G.P. Clinical Success in Early Orthodontic Treatment. Quintessence International, 2005.
  5. Freedman, G.A. Contemporary Esthetic Dentistry. Elsevier, 2012.
  6. Proffit et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
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