Updated on February 7, 2024
4 min read

Orthodontic Treatment for Adolescents & Teens (Phase II)

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Most people begin orthodontic treatment between the ages of 10 and 14. Middle school students often receive phase II orthodontic treatment before high school begins. 

This is especially true if they had phase I treatment as a child. Adolescents and teens are the most common age group because their permanent teeth have grown. 

Any dental crowding, spacing, alignment, and bite issues are also evident during the teenage years. Proper orthodontic treatment improves speaking, breathing, chewing, and swallowing capabilities.

When To Seek Orthodontic Treatment For Your Teen

Between 10 and 15 years of age is crucial for orthodontic treatment. At this time, the body is rapidly changing, including growth spurts, puberty, and even skeletal changes in the mouth. 

Many teens receive routine orthodontic screenings to check for changes during teeth cleanings. This catches issues and allows an orthodontist to treat them before the mouth and jaw fully develop.

Some orthodontic issues that indicate the need for treatment include:

  • Losing baby (primary) teeth too early or too late — It can result in irregular alignment.
  • MalocclusionThis includes an underbite, overbite, open bite, overjet, crossbite, crowding, or spaced teeth. 
  • Over-retained baby teeth — Most permanent teeth can’t grow properly due to blockage.
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or other jaw issues These include popping sounds or frequent pain. 
  • Chewing or biting difficulties If your teen frequently bites their cheeks, this may indicate an alignment issue. 

Advantages of Orthodontic Treatment During Adolescence

Some parents may decide to start earlier, around age 6, but that isn’t always the best option. This is because there’s no way to guarantee against phase II treatment later on. 

The primary advantages of teen orthodontic treatment include:

  • Taking advantage of growth spurts during the teenage years helps orthodontists direct jaw growth and correct severe bite problems
  • If your teen has jaw alignment issues, orthodontic treatment often eliminates the need for jaw surgery in adulthood
  • Having straight teeth helps prevent the development of cavities and gum disease
  • It improves chewing and biting capabilities.
  • It enhances your teen’s smile and overall appearance, boosting their confidence
  • It makes the teeth less prone to trauma, chips, cracks, and wear
  • It helps prevent tooth loss

Common Types of Treatment

Three common types of orthodontic treatment for adolescents and teens include:

1. Braces

Traditional braces are popular orthodontic appliances that correct misaligned teeth, crooked teeth, and other bite-related issues. The common types include traditional metal braces, clear braces, lingual braces, and ceramic braces.

Adolescents and teens usually get braces after all of their permanent teeth erupt and before high school begins. Treatment usually takes between one and three years. 

metal bracesNewMouth

“Almost five million Americans, most of them being children and teenagers, get braces. Additionally, about 80 percent of people who receive orthodontic treatment are between 6 and 18 years of age.”

American Association of Orthodontics (AAO)

Braces and Gingivitis Risk

During puberty, increased inflammation can affect gums. This leads to gingivitis (mild gum disease), involving swollen, red, and tender gums. 

Regular brushing and flossing are essential. However, braces for teens make oral hygiene more challenging, often leading to neglected flossing and increased gingivitis risk. 

Preventive measures include:

  • Washing food particles out of the mouth by drinking water after each meal
  • Buying a Waterpik, which uses water pressure to floss your teeth rather than a string
  • Eating healthier
  • Gargling daily with warm salt water
  • Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash every day

2. Clear Aligners

Clear aligners (invisible braces) are removable orthodontic appliances that correct crooked and misaligned teeth. Adults prefer clear aligners over braces because they’re invisible, comfortable, and convenient.

Teens are candidates for treatment because their permanent teeth have grown by this age. You typically need to wear aligners for at least 22 hours per day, with the overall length of treatment varying based on individual needs.

clear aligners NewMouth

To progress through treatment, you must visit your dentist every 4 to 6 weeks to receive new aligners. This is because each aligner can move teeth only 1 mm or less. 

3. Headgear

Orthodontists often use headgear and braces to correct severe overbites, underbites, crossbites, or open bites in teens. This appliance attaches to your head or face with a neck strap, influencing proper jaw growth. At the same time, braces focus on fixing teeth positioning.

Cervical Pull Headgear

Common types of headgear include: 

  • Reverse-Pull Headgear Corrects an underbite or crossbite 
  • Cervical Pull Headgear Corrects an overbite or underbite 
  • High Pull Headgear Corrects an open bite


Teen orthodontics treatment is an essential part of adolescent and teen health care. It helps prevent and correct various dental issues that can impact your teen’s oral health, appearance, and confidence in the future.

Braces, clear aligners, and headgear are all effective methods for correcting misaligned teen’s teeth and jaw issues. However, it’s crucial to maintain good oral hygiene during treatment to prevent gum disease and other dental problems.

Consult an orthodontist if your teen is experiencing any orthodontic issues or if they want to improve their overall dental health. Taking action during this critical growth stage can have long-lasting benefits and help set your teen up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

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. Braces.” Mouth Healthy.
  2. Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.” National Institutes of Health, 2013. 
  3. Patti et al.Clinical Success in Early Orthodontic Treatment.” Quintessence International, 2005.
  4. Proffit et al.Contemporary Orthodontics.” Elsevier Health Sciences, 2019.
  5. Braces: Your Guide to a Perfect Smile.” American Association for Orthodontists.
  6. Invisalign treatment | Invisalign clear aligners.” Invisalign.
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