Getting braces for your teenager - FamilyEducation

When Your Teen Needs Braces

Find helpful tips on getting your child's teeth straightened.

Braces are a rite of passage for many teens. If your child gets them at roughly the same time his friends do, the experience may be easier for him. But even then, it can be a difficult time. Many teens are reluctant to talk or smile for a period of time after they get braces because they feel so self-conscious.

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The “metal mouth” look for teens with braces can be avoided—at a cost. Ceramic (tooth-colored) braces are somewhat more expensive than the normal ones; and getting brackets on the back of the teeth will cost double.

A logical time for a trip to the orthodontist is related more to missing teeth than to chronological age. Your dentist will tell you when your child should see an orthodontist.

Unfortunately, orthodontic work is costly; the current average cost of braces runs about $3,500. To watch costs, shop around. Get recommendations of orthodontists your friends have used, and check your employee health plan. A recent study conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists shows that 71 percent of people covered by dental plans through large employers have orthodontia benefits.

Payments are usually spaced out over time, so you can probably arrange a workable payment plan with your orthodontist.

If you have a dental school in your area, you might be able to get treatment through its orthodontia program (in which the work is performed by students under the supervision of professors) at half the normal cost. (This form of treatment may not be covered by your insurance, so check with your insurer first.)

Once your teen has braces, be certain to get him a mouth guard if he plays sports. And if your teen gets a removable bite-plate or retainer, talk to him about the importance of keeping track of it. Replacement is expensive.