Where bite and tooth alignment issues are noticed at a young age, it may be beneficial to begin orthodontic treatment at an early age (read about early treatment), however in most cases orthodontic treatment generally starts at some point between the ages of 11 and 15.
The reason for this is that this is when the last baby teeth are being replaced by adult teeth and any problems such as bad bites (e.g. crossbite, deepbite, openbite, underbite, spacing or crowding) become more apparent. As the jaws are also still developing at this age there is a window of opportunity before they stop developing (in the late teens) to make any necessary orthodontic changes more easily than in adulthood.
Some patients may feel uncomfortable about their appearance when wearing braces. Ceramic braces are available as a no cost choice. There are different coloured loops to hold the wires into the braces and almost invisible Aligner treatment may be an option.
Yet another option is 'lingual' or 'inside' braces (one brand of these produced by 3M are called 'Incognito Lingual Braces'), so called because they are fitted to the back of the teeth. This option is a little more expensive than conventional braces as more customisation to the individual is required, and more (and lengthier) appointments for adjustments are necessary.
Being fitted to the back of the teeth makes them much less visible, but they may affect speech as they sit very close to the tongue (hence the word 'lingual' meaning 'tongue'). People with lingual braces also need to follow the same guidelines on oral hygiene and foods to avoid as with conventional braces.
In many cases lingual braces also need to be used in conjunction with elastic bands, which have to be taken off before meals and put back in place afterwards.
When it comes to common activities in childhood and in teenage years, it is still possible to play wind instruments when wearing braces or other orthodontics (although it generally takes a little time to change the embouchure or mouth placement to compensate) and sport, even contact sport, is also fine as long as a mouthguard is always worn, including when training. A new mouthguard will be needed after braces or any orthodontic appliance has been fitted to allow a close fit.