The early teens are the best time to get orthodontic treatment. It is the cross section of time when conditions are as perfect as they ever will be; the jaw has just stopped, or has almost stopped, growing (the latter being slightly better), the alveolus is still supple and malleable, but all of the adult teeth, save the wisdom teeth have already erupted. Conditions are perfect for braces, but that does not mean that teenage orthodontics is not without risks.
Often times in the early teens, both milk teeth and adult teeth will be present simultaneously in the mouth. This is problematic because milk teeth would be treated differently than adult teeth, and thus finding one device that is good for all of the teeth can be difficult. Often times the adult teeth will grow differently than the milk teeth, and have different growth patterns that are not at all evident from the constellation in the mouth of a patient in their pre-teens. But an x-ray can do a lot of good, as the positioning of the tooth buds is a pretty good indicator of how the teeth will end up growing.
The other problem is sometimes the patients jaw bone will continue to grow until they are 18, and the patients jaw bone, even if it stays the same size it is at say 15 or 16, will definitely shift and change before the alveolus hardens. This can sometimes make the treatment difficult, as there can be unanticipated changes. Usually this just means that the treatment plan needs to be altered, and the treatment is a little bit prolonged.
The Human Angle
Usually the problems that are encountered with this age group are not medical in nature. Wearing braces has a stigma, and kids at this age are very self-conscious, and most of them are very conscious of their looks and appearance. Being a teenager is difficult, a time of internal turmoil to begin with, and the prospect of impending orthodontic treatment can just be adding insult to injury. Often times the patient will be uncooperative, as it is difficult to understand that all of this seemingly torturous activity is being done for their own benefit.
Although there is no easy way out for somebody who is bringing up a teenager, there are some things to keep in mind which can simplify the treatment. One of them is the choice of orthodontist. It is important to try and get an orthodontist who understands the needs of teenagers and has patience with them. They are not kids, and most orthodontists treat them as such, and this can create conflict or tense situations. They are also not adults, and for orthodontists to have the same expectations as with adult patients can also lead to conflict and negative sentiments.
The other thing to do is make your pre-teen understand how and why this is necessary. This website can serve as a starting board for this, peruse it together and make sure they get what is going to happen to them, and why.