Orthodontic treatment is no longer just for teens. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists states that one in five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Many adults are choosing to receive treatment because they understand the importance of maintaining their health, and they want to feel better about their appearance. Adults everywhere are taking advantage of the opportunity to receive orthodontic care, and now you can too.
Common reasons why adults are considering orthodontic treatment:
- A bad bite or malocclusion, causing teeth to fit together incorrectly
- Teeth are crowded or spaced apart, possibly leading to tooth decay or gum disease
- Abnormal jaw pain or pressure that is caused by crooked teeth
- Desire for a healthier mouth and a more confident smile
One of the first things people notice about someone is their smile. Numerous studies have been done showing how people react more positively to photos of people with nice teeth. Getting braces for adults is a great way to get a boost in confidence and feel great when you smile.
If you have an overbite, underbite, overcrowded teeth, or a misaligned jaw, braces for adults may be necessary for your overall health. The following is a list of just some of the issues that can arise from those conditions:
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty speaking
- Facial pain
- Tooth decay (due to difficulty brushing thoroughly and effectively)
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (a condition commonly called TMJ)
Treatment options for adults
For many adults, the thought of having metal braces is enough to discourage them from receiving treatment. However, today’s orthodontic treatment options offer a variety of braces and appliances that are comfortable, aesthetic, and customized to meet your needs. Some types of braces for adults are more discreet than others. The best type for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your oral health and the length of time you are willing to undergo treatment, among other considerations.
Types of braces include:
- Ceramic (clear) self-ligating braces
- Metal self-ligating braces
- Invisible braces
Self-ligating braces for adults resemble traditional metal braces, but the brackets have special clips that hold the archwire and help it maneuver teeth into their proper places and alignment. The brackets can be active or passive depending on the thickness of the archwire used. Active brackets use a thicker archwire that puts more pressure on the teeth and moves them more quickly, while passive brackets have a thinner archwire. The patient won’t need to use elastics, and they will need fewer adjustments.
Invisalign® is a brand of clear aligners and is essentially removable braces. The patient will wear them for at least 22 hours every day, but they can take them out to eat or to clean their teeth. The patient will, thus, have an easier time keeping their teeth clean. They may also eat and drink what they like without having to worry about damaging their orthodontic devices. The patient will change trays every two weeks.
Ceramic or porcelain self-ligating braces for adults are made of clear materials and are much less visible than metal braces. They are more fragile than metal braces, so the patient will have to treat them carefully. The orthodontist may use ceramic braces for just the upper teeth and use metal braces for the lower teeth.
What to expect
During the first consultation, the team will go over the patient’s medical and dental history. They will also perform a complete oral exam, including X-rays, to determine the best treatment for the patient.
After completing the exam and going over the X-rays, the orthodontist will explain the different treatment options. After the patient chooses one, the orthodontist will explain the rules for caring for the braces.
The average treatment time for an adult is about two years. While there are methods for accelerating tooth movement, the patient should think long and hard before selecting them. Certain techniques, for example, can straighten a patient’s teeth in less time, but they may require jaw surgery.
The difference between adult orthodontics and orthodontics for children and teens:
The main difference between treating adults and children or teens is that the jawbones of younger patients are still developing. For adults, these bones have stopped growing, which may make orthognathic surgery possible to align the jawbones. Other differences include:
- Gum or bone loss (periodontal disease) — Adults are more likely than children to experience gum recession or even bone loss due to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease. Patients with straighter teeth are less likely to get gum disease.
- Worn or missing teeth — Over time teeth can become worn down and shift into different positions that can only be corrected with orthodontic care. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift and tilt, creating a bad bite and increasing the possibility of gum disease.
- Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen — Many adults received some orthodontic treatment as a child or teen, but never completed their treatment. As an adult, they choose to complete their orthodontic treatment to achieve the healthy, beautiful smile they always wanted.
It is mistakenly believed by plenty of people that an adult’s teeth cannot be moved as a teen’s can because adult bones and tissues are harder. As with many old wives’ tales, a scrap of truth got lost in translation.
It is true that teens have more pliable bodies, but the difference between a teen and an adult is not as large as the myth may lead you to believe. For example, a teen and an adult may have the exact same crowding issue. The teen will finish with their braces in 18 months while the adult may need them for 22 months. In both cases, the teeth will certainly move and a great outcome can be achieved for both patients.
Another factor that swings in adults’ favor is that adults are far more compliant with their treatment plans and instructions than children. For example, teens will often eat foods they know they shouldn’t and balk at wearing headgear, elastic bands or retainers. Adults, on the other hand, want the results and do what it takes to get them. For this reason, adults often progress through their treatment faster than a teenager would.
Our practice also recognizes that adults and children have different needs, and require a different level of attention and care. We will work with you to ensure that you receive the most appropriate treatments and that your needs are met with understanding and respect from us.
Why should you consider orthodontic treatment?
- Straight teeth are healthy teeth — Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to keep clean with flossing and brushing, and may help prevent other health problems.
- A beautiful, straight smile builds confidence — Orthodontic treatment can help boost your self-confidence, giving you a better quality of life and the freedom to smile without holding back!
- Mouths left untreated can get worse — Not receiving orthodontic treatment when it’s needed can create long-term health issues costing you more in the end.
To learn more about the benefits of adult orthodontics, please contact our practice to schedule a free consultation appointment. We understand that you have a busy schedule, and we will work with you to make sure each office visit is as convenient as possible.