We’re seeing more and more adult orthodontic patients these days, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Appliances that are barely noticeable have been developed to give adults more discreet choices when it comes to orthodontic treatment. And many adults realize that investing in a smile makeover can have significant benefits, socially and professionally. Straightening teeth can be an important part of that confidence-boosting makeover process.
Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there’s no such thing as being too old for braces. However, orthodontic treatment for adults is different in two important respects: For one thing, the growth and development of the jaws is complete in adults, so changes in actual jaw structure can’t be accomplished with orthodontic appliances in the way they can with a growing child.
Secondly, periodontal (gum) disease is more prevalent in adults than in children. While you are wearing the orthodontic appliances, gentle forces will be applied to your teeth so they can move through their surrounding bone. Periodontal health plays a key role in all of this; if the gum tissues are not healthy during orthodontics, bone loss can result and weaken the long-term prognosis of your teeth. So any gum disease must be brought under control before orthodontic treatment begins. And to maintain your periodontal health, you will need to make sure to have regular professional cleanings during the orthodontics while maintaining good oral hygiene at home.
Benefits of Treatment
Adults can benefit from orthodontic treatment in many ways. These include:
- Align the teeth to create a more aesthetic and beautiful smile
- Correct relapse after previous orthodontic treatment due to lack of long term retainer wear
- Improve the ability to brush and floss, especially for crowded or overlapping lower front teeth
- Create a better or more comfortable bite and ability to chew
- Address missing teeth
- Close spaces between the teeth
- Reduce excessive wear on the teeth due to grinding or poor bite
- Jaw surgery to correct discrepancies between the upper and lower jaws.
Appearance of Braces
Many adults are concerned with the appearance of braces. Often, Invisalign® (The invisible alternative to braces) can be used to treat adults. This technology involves clear removable aligners, fabricated through advanced 3D imaging to align the teeth. For more severe problems, we have the option of clear ceramic brackets instead of metal.
Orthodontic treatment is no more uncomfortable for adults than children. Adults undergoing orthodontic treatment report the same level of soreness as children (although adults are more willing to tell us about the soreness).
Typically, the teeth are most uncomfortable 12-24 hours after an orthodontic adjustment and will disappear within 3 to 5 days. Modern appliances are smaller and more comfortable to wear. Modern techniques, with the new titanium technology, put less pressure on the teeth to cause discomfort, while moving the teeth more rapidly and efficiently. It also decreases the time required between adjustments to every 8 – 10 weeks. Treatment time, on average, is completed in 15-18 months.
The fee for adult orthodontic treatment is determined the same way treatment for a child or adolescent is determined. It is based on the severity of the problem, the complexity of the correction, the appliances used and the length of time to correct.