It is fairly common knowledge that orthodontic treatment can correct crooked teeth and spacing in the mouth. But why should the ability to have the smile that you’ve always wanted be limited to children and teens? Adults deserve the confidence and pride that come along with straight teeth and a great smile just as much as our younger patients. Luckily, it’s never to late to fix that smile you’ve been self-conscious about for years.
A common misconception is that orthodontics is only for kids. However, age is not a deterrent to orthodontic treatment. Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. That being said, adults do often bring a different set of variables to the table when they are receiving orthodontic treatment.
As we age, our teeth start to show signs of wear and tear due to function within the oral environment. Unlike the unblemished teeth of a 12 year old, adults usually have their fair share of dental restorations, edentulous spaces, crowns, bridgework, etc. Additionally, the prevalence of gingival recession and alveolar bone loss, more commonly known as periodontal disease, increases with age. These factors can complicate orthodontic treatment, but also make the need for it all the more necessary.
How your teeth align with one another and their positioning in the alveolar bone, in addition to proper oral health practices, can greatly influence your susceptibility to these dental issues experienced with aging. Orthodontic treatment helps to create a better bite also making teeth fit together properly, orthodontics can decrease the risk of future dental problems regardless of age. Leaving misaligned teeth untreated may lead to other dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, as well as abnormal wearing of tooth enamel and difficulty in chewing. Properly aligned teeth without any spacing or overlapping make it easier to brush and floss, and help to prevent decay and periodontal disease. In doing so, orthodontic treatment can contribute to good dental health.
For patients with more complex restorative needs, orthodontics can play an important part in a team of dental practitioners (general dentists, periodontists, prosthodontists, oral surgeons to name a few) to provide a comprehensive dental solution. The proper alignment of the teeth orthodontically allows the restorative dentist to provide a better, longer lasting, and more esthetic solution for decayed and misshapen teeth. If replacements for missing teeth are planned, an orthodontist can help to open and maintain the space necessary for bridgework or implants. For patients with gum disease and periodontal bone loss, as long as no active disease is present, orthodontics can help to better position the teeth over the remaining alveolar bone, resulting in a positive positioning for the prevention of future periodontal issues. For many patients, proper tooth alignment can contribute to healthy gums. Additionally, with orthodontic retention, the orthodontist can help to stabilize the teeth so that shifting does not occur or is minimized. As orthodontists, it is our job to work with your dentist or dental specialist to achieve the best result.
As an added incentive, orthodontics has never been as “adult friendly” as it is today. Many of today’s treatment options are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit an adult lifestyle. Through innovations such as Invisalign and clear bracketing, those metal braces you may fear are no longer necessary. As far as making appointments, we are aware that as adults we have very busy schedules. However, advances in today’s orthodontic materials allow for appointments to be spaced out to only about once every six weeks during active treatment. Discomfort is minimal, and can be managed using over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Most importantly, there is little change to an adult lifestyle. You can do almost anything during orthodontic treatment (sing, play a musical instrument, dine out, kiss, and even have your picture taken). Some temporary adjustments will be necessary, but if you’re like the vast majority of adult patients, you’ll adapt quickly.
Many of the parents of my patients are surprised to find out that we treat adults as well as children in our office. Luckily, it is never to late to get the smile you have always wanted. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, one orthodontic patient today in five is an adult. Although adults do at times provide more complicated orthodontic problems, the biology behind tooth movement remains the same, regardless of age. Due to this, we here at L&M Orthodontics can provide any patient with the proper alignment of their teeth, improved oral health and a beautiful smile.