When today’s adults were growing up, orthodontic care was largely thought of as being something for growing children or adolescents. Traditional metal braces were a familiar rite of passage during the awkward teen years. However, the idea that only kids can or should get orthodontics is a misperception—orthodontic treatment isn’t just something a person can benefit from when they’re young. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in four orthodontic patients today is an adult.
There can be many reasons adults decide not to wait any longer to straighten their teeth. They might not have had the opportunity to fix alignment problems when they were younger and now want to correct long-standing issues with their smile and bite. Or their teeth might have shifted as they’ve grown older, creating new problems. It’s not uncommon for parents bringing their children in for treatment to realize that the time is right for them to be treated too. Whatever the inspiration, the good news is that there is no age limit for achieving a healthy, beautiful smile, and the treatment options are better than ever.
The Benefits of Straight Teeth for Adults
The most immediately obvious benefit of having straight teeth is aesthetic. Crooked teeth can make adults feel self-conscious in personal and professional settings because they’re not happy with their appearance. On its own, that’s an excellent reason for orthodontics—everybody deserves to be able to smile with confidence. But looks alone aren’t the only reason for considering orthodontic treatment in the adult years. Straight teeth also contribute to your overall dental health.
The fundamental purpose of straightening the teeth is to create a healthy, functional bite. When the teeth and/or jaws are out of alignment, it can affect your ability to bite, chew, and speak. Misaligned teeth can also lead to problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, abnormal wearing of tooth surfaces, or temporomandibular jaw pain. Straightening the teeth makes it easier to preserve the health of your teeth and gums, reducing the odds of developing cavities and periodontal disease.
Better Options for Discreet Treatment
The popularity of adult orthodontic treatment has grown as the choices for discreet methods of straightening the teeth have expanded and improved. For those wanting to maintain a professional appearance, wires and metal brackets aren’t an appealing choice. Fortunately, there’s now a range of alternatives for minimizing or completely hiding your orthodontics from others’ views.
For example, Invisalign, which uses specially molded clear plastic trays to incrementally move the teeth, is nearly invisible when worn. If you’d prefer to have a fixed appliance, you can opt for clear braces or lingual braces, in which brackets are attached to the back of the teeth. Either way, your orthodontic treatment only has to be as public as you want it to be.
How Is Adult Orthodontic Treatment Different?
Adult orthodontic treatment is remarkably similar to treatment for kids or teens—the biological process is the same. The key difference, though, is that adults have stopped growing. In children, certain types of developing problems can be corrected by Phase I treatment, which takes advantage of their ongoing growth to fix alignment or to create additional space in the arch. Because this isn’t possible for adults, corrective jaw surgery may be necessary for the rare instances where underlying skeletal problems interfere with the ability to bite, chew, and speak. When this type of procedure, known as orthognathic surgery, is necessary, it is preceded and followed by orthodontic treatment designed to make sure the upper and lower teeth are properly positioned. In these cases, we work closely with a patient’s oral and maxillofacial surgeon to devise a comprehensive treatment plan that will achieve the desired result.
For adult patients who fall into this category but really don’t want surgery, there are alternatives—we can use a technique called camouflage to disguise the skeletal abnormalities while still achieving a pleasing result. Look for a future blog with more about this!
No Time Like the Present
If you’ve considered consulting an orthodontist about your crooked teeth, there’s no better time than now to get started. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you’ll have the beautifully aligned smile you’ve dreamed of. B Orthodontics will help you learn about your options and create the individualized treatment plan that’s right for you. We work with most insurance providers to make the most of your plan benefits, and we have convenient payment plans to help keep treatment affordable. To find out more about how you can have a beautiful smile at any age, contact us here.