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Getting Braces After 50

Orthoyl March 26, 2024

If you’re at (or past) the age where an AARP membership is starting to make sense, you may think that the time for orthodontics is past. Some people may even be under the impression that after a certain age, it’s not possible to correct the alignment of their teeth with braces or clear aligners. That couldn’t be further from the truth, and there are many good reasons why adults in their fifties, sixties, or older can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Nor are these rare cases—according to the American Association of Orthodontists, 1 in 4 orthodontic patients is an adult. Here’s why you might want to consider straightening your teeth later in life, and what you can expect from treatment.

Not Just About Cosmetics

Having crooked teeth isn’t simply about having a smile that isn’t as attractive as it could be. Poorly aligned bites and crooked teeth are associated with tooth decay, erosion of tooth enamel, increased gum and bone loss, jaw pain, and headaches. As people age, their teeth move and change, so even those who weren’t living with gaps or misalignments before may develop them over time. For example, bone loss in the jaw can push teeth inward, resulting in crowding.

Adult patients may also be referred by their dentist because although their teeth look straight, with no gaps or crowding, their bite is misaligned. This type of problem can cause pain that becomes worse the longer you live with it. One such issue is a deep bite, in which the upper teeth completely cover the lower teeth when the jaw is closed. This condition is associated with pain in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), because the lower jaw is forced back by the misalignment of the bite. A poorly aligned bite can also cause abnormal wear on the enamel.

Another thing to consider is that research is increasingly showing that oral health and overall health are more closely linked than we might have once guessed. Studies have linked poor oral health with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory mortality, and all-cause mortality in older people. Crooked and crowded teeth are harder to keep clean, making it more likely for plaque to accumulate and gum disease and inflammation to take hold.

Fortunately, as long as an individual’s jawbone structure and gums are in good shape, it is never too late to get orthodontic treatment to correct an uncomfortable bite or misaligned teeth. And nowadays there are more options than ever to keep treatment discreet and comfortable.

What an Older Adult Can Expect from Orthodontic Treatment

When today’s 50+ adults were teenagers, large metal braces were pretty much it for straightening your teeth. Today they can choose between:

  • Stainless steel braces: This classic type of braces has metal brackets affixed to the front of the teeth connected with an archwire that gently shift the position of the teeth. However, today’s brackets are smaller and lighter than those of decades past.
  • Clear braces: This variation on traditional braces uses clear brackets for a less noticeable alternative.
  • Lingual braces: This type of braces mounts brackets behind the teeth, so they are not visible during treatment.
  • Clear aligners: Clear aligner systems use a series of customized, removable acrylic trays worn over the teeth to correct alignment problems. These are popular both because they’re nearly invisible and because they can be removed completely for eating, eliminating the food restrictions that are necessary with regular braces.

How long can an older adult expect to be in treatment? They usually will need to wear their braces or aligners for 12 to 24 months. After that, they will need to wear a retainer indefinitely to maintain their new, healthy alignment.

A Healthy Bite at Any Age

Misaligned teeth can cause pain, embarrassment, and oral health issues—but you don’t have to live with it. Whether you’ve been suffering for decades or a problem has only developed recently, B Orthodontics can help you live your golden years with the healthy bite and bright smile you deserve. Contact us to schedule your consultation to learn about your options today.

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