More and more adults are discovering that braces are about much more than just straight teeth and good looks. And with more options than ever before, patients of all ages can wear braces without anyone even knowing it.
Many people think orthodontists only fit patients with braces to give them a beautiful, symmetrical smile. However, while that is a piece of it, straightening a patient's teeth may help them avoid serious dental issues later in life, issues that go far beyond simple aesthetic concerns.
Malocclusions and Oral Health
Malocclusions aren't just unsightly, they can cause problems such as gum disease, chewing problems, abnormal tooth wear and even tooth loss.
When teeth are not properly positioned, they can create a host of problems. Speech may be affected and the jaw may not work properly. Properly aligned teeth allow for the tongue and cheeks to naturally wipe away food debris from the surfaces of the teeth in between brushings.
But when a malocclusion occurs and the teeth overlap, this can't happen, which means those bacteria from the food continue to sit on the teeth. The bacteria that cause gum disease thrive when there is a lack of oxygen. The spaces created by overlapping teeth are perfect environments for this bacteria to grow and thrive, leading to tooth decay, gingivitis and other serious oral health issues.
Low Profile Orthodontic Options for Adults
Adults who didn't have their teeth professionally corrected as adolescents may have shied away from braces because they may feel they add unwanted attention to their problem. Fortunately, though, dental technology has become advanced to the point that this is no longer a concern.
Invisalign Clear Aligners
Invisalign works through a series of invisible aligners. Each aligner is custom fit to each individual patient and is worn for two weeks. Over the course of treatment, they work to put gentle, constant pressure on the teeth to guide them into their correct positions.
Many patients love Invisalign because it is invisible, and they can straighten their teeth without anyone even realizing it. And the aligners are removable, so patients can eat, drink, brush and floss as they normally would.
Another option many orthodontists recommend for adult patients is lingual braces. These braces fit on the tongue side of a patient's teeth, so their friends and family cannot see them.
These are recommended especially for musicians who play wind instruments, as well as athletes who play contact sports.
Ceramic Braces & Self Ligating Braces
Ceramic braces are made to blend right in with a patient's teeth. They are similar in color to the patient's enamel, so it will be harder for onlookers to notice them.
There are also self-ligating braces. These braces don't use elastic or metal ties, which offers a lower profile for adult patients.
Self-ligating braces are more comfortable to wear than standard metal braces, and because they are more effective at moving teeth, treatment times may be shorter. That means patients can be on their way to a beautiful, healthy smile quicker.
Braces: Not Just for Kids Anymore!
Every day, adults are proving that braces aren't just for kids anymore. In fact, currently one in five orthodontic patients is an adult. They are realizing that they've lived with malocclusions that affect their everyday life for way too long.
It is important to point out, however, that some adults may face issues when straightening their teeth that adolescents probably won't.
The mechanics of moving teeth are the same at any age. However, adults might require additional work. Children and teens have jaws that are still growing, so they can accommodate the movement of the teeth. In adults, jaw growth has stopped, so to achieved desired tooth movement, jaw surgery could be required.
Additionally, adults may experience loss of bone or teeth that can require additional periodontal work before orthodontic treatment can start. If there is significant loss of bone, it can affect how much tooth movement may be able to be achieved.