Straight teeth are the norm when it comes to a pleasant appearance and good oral health. However, crooked teeth are a reality among many adults nowadays. The lack of money or dental education determined many parents to skip the orthodontist visit at the appropriate moment and grown-up individuals are now living with the consequences. But what most people do not know is that badly aligned teeth can be straightened up regardless of age. In fact, it is estimated that one in five patients opting for an orthodontic treatment is adult. They now have the education necessary to understand the necessity of such a treatment and the financial means to support it.
What can orthodontics do for adult patients?
Adult patients can benefit from most of the treatments offered in an orthodontic clinic, including teeth straightening, malocclusion and improper bite treatment. A specialized examination, cumulated with X-rays, photos and teeth molds helps the orthodontist form an accurate opinion about the treatments needed.
One of the drawbacks associated with age is the fact that the treatment is usually longer in adults that in children. The actual time needed for a complete treatment varies from person to person, but an adult should expect to have perfectly lined up teeth after about 2 years of brace wearing.
The other downside of orthodontic treatment in adulthood is the fact that the bones have stopped growing, so that conditions associated with unequal jaws can only be solved by surgical means. The surgery is done before or after the brace treatment, depending on the condition. Not all people wearing braces need surgery, so stop by for a check-up before making up your mind!
Before the orthodontic treatment
Before deciding upon what type of braces would be more convenient for the patient, the orthodontist needs to know the teeth condition as well as the patient’s general health state. This is mainly because patients with periodontal problems may not qualify for an orthodontic treatment. Wearing braces when the tooth or the bone supporting the tooth is affected increases the risk of tooth decay or jaw related diseases. Therefore, it is advisable to address the periodontal issues before starting an orthodontic treatment.
Patients with bleeding disorders, leukemia, severe diabetes which cannot be kept under control or severe heart-valve disease should consult their physician before undergoing an orthodontic treatment. Also, patients who take osteoporosis or arthritis may experience the need for longer treatment as these drugs make the teeth harder to move.
Dental appliances suitable for adults
Nowadays there are a great variety of braces suitable for adults, from the metal ones applied onto a thin metal wire to the “clear” invisalign braces. The new devices are considerably less bulky and appropriate for everyday use. Let’s take a look at each one of the options for a better understanding of their features.
Traditional stainless steel braces – affordable, sturdy and highly efficient, the stainless steel braces are still used by many orthodontists. However, patients looking for more discreet options tend to skip these braces due to their anesthetic look.
Plastic braces – usually made in clear plastic, these braces are growing more popular among adults, due to their discreet look. However, the plastic braces tend stain in time and to develop friction between them and the supporting wire, which in turn leads to a less effective and longer treatment.
Ceramic braces – available in tooth-color, the ceramic braces are almost invisible, which also makes them extremely popular among adult patients. However, they have more chances of breaking then the traditional ones. Also, they can affect the enamel on the lower teeth, which are smaller and more prone to such accidents. To solve this problem, many orthodontists recommend using ceramic braces on top teeth and metal ones on lower teeth.
Invisalign – also known as “clear” braces, these innovative devices are solve the esthetic concern by removing the wires and metallic parts. They are custom-made clear plastic appliances which cover the teeth entirely, while forcing them to move in the wanted direction.
The orthodontic treatment for adults does not only have a strong cosmetic result, but it also impacts the way in which the patient bites, chews and speaks. Furthermore, well aligned teeth are easier to clean and care for, which means healthier teeth with minimum effort. All these are good reasons to pay a visit to an orthodontist right away!