When most people think of braces, they are reminded of people they grew up with that had metal mouths and got teased for it. While adjusting the alignment of the bite is often looked at as an adolescent option, braces can be utilized at any age. A recent study found that more and more adults are getting braces, nearly 20% over the age of 30, but over a third of all adults have malocclusion, or a bad bite. Orthopedic needs and teeth positioning will help your dentist or orthodontist determine the best treatment plan, no matter how old you are.
Why Kids have Braces
Braces are most common in the teenage years, as the continued growth of the jaw and mouth palettes between the ages of 15 and 18 make teeth position more malleable. By using orthodontic treatment during these years, the mouth is taught how to form.
In contrast, an adult mouth has already grown to its full size and shape, so orthodontic treatment has to retrain it. Sometimes surgery or other more drastic treatments are needed prior to braces to ensure a successful change in the oral cavity.
Straightening Teeth Options
The traditional metal brackets and bands that make up braces are still a great option, but they aren’t the only ones available. The above three options may be why so many adults are seeking orthodontic treatment.
Ceramic Front Braces are aligning only the teeth in your smile. They are ideal for correcting gaps, spaces, crooked or crowding teeth. The ceramic brackets and bands are clear or color matched to your teeth, and only a very thin wire is wrapped around the front of the teeth. Since the focus of front braces isn’t correcting a patient’s bite, this treatment can often be done in only six months.
Behind the Teeth Braces, or lingual braces, are all but invisible due to the brackets and wires being on the tongue side of the teeth. They have a similar timeline as traditional braces, but some dentists advise against them because they are harder to clean.
Series of clear aligners such as Invisalign are becoming more and more popular. (Be sure to check out our special Invisalign event Jan 27th and grab your spot.) The series usually has 18-30 trays that slowly move your teeth into position. They are cost effective, and with proper care completely clear and unnoticeable.
How Braces Work
Orthodontists can use a variety of treatment options that utilize pressure and tenion to move teeth slowly and gently into the desired position. Pressure causes the bone next to the root to be absorbed by the body, while tension encourages new bone to grown opposite of it. The new bone takes up residence in the root’s old position, settling the tooth into its new position.
Why Consider Braces later in life?
Numerous studies have proven the effects of a great-looking smile on self-confidence, career opportunities and success, as well as social life and happiness. Your health is also affected by the misalignment or good standing of your teeth. If your teeth aren’t positioned so that chewing, talking, or cleaning them are easy, the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and their associated problems increase exponentially. All of these are good reasons to consider orthodontic treatment at any age.
As mentioned above, adults’ mouths are already grown and developed, so often adult orthodontic treatment has some additional steps prior to the placement of braces. It is essential that any pre-existing periodontal diseases or oral problems be brought under control or corrected prior to orthodontic treatment.
Some medical conditions may prevent or challenge orthodontic treatment, such as severe heart-valve disease, leukemia, bleeding disorders, and severe uncontrolled diabetes. If you have any of these conditions, be sure to discuss them with your doctor or dentist to understand any risks involved.
Certain drugs used primarily by adults for arthritis or osteoporosis can counteract the tooth movement of orthodontic treatment. Medications or habits that dry out the mouth (smoking) can be detrimental to the success of braces, and threaten the entire process with increased risk of tooth decay.
Success with Braces Starts with a Consultation
You are never too old for braces, but as you can see getting orthodontic treatment later in life does have some additional considerations. With the right dentist and proper communication, your experience will be swift and successful! If you’re looking for a dentist in the Arlington Texas area, please give our office a call to set up a consultation. We’d love to help you figure out the best way to get your perfect smile!