If you think adults can’t have straighter teeth, think again! Many adults are choosing to have their teeth straightened so they can enjoy all the benefits of a more attractive smile. Believe it or not, about one in five orthodontic patients is an adult. It’s not uncommon for people who wore an orthodontic appliance when they were children to experience their teeth shifting back over the years and once again having crooked teeth. But whether you’re interested in a second round of orthodontic treatment or are just now looking into orthodontics for the first time, you should know that you’re never too old to have straighter teeth. In this article, we’ll explore some of the current, traditional orthodontic treatments for adults.
What Adults Should Know About Orthodontic Treatments
While there’s no doubt that many adults wear some type of a tooth-straightening device, orthodontic treatment is still more common for kids who are between 10 and 14 years old. There’s a reason for this: generally speaking, it’s somewhat easier to straighten permanent teeth soon after they’ve erupted rather than many years later. That doesn’t mean that orthodontic treatments don’t work on older people; in fact, they work quite well, although the treatment time may be somewhat longer for adults than it is for younger people.
Types of Orthodontic Treatments for Adults
At one time, not too long ago, the only effective way to straighten teeth involved wearing conventional metal braces for a long period of time. Fortunately, modern dental technology now offers patients a variety of orthodontic treatments, each of which can be an effective way of straightening teeth for older patients. What follows are the four most common methods.
- Conventional metal braces: There’s a good reason why so many dentists and orthodontists still offer traditional braces as one of their orthodontic treatments – they work! But that’s not the only reason why many adults choose metal braces. These appliances work for just about anyone, no matter how severe their issues may be. This includes problems such as underbites, overbites, crowded teeth, and wide spaces in between teeth, to name a few. And although conventional braces typically take longer to work than some other treatment options, they are somewhat less expensive – one benefit that appeals to many patients.
- Ceramic braces: One of the less desirable aspects of metal braces is the fact that they are so obvious and visible to other people. This can be a little embarrassing to the patient, particularly if the person is an older adult. That’s why ceramic braces are often an appealing alternative. Also referred to as “clear braces,” these appliances are very similar to and function in much the same was as metal braces with some very important differences. The brackets placed on each tooth are made of clear ceramic rather than metal, and the arch wires and rubber bands are also clear, which makes them much less obvious than their metal counterparts.
- Lingual braces: Another alternative to traditional metal braces are lingual braces. These appliances also work in a way very similar to conventional braces, except that the brackets are placed on the back of the teeth rather than the front. This makes them much less visible than conventional metal appliances, while still being just as effective at resolving a variety of dental issues. However, because the brackets are so close to the tongue and other soft tissues, lingual braces can be somewhat uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time.
- Clear aligners: This orthodontic treatment has become increasingly popular over the past few years and with good reason. Not only are clear plastic aligners virtually invisible to other people; they are also comfortable to wear and can be removed by the patient to eat meals and brush/floss as they normally would. Another benefit of clear aligner trays is that the total treatment period is often somewhat shorter than conventional braces. But clear aligners may not be the right choice for every patient. These appliances are usually only effective in correcting mild to moderate dental issues, so people with severely crooked teeth may need a more conventional orthodontic treatment.
Why Adults Should Consider Orthodontics for Straighter Teeth
A variety of studies have been conducted over the past several years showing that having an attractive smile is much more than just a “nice-to-have.” In fact, having a smile that you’re pleased with and proud to share with others will make you feel more self-confident and self-assured. And if you smile more, you’ll actually feel happier! But there are more benefits from having an attractive smile.
When you have crooked teeth, you could be experiencing pain and discomfort much more than you realize. Your teeth could be preventing you from chewing your food properly, which could lead to digestive disturbances, among other things. Having misaligned teeth can also make it harder to brush and floss effectively, and that makes it more likely to develop other problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Remember that gum disease is associated with other more serious health issues in adults, such as diabetes, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s. So having a straighter smile not only improves your mood and increases your self-confidence – it actually improves your overall health.
While there are certainly plenty of good reasons why older patients with misaligned teeth should seek out traditional orthodontic treatments for adults, it’s important to keep in mind that they may not be the right choice for every patient. People with gum disease will need to have that condition resolved prior to being fitted with any type of orthodontic appliance. If you’ve had gum disease for an extended period of time, you might have experienced some bone loss as a result. If you have compromised bone density in your jaw, for example, your dentist or orthodontist will have to carefully assess your condition to make sure that you choose the proper orthodontic treatment and that you know what kind of results to expect as a result of treatment. The good news is that having straighter teeth can make it easier to properly clean your teeth and gums in the future, and that can result in less susceptibility for gum disease to return and a greater likelihood of maintaining healthy bone density in the future.