More adults are undergoing orthodontic treatments for functional and cosmetic reasons. In fact, adults account for one in four orthodontic patients, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
An increased need to address oral problems resulting from misaligned teeth has led to advances in adult orthodontics to decrease the risk of future dental issues. Besides, more comfortable and less visible treatments are currently available to straighten your smile.
What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a special branch of dentistry that deals with correctly positioning teeth that are out of alignment (malocclusions) when the mouth is closed. The treatment goal is usually to improve oral function but can also enhance the appearance of your smile.
Benefits of Teeth Straightening
Properly aligned teeth are easier to brush and floss. A corrected upper and lower bite reduces stress on the teeth and allows you to bite, chew, and speak better. Other benefits include:
- Properly spaced teeth
- Straighter teeth
- Healthier teeth and gums
- Improved TMJ symptoms
- Reduced trauma or wear and tear of the teeth
- Fewer dental problems, e.g, tooth decay, gingivitis, or gum disease
- Reduced need for complex or costly restorative treatments, e.g., dental bridges or implants
Common Types of Adult Orthodontic Issues
In the past, braces and other types of orthodontic treatments were thought to be for kids only because, unlike adults, their jawbone development was still ongoing. Consequently, adults were less able to fix the following common orthodontic problems:
- Misalignment (teeth or jaws are out of alignment due to abnormal facial structure development)
- Crowding (teeth erupted too close together)
- Irregular bite (e.g., overbite, underbite, or crossbite where teeth don’t line up when your mouth is closed)
- Gaps (excessive teeth spacing)
- Crooked teeth
Chronic headaches or jaw pain (TMJ) from teeth-grinding (bruxism), trouble biting or chewing, and unclear speech may result from these orthodontic irregularities.
Types of Adult Orthodontic Treatments
With advances in orthodontics, you can have a healthy, beautiful smile even if you’re over 50. This, coupled with the fact that teeth continue to shift as you age, makes it increasingly easier to align your bite. If you’re self-conscious about having visible brackets and wires on your teeth, these less conspicuous types of braces are available:
- Ceramic braces: Unlike traditional metal braces, these are made of clear or tooth-colored brackets and are as effective as metal braces.
- Clear (plastic) aligners: You may prefer a set of custom-made, individual, removable aligners designed to be worn over your teeth. These are the least visible of all the other braces.
How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
Braces are dental appliances that are affixed to your teeth. Alternatively, clear aligners are removable appliances that are worn 22-24 hours a day. The treatment applies pressure to your teeth and gradually shifts them into alignment. The average length of time to complete treatment is typically around 12-24 months. However, it varies based on the appliances used, patient compliance and the issue being addressed.
Enjoy a Straighter, Healthier Smile
Visiting our orthodontic practice can be a life-changing decision. You’ll get the opportunity to speak with our orthodontist and find out what treatments we can customize to improve your smile.
Want to learn more about orthodontic treatment? Contact us today at any of our 3 convenient locations to schedule a consultation: