Orthodontic braces were historically associated with teenagers. Because braces are smaller, more comfortable, and less visible, today, however, an increasing number of adults are choosing to wear braces to straighten their teeth and correct malocclusions (bad bites). In fact, it is now estimated that almost one third of all current orthodontic patients are adults. The introduction of clear, almost invisible aligners to straighten teeth without glued-on braces has also dramatically increased the demand for adult orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic braces are predictable, versatile, and incredibly successful at aligning the teeth. Braces work in the same way regardless of the age of the patient. In short, an adult can experience the same beautiful and healthy end results as a teenager.
Can adults benefit from orthodontic braces?
Absolutely! Crooked or misaligned teeth look unsightly, which can cause a low self-esteem and a lack of self confidence. Aside from poor aesthetics, improperly aligned teeth can also cause difficulties biting, chewing, and articulating clearly. Generally speaking, orthodontists agree that straight teeth tend to be healthier teeth.
Straight teeth offer a multitude of health and dental benefits including:
Reduction in general tooth decay
Decreased likelihood of developing periodontal (gum and bone) disease
Decreased likelihood of tooth injury
Reduction in digestive disorders
Fortunately, orthodontic braces have been adapted and modified to make them more convenient for adults. There are now a wide range of fixed and removable orthodontic devices available, depending on the precise classification of the malocclusion.
The most common types of malocclusion are underbite (lower teeth protrude further than upper teeth), overbite (upper teeth protrude further than lower teeth), and overcrowding where there is insufficient space on the arches to accommodate the full complement of adult teeth.
Prior to recommending specific orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist will recommend treatment of any pre-existing dental conditions such as gum disease, excess plaque, and tooth decay. Orthodontic braces can greatly exacerbate any or all of these conditions.
What are the main types of orthodontic braces?
The following are some of the most popular orthodontic braces:
Traditional braces – These braces are strong and tend not to stain the teeth. They are comprised of individual brackets which are bonded to each tooth and accompanied by an archwire which asserts gentle pressure on the teeth and causes them to move. Traditional braces are generally metal but are also available in a clear synthetic sapphire material and “tooth colored” ceramic. Ceramic brackets are usually a little more bulky than the metal alternative, but the patient can't usually feel the difference. While synthetic sapphire and ceramic brackets do not stain, the clear ligature tie that holds the wire into the bracket can become discolored by coffee, wine, smoking, and certain foods. Each time the patient comes in for an appointment, however, Dr Schach changes the ties so they look brand new again.
Invisalign® – Invisalign® aligners are a series of clear trays that progressively move the teeth into the desired position. They need be worn 22 hours each day for the best results. Every two weeks a new tray is worn that is one step closer to the final result. Since they are removable, cleaning the teeth is easier with Invisalign® than traditional braces. They are less obtrusive than traditional braces but tend to be more costly because of the laboratory fee. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.
If you have any questions about orthodontic braces or aligners, please contact our office.