The field of orthodontics has come a long way and many adults are taking advantage of this. Treatments that simply were not available or too expensive when these adults were children can now help them restore their smiles. This means you’re never too old for braces!
This article will outline current innovations in adult orthodontic treatment, some factors to consider if you are thinking about this treatment for yourself, and why adult orthodontics is becoming more and more popular every year.
Innovations In Orthodontic Treatment Can Help
Metal braces are challenging enough when you’re a child, but most adults won’t even consider them. The good news is you don’t have to.
The variety of treatments available now includes options that are less noticeable and more comfortable than ever before. Here is a sampling of the newer technology that has helped make adult orthodontics more possible and even more effective:
Top Advancements in Orthodontic Technology:
Digital X-rays and 3D Dental Imaging
Digital x-rays are better quality and allow orthodontists to get a more detailed look at the structure of the mouth.
3D Dental Imaging System
This type of imaging (like using the i-Cat Cone Beam, for example) provides a full set of x-rays in one 360-degree scan and creates 3D images of the teeth. This means more precise and effective treatment.
iTero Scanner for Digital Impressions
The iTero scanner allows orthodontists to create the teeth impressions digitally instead of manually and show you exactly what your potential future smile will look like.
Nickel and Copper-Titanium Wires
More orthodontists are now using nickel or copper-titanium wires instead of stainless steel because they respond to the heat of the mouth and will bend and tighten more naturally as the teeth shift.
Temporary Anchorage Devices
These mini devices help shift more stubborn teeth when braces can’t do it alone.
Concerns about how braces make you look have been eased because of innovative technologies like Invisalign. These clear aligners are almost invisible inside your mouth.
Customized Clear Braces
Clear braces (like LightForce) are another top choice for a much more discreet option for orthodontic treatment in adults. Thanks to its polycrystalline (tooth-colored) material and smaller components compared to traditional braces, you’ll barely notice these in your mouth.
Even though childhood is the best time to change teeth positioning, the process of moving teeth through bone is the same at any age. With new treatments available, orthodontic treatment for adults can be just as effective as it is for children and adolescents.
Ways Your Smile Can Change as You Age
As people age, the jaw changes, which then affects the teeth. The good thing is, as we’ve mentioned above, adult orthodontic treatment can be very effective in correcting these things and bringing the teeth and jaw into proper alignment.
Some of the most common changes we see in the mouth of adult patients are:
Crowding of the Bottom Teeth
Due to the normal aging process, the bone in your jaw loses density and shrinks. However, the teeth don’t get smaller, so the jawbone and teeth no longer match. This results in crowding in the bottom front teeth for many older people. Crowding also happens due to reverse swallowing, breathing through your mouth, facial trauma, or tongue thrusting.
A Gap in the Front Teeth
Diastema, which is a gap between two front teeth, occurs for the same reason: shrinkage of the jaw bone. It can also be caused by tongue pressure against the front teeth when swallowing, gum disease, and inflammation.
This occurs due to malocclusion which is when the lower jaw and the upper jaw don’t align properly. This disorder can also lead to headaches, back pain, teeth grinding, or a popping jaw joint.
Post-Orthodontic Teeth Shifting
As you have seen so far, your jaw changes throughout your life. That doesn’t stop once orthodontic treatment happens. So, when treatment does happen at a young age, patients have to be careful in order to prevent their teeth from reverting to their previous misaligned position. This is done with a retainer. Each time a tooth is lost or you have restoration work done on your teeth, you will need a new retainer, too. If you don’t do that, your teeth will shift back again.
Factors To Consider For Adult Orthodontic Treatment
As you can see, there is no “right” age for orthodontic treatment. It’s never too late to get started. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you start orthodontic treatment as an adult:
Treatment May Take a Little Longer
Bone growth stops as you reach adulthood, so your orthodontic treatment may take a little longer compared to children. Harvard Medical School reports that adult orthodontic treatment may take two years.
Lifestyle and Habits Affect the Outcome of Your Treatment Too
Adult habits usually have a long history, so overcoming those habits to accommodate orthodontic treatment may take time. Smoking, teeth grinding or clenching, and tongue thrust will affect the outcome or length of treatment. Orthodontists will often coordinate care with a patient’s dentist who may also involve other dental specialists, such as endodontists, periodontists, or oral surgeons.
Structural Changes May Need Surgery
If you have bite or jaw problems or significant crowding of your teeth, your treatment plan may include surgery. As mentioned above, teeth crowd as we age. Age and hormonal changes cause connecting fibers that connect the teeth to pull teeth towards the middle of the mouth. This leads to crowded lower teeth. Depending on the amount of crowding, surgery might be indicated instead of simply using braces.
Adults do benefit from orthodontic treatment. It may take longer and involve more specialists, which is the major reason to undertake treatment with an experienced team of orthodontists like those here at Swiatek Orthodontics.
Our Team Of Orthodontic Professionals Can Help Restore Your Smile
Adult orthodontics takes advantage of many current innovations in orthodontic treatment in general. And there are a variety of treatment options available to you today. There are some differences to be aware of as you decide for yourself, but we stand ready to help. Don’t be deterred by the thought of having visible braces as you work to get the smile you’ve always wanted. You can be correcting the issues with your teeth with no one even noticing!
The team at Swiatek Orthodontics in Glen Mills and Chester Springs has treated hundreds of adults with orthodontic problems ranging from mild to very severe. You can trust us to provide the best orthodontic solution for you, too!
We will work with your dentist and any other dental specialists necessary to provide you with an individualized orthodontic treatment plan. You are never too old to get started, so contact us today to schedule a consultation to get your smile back!