We're seeing more and more adult orthodontic patients these days
and it's not hard to figure out why. Appliances that are barely noticeable
have been developed to give adults more discreet choices when it
comes to orthodontic treatment. And many adults realize that investing
in a smile makeover can have significant benefits, socially and
professionally. Straightening teeth can be an important part of that
confidence-boosting makeover process.
Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there's no such thing as
being too old for braces. However, orthodontic treatment for adults is
different in two important respects: For one thing, the growth and
development of the jaws is complete in adults, so changes in actual jaw
structure can't be accomplished with orthodontic appliances in the
way they can with a growing child.
Secondly, periodontal (gum) disease is more prevalent in adults than in
children. While you are wearing the orthodontic appliances, gentle
forces will be applied to your teeth so they can move through their
surrounding bone. Periodontal health plays a key role in all of this; if the
gum tissues are not healthy during orthodontics, bone loss can result
and weaken the long-term prognosis of your teeth. So any gum disease
must be brought under control before orthodontic treatment begins.
And to maintain your periodontal health, you will need to make sure to
have regular professional cleanings during the orthodontics while
maintaining good oral hygiene at home.
Types of Orthodontic Appliances
All orthodontic appliances work essentially the same way: by employing light, constant force to move teeth into proper alignment. But how we apply these forces can vary, as numerous innovations have become available in recent years. Some of the newer, less visible orthodontic appliances have been designed to blend more easily into an adult's personal and professional lifestyle. Types of orthodontic appliances include:
Metal Braces need no introduction. But you might be surprised to find they're smaller and lighter than ever. They may even offer some customized options, like colored elastic ties on the brackets.
Clear Braces feature brackets made of ceramic or composite materials which blend in with your teeth, making them harder to notice. They're suitable in many situations, and are a little more low profile.
Clear Aligners are a series of removable, clear plastic trays that gradually straighten teeth as they're worn (for 22 hours per day). Formerly recommended only for adult patients, they now come with special features — like compliance indicators to tell how often you've been wearing them — that make them appropriate for teens in some situations. The advantage: they're practically invisible!
Lingual Braces offer the most unnoticeable form of
orthodontic treatment because they are attached to the
back (tongue side) of the teeth, where they cannot be seen at all.
Wearing a retainer after orthodontic treatment is crucial, no matter which type of appliance you choose and what age you happen to be. Teeth that are not held in place by a retainer long enough for new supporting bone to develop around them can drift back to their original positions, and that's certainly not something we — or you — want to see happen. We will make sure to instruct you on how to retain your new, more beautiful smile so that it continues to make you look and feel great for years to come.