Today, 1 in 4 orthodontic patients are adults. Leaving misaligned teeth untreated can lead to dental problems such as excessive wear, tooth decay, gum disease, and difficulty chewing. With adult orthodontic treatment, you can improve your bite and decrease the potential risk of developing these problems in the future.
A Complete Guide to Adult Orthodontics
It’s a common misconception to believe that orthodontics is only for children and teens. Your teeth continue to shift into adulthood resulting in crooked teeth, a misaligned bite, or other painful side effects. Whether you’re unhappy with your teeth for cosmetic or health reasons, it’s not too late to improve your smile.
It’s true, you can have a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Orthodontic treatment is a viable option for almost any adult. Like youngsters, adults can experience the self-assurance that comes with a confident smile, along with the benefits of improved oral health.
Advances in adult orthodontics have made treatment more comfortable and less noticeable than ever. Many of today’s treatment options are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit your lifestyle.
How is Adult Orthodontics Different From Child Orthodontics?
The biggest difference in orthodontics for adults vs. children/teens is that adults are no longer growing. Adult treatment may take slightly longer than treatment for children/teens with a similar problem due to the maturity and density of the bone adults have. Some medications and habits, like smoking, clenching or grinding teeth, or tongue thrusting, can affect the outcome of treatment. It’s common for orthodontists to work with a patient’s family dentist to coordinate care. In order to reach optimal dental health, the dentist and adult orthodontist may need to call in other dental specialists, such as oral surgeons, periodontists, and endodontists.
Common Dental Problems in Adults
Overcrowding is when the size and number of teeth are larger than the underlying supporting bone resulting in overlapping.
An overbite is when the upper front teeth excessively overlap the bottom front teeth when the back teeth are closed. This is also called a closed bite or deep bite.
An underbite is when the lower front teeth or jaw sit ahead of the upper front teeth or jaw. This is also known as a Class III malocclusion.
If you have protruding teeth, it means your teeth stick out further than is aesthetically pleasing. This can occur in both arches or just the top.
An open bite is a malocclusion in which teeth do not make contact with each other. With an anterior open bite, the front teeth do not touch when the back teeth are closed together.
There are several causes of jaw pain, and a bad bite is one of them. Other common causes include habits (clenching or grinding), stress, trauma, and neuralgia (non-specific pain unrelated to structures or functions in the area).
Tooth Wearing or Decay
Although all teeth wear, malaligned teeth wear unevenly and more quickly than those that are straight.
Gum disease is a chronic infection of the gums that stems from a build-up of plaque. There are three stages of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
When to Seek Treatment?
Consulting an orthodontist is the best way to know if you need treatment. Orthodontists specialize in aligning teeth and jaws for patients of all ages. They have the unique expertise adults need to create a beautiful and healthy smile. If your teeth have always bothered you in some way, talk over your concerns with an orthodontist. Many members of the American Association of Orthodontists offer low-cost or complimentary initial consultations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Browse our list of adult orthodontics FAQs. If you can’t find an answer to your question, contact us and we will supply you with an answer and any other information you may need.
The number of adults seeing an orthodontist is at an all-time high. Why? Because orthodontic treatment is just as effective for adults as children.
Working together with your orthodontist, orthodontic treatment can yield life-enhancing results: better function (biting, chewing, speaking), improved appearance and increased self-esteem.
Whether you call the process “braces,” “orthodontics,” or simply straightening your teeth, these 7 facts about orthodontics may surprise you.