Orthodontics is not just for teens and young people anymore. Adult orthodontics is an area of increasing specialty, and many adults are deciding to have their teeth straightened, or to improve their bite and smile. The main challenge in adult cases is that the physiology of the tissues surrounding teeth is different than in growing patients. There is also the greater likelihood that adults have experienced more and more extensive dental restorations, which may limit the available orthodontic approaches. That’s why orthodontic goals in adults may be slightly different than in teens. An adult may decide to have braces as part of his or her treatment, but it doesn’t necessarily mean treatment will take two-and-a-half years, as is traditionally the case with teens. Today’s orthodontists have many different strategies and technologies available to treat all kinds of malocclusions, from simple alignment issues to full-mouth occlusal rehabilitations.
Each treatment plan is developed in consultation with the patient, family dentist, and other dental professionals as necessary (ex: oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists) Communication between all the team members is essential.
Depending on the particular case, extractions may be needed to create space or alleviate crowding. In more extreme cases, orthodontic alignment may involve orthognathic jaw surgery to help optimally set the upper and lower jaws in relation to each other in conjunction with the brackets.
When it comes to actually moving or aligning the teeth, several options are available including traditional braces (metal or porcelain), lingual braces or invisible aligners such as Invisalign™. Your orthodontist will help you decide which option is best to achieve the results you want. Some patients will require a full-mouth treatment plan. Others will be able to treat just the dental arch in question, if the bite allows for it. Other options may also be available depending on each patient’s individual needs.
Not only does an optimally aligned smile and jaw line affect how your smile presents you to other people, but it can also affect and improve the way your teeth function together. It’s never TOO LATE to get started!