Orthodontics is not just for children and teens. Today, about 20% of the patients in orthodontic treatment are adults. The good news is that no one is too old for orthodontic treatment.
Adults seek orthodontic treatment for many of the same reasons as children. Some adults had orthodontic problems as children but were unable to correct them until now. Others, who had orthodontic treatment as children, may need further treatment as adults due to relapse or limitations in initial treatment.
Interviews with adult patients have described many of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Some of the orthodontic benefits that adults can expect include:
- Straighter teeth to create a more beautiful smile
- Re-straighten teeth after previous orthodontic treatment due to lack of long term retainer wear
- Being able to properly brush and floss, especially for crowded or overlapping lower front teeth
- Having a better or more comfortable bite and ability to chew
- Developing a plan for spaces from missing teeth
- Closing spaces between the teeth
- Improving excessive wear on the teeth due to grinding or poor bite
- Determining if jaw surgery is needed to correct severe problems between the upper and lower jaws
Appearance of Braces: Many adults are concerned with the appearance of braces. Often, Invisalign® (the invisible alternative to braces) can be used to treat adults. This technology involves clear removable aligners, fabricated through advanced 3D imaging to align the teeth. For more severe problems, there is the option of using clear ceramic brackets instead of metal brackets.
Soreness/Discomfort: Orthodontic treatment is no more uncomfortable for adults than children. Adults who decide to have braces and orthodontic treatment report the same level of soreness as children (although adults are more willing to tell us about the soreness).
Generally, as teeth move, some discomfort can be expected during the first 12-24 hours after an orthodontic adjustment and will disappear completely within 3 to 5 days. Modern orthodontic brace appliances are smaller and more comfortable to wear. Modern methods, with the new titanium technology, put less pressure on the teeth and as a result cause less discomfort, yet move the teeth more rapidly and efficiently. It also decreases the time required between appointments to every 8 – 10 weeks. Adult orthodontic treatment time can be as little as a few months. The average adult treatments are between 12-24 months, both for Invisalign, traditional braces and other clear aligner treatments.
Dr Donald E Machen DMD MSD MD
Board Certified Orthodontist, Diplomate, American Board of Orthodontics
Member of Pasadora Family Dental Centre