A teenager sporting a mouthful of braces might be the first image that comes to mind when you think of an orthodontic patient. At Sawgrass Orthodontics, we certainly do treat many adolescents. However, that’s far from the only demographic we’re familiar with. In fact, about 25% of orthodontic patients today are adults. Just like anyone we see, these patients need solutions to fit their lives, not the other way around.
Crafting custom treatment solutions is what we do, and there are many reasons you might need quality orthodontic care as an adult. It’s never too late to find your way to an orthodontist’s office; let’s go over some reasons you might need to make a visit.
A Changing Landscape
A common misconception about teeth is that they’re finished developing once the teenage years end. This period of huge physical change is certainly significant for the way your mouth develops, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. Even if your teeth look straight in adolescence, adult shifting can lead to misalignment, jaw pain, and a smile you’re not satisfied with. Injuries, oral health, and many other factors can also play a role in changing the landscape of your teeth.
There’s Never Been a Better Time
For many reasons, some people either don’t want to or aren’t able to receive orthodontic treatment in their teenage years. They get into adulthood, and they realize that it’s just the right time to get the smile they’ve always wanted. Maybe the reasons are aesthetic in nature, or maybe their dentist has referred them to an orthodontist for the sake of their health. A dentist might do this because teeth straightening can often help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Especially in adult patients, these problems are quite common if you aren’t careful. Orthodontic treatment in concert with good oral hygiene means a healthy, pristine set of teeth.
What We’re Looking At
Adult orthodontics need to be approached differently than adolescent orthodontics for a few reasons. Because the landscape of the mouth is quite different with adults, a few challenges are presented when seeking treatment that aren’t usually involved with the treatment of younger patients.
OLD EXTRACTION SITES
When an orthodontic appliance is used on an adult, it can be difficult to shift teeth into a position where a tooth has been previously removed. If teeth need to move into these areas, we often use prosthetic bone to make it possible. This might sound like a relatively invasive procedure, but it’s actually quite straightforward.
In adult patients, bones are generally much harder than in adolescent patients. This means that teeth can have a harder time moving during treatment–imagine a ship sailing in ice as opposed to sailing in clear waters. To be accurate and effective, treatments need to take place over a longer time period and are often more involved than with children and teenagers.
AESTHETICS AND PAIN
Many adults are concerned with their appearance as they undergo treatment. Who wouldn’t be? Nobody wants an appliance affecting the way they go about their daily life. Traditional braces aren’t very appealing for many, but sometimes they are the most effective and cost-efficient option. Luckily, there are some great alternatives that are more aesthetically pleasing.
Others are more concerned that treatment will be painful. At Sawgrass Orthodontics, we do everything we can to make sure the process is as comfortable as possible. Very little pain should be expected with modern techniques, and any discomfort you experience shouldn’t last for more than a few days with proper care. Each patient and each technique is different, though, and your orthodontist will be able to give you the best idea about what level of discomfort you can expect.
What Are Your Options?
There is a whole world of options for adults seeking orthodontic treatment. All of these treatments start with an initial consultation during which an orthodontist can discuss your unique circumstances with you. Every situation is different, but most adult patients deal with a one or more of these common problems:
- Crowded teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Gapped teeth
- A malocclusion (misaligned teeth)
The great majority of these cases can be treated with the following noninvasive techniques.
TRADITIONAL AND NON-TRADITIONAL BRACES
Even for adult patients, traditional metal braces are a popular option. They’re more comfortable than ever and extremely effective. We find that adults can grow accustomed to wearing these for the duration of the treatment, and can become quite comfortable with the way they look for the relatively short time they need to be worn.
Lingual and clear ceramic braces are two options that are often more agreeable when it comes to looks. Lingual braces sit behind the teeth, making them completely invisible when you smile. Clear ceramic braces are similar to traditional metal braces, but aren’t as noticeable.
Both of these solutions will require the patient to pay close attention to their oral hygiene, as they are a bit more difficult to keep completely clean than their stainless steel counterparts. These also can’t be used in as many cases as traditional braces; your orthodontist will be able to tell you more about these options and how they can be applied to your situation.
For patients who want to circumvent braces altogether, Invisalign is an attractive solution. These are invisible and completely removable, allowing patients to eat and drink whatever they like. As an added bonus, you won’t have to worry about these collecting stains as long as you remember to keep up a regular, thorough oral care routine. They’re made from a stain-resistant, BPA-free thermoplastic material that delivers great results.
You’ll have a new aligner every few weeks, as the system uses a series of gradually changing sets that gently guide your teeth into place. As long as you keep up with your treatment, you’ll start seeing results in no time!
If you’ve got more questions about potential treatment, you should consult with an orthodontist. Our practice has plenty of experience working with patients of all ages, and we’d love to hear about your needs. You can schedule a consultation at our Sunrise, Florida office by calling 954.514.2111, or by filling out this easy contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!
- Dr. LangfordBack to Blog