Never Too Old for Orthodontic Treatment
Have you been dealing with crooked or crowded teeth or a poorly aligned bite? Maybe you think you’re too old for braces. But orthodontic treatment can be valuable for people of any age and the results are about more than just aesthetics. Crowding of the teeth or teeth that overlap can be hard to clean and that can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Malocclusion or a poor bite can cause problems with swallowing and chewing food. And when teeth are poorly aligned patients can have difficulty pronouncing words properly. Teeth that are not aligned properly can put excessive stress on the muscles that chew food which can lead to muscle pain in the face. The dental issues that can arise as a result of orthodontic problems are worth considering. No one is too old to benefit from straighter teeth and a healthy bite.
So, while adolescence is the perfect time for orthodontic treatment, patients of any age can benefit from having teeth that are well-aligned and a proper bite. Indeed, about 20 percent of all orthodontic patients are over the age of 18, so if you’re considering orthodontic treatment1 as an adult, you’re not alone. At Silver Lake Orthodontics, we often treat adults for orthodontic issues. There is no age limit for orthodontic treatment. If you have teeth that are crowded and if your bite isn’t quite right, orthodontic treatment can change the course of your overall dental health.
But orthodontic treatment in adults presents special issues and it’s important for patients to understand that long-standing bite and teeth alignment issues require a special touch. In adults, the bones of the jaw and mouth are no longer growing, so the structure of the oral cavity can only be altered with surgery. In contrast, in adolescence, the bone tissues are still somewhat malleable which means that different treatment strategies can be employed to put the teeth in place and to correct bite issues. Adults who seek out orthodontic treatment need to be aware that the strategies used to correct teeth alignment in adolescents are different from the strategies used to correct the same problems in adults.
So it’s important that patients are aware that if their considering orthodontic treatment at Silver Lake Orthodontics, the process of correcting orthodontic issues is different from adults than it is for adolescents. For an adult, the process of correcting crooked teeth or a poorly aligned bite may take longer than it would for a child or an adolescent. There’s quite a bit of variability in terms of how long it takes to complete treatment in adults, but as a general rule, it takes between 1 and 3 years.
And at Silver Lake Orthodontics, we generally recommend that patients see a periodontist if bone loss or gum disease is a potential issue. Patients who have suffered from crowding of the teeth or gum disease for many years may need specialized treatment to overcome certain dental issues during their orthodontic treatment.
Adult patients who get braces are often curious about how the process works and what to expect from the treatment. Braces work by attaching brackets to the teeth that then work as mechanical devices to gently push the teeth into alignment. Teeth that are subjected to pressure from one side will push against the bone tissues in the jaw and this force causes some of the bone next to the tooth root to dissolve. The tooth is then allowed to move in the direction of force. As the tooth moves, new bone builds back up in the space that was left empty on the other side of the tooth root. This change in the bone tissue allows movement of the teeth and prevents the teeth from returning to their original positions.
In some cases, it may be necessary for patients to have one or more teeth removed in order to commence orthodontic treatment. At Silver Lake Orthodontics, we do everything we can to avoid removing teeth because we feel it’s important for patients to retain as many of their natural teeth as possible, but often, crowding of the teeth in the mouth is due to a lack of space for proper alignment. We do a careful evaluation to create the best possible plan to proceed, but in some cases, tooth removal is necessary.
The most common type of orthodontic treatment used in adults is braces. They are extremely versatile and they have the ability to move the teeth in various directions all at the same time, so all the teeth can be treated at the same time, a major advantage that keeps treatment times to a minimum.
The brackets that are cemented to the teeth connect to an archwire that’s attached to molars and the force transmitted through this wire is responsible for the movement of the teeth. How the archwires are arranged can be customized by the orthodontist at Silver Lake Orthodontics, which means that pressure can be applied in different ways to different teeth. Tiny rubber bands or springs can be added to the brackets and archwires to change the dynamic of the tooth movement in specialized ways.
Getting braces put on initially takes only an hour or two. Many patients experience soreness during the initial days immediately after the braces are put in place. The discomfort typically only lasts a day or two and patients can take over-the-counter medication to keep pain to a minimum.
The amount of time that it takes to straighten teeth depends on the extent of the orthodontic issues and how much re-alignment is necessary. After an initial consultation, the orthodontist will provide a time estimate for treatment along with a sense of what kind of results are possible. Once the teeth have been thoroughly examined, we’ll develop a timeline for treatment along with a schedule of monthly visits and an action plan based on your unique situation.
So if you’ve waited long enough for straight teeth and you’re ready to do what’s necessary to create a healthier dental environment, set up an appointment2 with us today. Anyone at any age can enjoy the benefits of straight teeth and a healthy bite!