Wondering If You Are Too Old For Orthodontic Treatment?:
Ways Your Smile Changes As An Adult & How Orthodontics Can Still Help
If you are wondering if you are too old for orthodontic treatment, you are not alone. It is a common question for many orthodontists. The short answer to the question: no. Even though childhood is the ideal time to make changes in teeth positioning, it doesn’t matter if you’re in your golden years, orthodontic treatment for adults can be just as effective as it is with adolescents.
With orthodontics, the same physiological process that moves teeth through bone happens no matter what age we are. You may be surprised to learn that today, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in four orthodontic treatment patients is an adult. With the variety of treatment options available now, that number continues to rise.
Ways Your Smile Changes As You Age
Multiple things are changing in our bodies as we age, including our smiles. As we’ve already established, teeth can shift well into adulthood. These are some of the common changes dental and orthodontic professionals see in adult patients:
A gap in front teeth
A space between two front teeth, known as a diastema, can develop for a variety of reasons. One reason that can cause spacing to gradually occur is the crowding of teeth or unproportioned jaws and teeth. Also, swallowing with the pressure of your tongue pushing against your front teeth, rather than positioning itself at the roof of your mouth, can cause teeth to separate over time. Because of the inflammation, gum disease is another trigger for spacing.
Crowding of bottom teeth
Naturally, as you age, your jaw bone shrinks and loses density. Then, because of the mismatched size of the jaw bone with teeth, crowding of the bottom front teeth can occur. Crowding can also occur because of other issues such as reverse swallowing, breathing through your mouth, facial trauma, or tongue thrusting.
Do you suffer from headaches or back pain, grind your teeth, have clicking and popping jaw joints? You may have a bite disorder. This occurs when the upper and lower jaw doesn’t align, called malocclusion.
Post-orthodontic teeth shifting
Our bodies change our whole life, and as we established above, our teeth change too. After orthodontic treatment, a retainer is needed to help keep teeth in position. As we grow older, if teeth are restored or lost along the way, you will need new proper fitting retainers to prevent unwanted change.
Innovations In Orthodontic Treatment Can Help
If you are noticing changes in your smile as you age, like the ones mentioned above, it is not too late. One of the reasons more and more adults are getting orthodontic treatment is because of the advances in treatment options that are now available. The traditional noticeable metal brackets that many people think of are not the only choice you have to go with now.
The innovations in orthodontic treatments have made them less obtrusive and more comfortable. Today’s treatments are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit any lifestyle. Options now range from smaller metal brackets, ceramic brackets, clear brackets like the Damon system, clear aligners like Invisalign, or even lingual appliances that attach to the back of the teeth so the wires and brackets don’t show when you smile.
Don’t let the thought of having visible braces as an adult scare you away from restoring your smile. With the orthodontic appliances available today, you can be correcting your teeth with hardly anyone noticing.
Factors To Consider For Adult Orthodontic Treatment
As you can see, you are never too old for orthodontic treatment. If you’re considering starting treatment to correct longstanding bite or cosmetic problems or to remedy the effects of tooth loss, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Because, as an adult, bone growth has stopped, it may take slightly longer for orthodontic treatment compared to treatment in children. According to Harvard Medical School, adult orthodontic treatment can take about two years.
- Also since bone growth has stopped by the time you reach adulthood, certain major structural changes can only be achieved by surgery. This mainly affects people with significant crowding, bite, or jaw problems. But, here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics, we can provide an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique issues.
- Some medications or habits like smoking, tongue thrust, or clenching or grinding teeth can affect the outcome of treatment. When it comes to adult orthodontic treatment care, it is not uncommon for orthodontists to work with a patient’s family dentist to coordinate care. For some adults to reach optimal dental health, the dentist and orthodontist may need to involve other dental specialists in the care plan, such as oral surgeons, periodontists, and endodontists.
- Not every type of orthodontic appliance is the right fit for the correction of every kind of orthodontic problem. This is another reason to make sure you are being treated by an orthodontist directly so you can be confident you will be using the right appliance to correct your problem. Orthodontists have access to the full range of appliances, and they know more than anyone else in the dental profession which appliance is right for an individual patient’s orthodontic care.
Your Team Of Dental Experts Can Help Restore Your Smile
Here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics, you can trust our dental experts, both members of the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), to provide the best solution for you for adult orthodontic treatment. We can also work with your dentist or other dental experts as necessary to ensure you have the most effective and individualized treatment plan.
You’re never too old for orthodontics and we possess the skills and expertise to help you reach your best smile. Call us regarding any questions you may have or schedule your appointment today!