The boom in cosmetic dentistry is prompting more adults to consider orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth, something once thought of as the preserve of children. So if you think you’re too old for orthodontic treatment, think again. Some adults are even opting to have orthodontic treatment at the same time their children do! Many patients seeking orthodontic treatment in adulthood are people who were unable to have treatment when they were growing up, but the good news is you are never too old to start.
Orthodontic treatment at any age is one of the most fantastic cosmetic dental procedures available today. Although it takes a little longer to complete than many of the other cosmetic dental procedures it has some significant advantages in that once completed it requires little or no ongoing cost to maintain the result for the rest of your lifetime. Moving your teeth can also add youthfulness to your face by changing the shape of your jaw and face, and adding increased support for your lips reducing the need for other cosmetic procedures to the face.
We can also combine orthodontics and other cosmetic dental treatments like whitening, gum lifts, and other restorative procedures to achieve an even better result for you. This is an area we have a special interest in, so if you are unhappy with your smile, please call us to discuss how we can help you achieve the smile you have always wanted. Another benefit we offer through modern technology is computer modelling to show you the difference orthodontic treatment is likely to make to your facial profile. If you’re unsure whether orthodontic treatment is right for you it’s a useful aid to help you decide on what is best for you.
Orthodontics is also good for your health as crooked or crowded teeth can cause uneven wear of tooth surfaces or jaw problems that may lead to complications later in life. Crooked and crowded teeth can also be difficult to clean properly, which makes them more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
What types of teeth straightening options are available for adults?
Fixed braces – the traditional kind that attach to teeth – generally require 12 to 30 months to work, no matter what your age. After the braces are removed, both adults and young people will have to wear a retainer. Retainers are either a removable appliance like a mouth guard that keeps teeth from shifting into their previous positions, or a fine wire that is permanently bonded to the back of teeth where it can’t be seen.
While the stigma of wearing braces as an adult has all but disappeared, not everyone wants to show a mouth full of metal when they smile. Fortunately, cosmetic options such as ceramic or “tooth-coloured” braces; lingual braces that fit behind the teeth; and clear, removable “aligners” are available. The most widely available types of orthodontic treatments for adults are:
These are the braces that most people are familiar with. But, they have been around for decades, and are not perceived as being as trendy as some of the newer options. Despite that, the metal braces available today are highly sophisticated, and allow greater control of tooth movement than some of the newer technologies. Plus, they are usually the least expensive type of braces, and in most cases they are also the fastest acting.
So, although not as aesthetically pleasing as the newer options, you are often out of your braces sooner when metal braces are used. For those who prefer the advantages of metal braces, but are not thrilled about the aesthetics they can be made funkier by the use of coloured elastics around the metal brackets.
Ceramic “Tooth-Coloured” Braces
These are braces where the bracket (the part glued to the tooth) is made of a ceramic material or a plastic polymer. They are mainly used on the most visible teeth – the upper or upper front ones. Their main advantage over metal braces is that they blend into the tooth so are a lot less visible, while still allowing most of the range of tooth movements achievable with metal braces.
When these types of braces were first released there were some problems with staining over time, but these problems have now largely disappeared. They are the preferred option for many adults, but do have a few drawbacks compared to metal braces. In general, they cost more to use partly because they cost more to buy, and partly because the treatment takes longer using these braces – up to six months longer in many cases. They also tend to break more, so you may have to make more visits during your treatment to have them replaced if this happens to you.
Sequential Plastic Aligners
A series of clear removable plastic aligners can be used to straighten your teeth without metal wires or brackets. As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will move, little by little, week by week, until they have straightened to the desired position. Because the aligners are made of a clear material they can be worn, and often go unnoticed by people around you.
If patients choose to use these removable plastic aligners to correct crooked teeth, they must be disciplined about wearing each aligner in the series for the prescribed amount of time in order to get the best results. So, they don’t have the fit and forget advantage of metal or ceramic braces. But, food can’t get stuck between teeth with this form of orthodontics since no brackets or wires are used, and there isn’t the problem of rubbing against the inside of the lips and cheeks that can sometimes occur with braces.
Another advantage this method of orthodontics has is that it usually involves fewer visits to the dentist during treatment, but it is normally a lot more expensive than metal or ceramic braces. Sequential plastic aligners can align teeth but, as yet, they cannot correct significant bite discrepancies. To put it another way, they can only be used to correct your orthodontic problems if they are relatively simple.
If you are interested in orthodontic treatment, but are put off by the thought of braces, contact us for a consultation to see if this approach is suitable for you. Sequential plastic aligners are available from different companies including ClearSmile, Invisalign and TruLine.
These are braces, usually metal, that sit behind the teeth, on the tongue side. These are the ultimate in invisible orthodontics while still allowing a relatively wide range of tooth movements to be achieved. For patients with more complex problems who really don’t want to be seen wearing braces, these maybe their best option.
However, this is a very specialised branch of orthodontics offered by few practitioners, and one that we currently do not offer. But, we are happy to refer you to someone who does if it was felt this was the best option for you. Other than limited availability, the other significant drawback of lingual braces is the expense. They are currently the most expensive way to straighten teeth, with the cost of treatment extending into the five figure range.