What comes to mind when you think about braces? For many people, braces are synonymous with those awkward teen years, acne, and bad yearbook pictures. Thankfully, that’s no longer our reality when it comes to orthodontics.
Braces have come a long way over the years with better technology, more applications, and better access to treatment. Adolescents are no longer the only ones benefiting from orthodontic treatment as more adults invest in building healthier smiles.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontia is a specialized branch of dentistry that corrects dental issues like crooked teeth and misaligned bites. Braces and orthodontic appliances apply pressure to teeth to slowly move them into the correct position for a healthier smile.
There are many benefits to orthodontics, including increased self-confidence. Did you know that straighter teeth can impact your overall physical health? That gorgeous smile you dream of could be more important than you realize.
- Straight, evenly spaced teeth make cleanings much easier because you eliminate hard to reach areas. If you can clean all of the surfaces of your teeth, you’re not leaving behind cavity-causing debris and bacteria.
- Crooked, overlapping, and crowded teeth cause excess wear and increase your chances of tooth decay.
- Do you suffer from jaw pain or headaches? A misaligned bite could be the reason, and it’s correctable with orthodontic treatment.
- We use our teeth to make several sounds in any language, so straighter teeth can improve speech for some people.
- Straight teeth and proper jaw alignment allow you to chew food effectively which aids in digestion.
- Poor oral health is linked to significant health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Straight teeth make proper oral care easier which can reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Braces for Adolescents
Braces are often associated with the awkward teen years, but that’s no longer the case. Orthodontists can treat conditions in younger adolescents and be proactive to avoid issues down the line.
Why Child Orthodontics Are Important
Spacing problems and bite misalignments don’t disappear on their own and can lead to pain, tooth decay, and low self-confidence in kids. Children should be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7 to identify potential issues and determine if treatment is necessary.
Child orthodontics may be important to help kids eat and speak properly. Orthodontic treatment for children can also help correct dental problems related to thumb-sucking, early or late loss of baby teeth, accidents, and poor nutrition.
Orthodontics in the Teen Years
Even if treatment is recommended for a child, many kids do not start the process until they are older, usually between ages 9 and 16 years. Since so many teens have braces at the same time, it lessens the stigma of having them. Teens can even choose colors of braces to express individuality or team spirit.
Since older children, especially teenagers, have lost their baby teeth, orthodontists can address their permanent teeth. Addressing bite problems and issues with adult teeth during the teen years is important. Teens are still growing, so it’s easier to shift the teeth and jaw while they are still pliable.
Braces for Adults
Many people choose to pursue adult braces to improve their smiles. Straight teeth can give you a confidence boost, but they can also correct issues that only adults face. Aging, environmental issues, and bad habits can impact your smile, but adult orthodontia can help.
- Adult braces can help people struggling with periodontal problems.
- Braces can help prevent or reduce bone loss around your teeth.
- Adult orthodontia can improve function and strength for people who notice weakness or declining oral health.
- It’s easier to restore missing teeth with the aid of adult braces.
For some people, braces aren’t an option until adulthood. Between tax returns and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), it may be easier to budget for braces as a working adult.
How Are Adult Braces Different from Adolescent Braces?
There are some key differences between adult braces and adolescent braces. Adult orthodontia generally addresses different issues, but orthodontists also have to account for other factors when treating adults.
- Age-related conditions, like bone loss and mild gingivitis, could alter the treatment plan for adults.
- Bite correction in adult orthodontia is more complex because of worn teeth, inability to create more space, and the bones are fully formed in adults.
- Tooth extraction and tooth loss could mean there is more bone loss for an adult than in an adolescent.
- Root resorption is a greater risk with adult braces. Adults need to be closely monitored for the condition which involves the body reabsorbing a tooth root leaving nothing to anchor the tooth to your jaw.
- Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ) is more common in adults and could impact your course of treatment.
- Braces are common for teens, but some adults struggle with having braces. The psychosocial implications for adult orthodontics should be discussed with your orthodontist as you build a treatment plan.
Orthodontic Treatment Options
Technology has changed the way we do braces. Even traditional braces are lower profile and lighter than before, making them more functional and efficient. When building a treatment plan with your orthodontist, you’ll also need to consider the braces options for adults and adolescents.
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are lighter, smaller, and more efficient than ever, but they remain a staple in orthodontic treatment. They slowly, gently shift your teeth with minimal discomfort during the process.
Orthodontists apply metal brackets to your teeth with special glue. Then, a wire is attached to elastic bands. At each visit, the wire is replaced to maintain the pressure necessary to move your teeth.
Traditional metal braces give your orthodontist more control over the progression. Changes tend to be noticeable earlier in the process than some other treatment options.
Clear and Ceramic Braces
Clear and ceramic braces function like traditional metal braces, but they are less noticeable. They are often called invisible braces because the brackets blend more with the natural color of your teeth.
Invisalign Clear Aligners
Of the braces options for adults, Invisalign is the least noticeable. You wear custom removable trays that fit perfectly over your teeth. Remove the trays to eat and drink, brush your teeth, and put the trays back in to go about your day.
The process involves scanning your teeth to build a 3D image of your mouth. Based on the 3D imaging, clear plastic trays are made custom for you. Each tray is worn for a week and then replaced with another one. As you progress through Invisalign trays, your teeth shift slightly.
Invisalign is an exciting option for adult orthodontia because the trays aren’t noticeable and have little impact on daily life. Appointments are also faster and less frequent than other types of braces, so it means less time off work or away from the family.
When Should I See an Orthodontist?
Children should be evaluated between the ages of 7 and 10, or if your dentist has suggested it. Adults may pursue orthodontics for cosmetic reasons, or because a dentist recommended them to seek treatment.
If you’re interested in discussing your orthodontic options, the team at Jefferson Dental Care is happy to help. We offer affordable braces and orthodontic treatment to patients of all ages because we want everyone to have a healthy smile they deserve! Contact the office nearest you to get started!