Many of us had our teeth straightened as youngsters, but for those of us that didn’t –or those whose teeth have drifted after being corrected–orthodontics as adults seems like an attractive option. There are some challenges to getting orthodontics as an adult, but there are also more benefits, too.
Challenge: Bones More Resistant to Change
One of the reasons why orthodontics are recommended when we’re young is that growing bones are more malleable and easier to shape. They will adapt easier to the forces that are moving your teeth, making it easier to make bigger changes in your teeth.
As an adult, the process may take longer and we may have to accept that we can’t do everything you might like.
Benefit: You’re Committed to the Procedure
One of the problems many teens have with orthodontic treatment is that it wasn’t their choice. Their parents wanted braces for them. This can make them less committed to the procedure. But if you’ve chosen it, made the decision, and are committed to make it work, you are more likely to follow our instructions and get the results you desire–and keep them.
Challenge: Gum Disease Risk Is Higher
Gum disease risk increases with age. Because braces and even Invisalign can make it harder to keep your teeth clean, they can increase gum disease risk. The combination can elevate your gum risk significantly.
Benefit: You Are More Responsible with Oral Hygiene
With many teens, it’s hard enough to get them to clean their room once in a while, let alone brushing and flossing their teeth every day. Think back to what your oral hygiene was like as a teen and compare it to today. You’re much better than you were back then, right?
And even if you aren’t necessarily better, you have more willpower and can commit yourself to keeping your teeth cleaner and healthier during treatment.
Challenge: Fewer Peers Will Have Braces
Many adults hold off on getting braces because they think it will stigmatize them. They look around at their peers and see that very few people have braces, and they don’t want to stand out from everybody in that way.
Benefit: We’re All Adults Here
Most of the time, adults who are afraid of stigma associated with braces are actually reaching back to their teenage memories. They might think of people with braces in high school who were stigmatized, or back to their own fear of being stigmatized.
But, guess what, it’s not the same when you’re an adult. A lot of those teen angsty worries about braces are in the past, and you’ll find that your adult peers won’t respond negatively to your braces at all. (Besides, your braces can be subtler now than ever, see below!)
Challenge: Your Teeth May Be Worn in
As an adult, your teeth have had time to settle into their current places. This can mean that some of your teeth will be worn down by contact with other teeth (occlusion) more than others. When we move your teeth into place, they might look uneven.
Benefit: You Can Finally Get a Balanced Bite
Whether you move your teeth or not, they are already worn unevenly. And they are likely to continue to wear unevenly, which might not only make them look more crooked or imbalanced, but can lead to a worsening of TMJ and other bite issues. Jaw pain, headaches, ear pain or fullness and other TMJ symptoms will appear or worsen. But if you go ahead and straighten your teeth, it can prevent or eliminate TMJ.
And once we get your teeth straightened, porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or tooth reshaping can be used to help your teeth look nice, even if they were previously worn or damaged when they were crooked.
Bonus: Orthodontic Options Are Better Than Ever
Another good reason to go ahead and get orthodontics now as an adult is that your orthodontic options are better than they used to be. Invisalign allows you to use clear plastic aligners that are completely removable to straighten your teeth. Six Month Smiles uses translucent brackets and tooth-colored wires to move your teeth, which is also very subtle. Plus most cosmetic treatment can be completed in about six months, half the time for traditional braces.