How many times have you hidden a smile behind your hand or felt self-conscious about how your smile looks? A smile is as natural to humans as breathing, but too many of us hesitate to smile freely. The appearance of your teeth shouldn’t be the reason for keeping your smile caged. At Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA we believe that braces for adults can give every patient a beautiful smile!
Braces for Adults: FAQ
Patients who are considering adult orthodontic care share many of the same questions. Are adult braces worth it? Are they painful? Are you even a candidate? Rest assured that you are not alone as most adult patients have the same concerns.
Is It Too Late to Fix My Teeth?
It is never too late to fix your teeth. When we think of braces, we tend to think of them as something reserved for teenagers. However, orthodontic care is not something only for middle school and high school students.
Dental care is a life-long pursuit, which is why we continue to have dental cleanings and other treatments even as we reach late adulthood. A healthy mouth is the key to a healthy body, after all. Having a healthy smile is no different. In fact, orthodontic care for adults is both common and becoming more accessible as technology continues to advance.
How Common Are Braces for Adults?
Braces for adults is much more common than many patients assume. In fact, at our practice at least 1/3 of our patients are seen for adult orthodontic care. In America alone, over 27% of orthodontic patients are adults, meaning they are over the age of 18. Adults who are seeking orthodontic care are also becoming more common now that new techniques and treatment methods are more easily accessed.
What Are Common Adult Orthodontic Treatments?
In orthodontics, we have a wide range of techniques that we use to administer orthodontic care. By far the most common adult orthodontic treatment are techniques that help straighten teeth. At our office, the two more common adult orthodontic treatments include:
Traditional wire braces are commonly used to straighten adult teeth. Braces such as these are a non-surgical, minimally invasive treatment that involves applying metal fasteners on the teeth that hold them in place while a wire tugs the teeth into a cleaner formation. Braces such as these have been used to straighten teeth successfully for many decades and are typically what people think of when they talk about braces. Braces can treat mild, moderate, and severe orthodontic concerns.
Invisalign is a popular orthodontic treatment for patients who have mild or moderate teeth alignment issues. Invisalign is a treatment that uses clear aligners made of hard, durable plastic that can help gradually straighten teeth and correct other tooth alignment issues. Although a newer method, this orthodontic treatment is just as effective as braces. This treatment is preferred by patients who want to straighten teeth subtly.
Why Should I Consider Adult Braces?
There are plenty of reasons why adult patients consider braces. Whether your orthodontic concerns are mild or severe, adult braces are an excellent option for many patients. Reasons why you should consider adult braces include:
Improve Gum Health
Braces can improve gum health and prevent gum disease. Gum disease is often caused by teeth that cannot be properly cleaned, leading to a build-up of plaque and bacteria that can irritate the gums and cause inflammation, infection, and even receding gums. Straightened teeth can make it easier to adequately clean teeth at the gum line, meaning your risk for developing gum disease decreases.
Improve Tooth Health
Teeth can be injured in many ways, but the most common tooth injury is caused by carries, or cavities that form on the surface of teeth. Cavities are caused by plaque eating away at the tooth enamel, which can create pits and hollows on the tooth surface. When teeth are straight and better aligned, it is much easier to clean teeth and prevent the development of cavities on and between teeth.
For many patients, the main motivation for adult braces is an aesthetic improvement. Adult orthodontics can be used to straighten the teeth, which can create a more perfect smile and improve your overall appearance. An improvement to the aesthetics of your teeth can also make it easier to have other dental treatments, such as teeth whitening.
Having a smile you are comfortable with is an invaluable benefit of braces for adults. When you are happy with your smile, you will have an overall boost of confidence that will make you quicker to laugh and smile without feeling self-conscious over the appearance of your teeth.
How Are Adult Braces Different From Braces for Teens or Children?
Many adult patients want to know about the difference between adult braces and braces that are used on children or teens. Braces are braces, right? While on the surface it is true that most orthodontic care is the same regardless of your age, the main difference between braces for children, teens, and adults is the approach for treatment. In orthodontics, there are two different phases for treatment: Phase I and Phase II.
Phase I orthodontic care are treatments used to correct the structure of the mouth in children as young as seven. Phase I treatments are used with baby teeth, or the teeth that fall out to make room for permanent adult teeth. Treatments for Phase I include correcting crossbites, overbites, underbites, and other structure-related concerns that may cause adult teeth to grow in crookedly.
Phase II treatments in orthodontics are those that correct the placement of adult teeth. Phase II treatments can be used for older children, teens, and adults and typically include braces and retainers to correct tooth alignment. For adults, Phase II is the most common treatment. If you have structure-related issues as an adult, the correction may require some work by an oral surgeon before Phase II treatment can be implemented.
What Can Be Accomplished With Adult Orthodontics?
Adult orthodontics can do a lot:
- Straighten teeth
- Align jaw and bites
- Correct crowded teeth
- Close tooth gaps
Adult orthodontics correct bite issues and gaps that may have plagued a person for their whole life. Some common issues we correct include:
An overbite is when the alignment of your jaws means that your upper jaw protrudes further than your lower jaw. An overbite creates a space between the front upper teeth and the front lower teeth, which creates an uneven bite. Many people notice a pronounced overbite when they bite into food and notice that the front upper teeth are exerting the most pressure. Small overbites are common and can go untreated, but pronounced overbites can stress the teeth and lead to damage later.
An underbite is when the alignment of your jaws means that your lower jaw protrudes further than your upper jaw. An underbite can be detected by a lower jaw that juts forward and by a noticeable space between the lower front teeth and the upper front teeth. Underbites can cause damage or chipping to the upper front teeth as well as pain in the lower jaw and face.
A crossbite is when the alignment of your jaws means that your teeth, particularly your molars and back teeth, are not evenly aligned. Crossbites happen when the upper jaw is too narrow, creating an upper bite that is close to the tongue, or when either jaw is too wide, creating a bite that is close to the cheeks. Crossbites can make it difficult to chew food well, and can also lead to pain in the jaws.
A gap tooth is when there is a noticeable space between two teeth. It is common to have a gap tooth between the two front teeth, but gap teeth can occur between any teeth in the mouth. The cause of a gap tooth can be gum disease, which causes the teeth to move further apart, or missing teeth.
A crooked tooth is a tooth that grows in at an angle or with a twist. Crooked teeth are often caused by overcrowding and are particularly common in the front teeth on both the upper and lower jaw.
What Can I Expect From Adult Braces Treatment?
Traditional braces work by using a combination of wires and other dental tools to pull teeth into a straighter alignment. Common materials used in traditional braces include wires, metal fasteners, and rubber bands. Patients who are considering adult braces can expect a few steps for treatment, including:
You will need a consultation with an orthodontist to determine if adult braces are an appropriate option for you. We will examine the condition of your teeth and particularly any areas of misalignment that are a cause for concern. We will discuss your previous dental history, including your dental hygiene habits, any oral surgeries you have had, and any other orthodontic treatments you have tried.
Adult braces require an installation of the brackets, fasteners, and wires into the mouth. Dental glue is used to fuse the brackets onto the teeth, and the wire is threaded through the fasteners, held in place by rubber bands. Installation of braces takes about 60 to 90 minutes, depending on the placement of the teeth and any other hardware that needs to be installed.
After your braces are installed, you will need to attend several appointments to continue adjusting the wires of the braces. The adjustments are usually done once a month to ensure the teeth continue moving into the right alignment. Adjustments involve replacing rubber bands and wires and take less than 30 minutes.
While you have your braces, it is also important to keep up with regular dental appointments. Traditional braces can make it difficult to clean teeth around the wire and brackets, so it is important to have your teeth cleaned regularly. It is common to have regular cleanings at your adjustment appointments.
What Can I Expect From Invisalign Treatment?
Patients who consider Invisalign for orthodontic care are usually those who are interested in a subtle straightening of the teeth. Invisalign treatment can only be done with a dentist or orthodontist who is partnered with Invisalign. There are a few steps you can expect from Invisalign treatment, such as:
Before you can have invisible aligners, you will need an appointment with an orthodontist to screen you for treatment. We will assess the condition of your teeth, particularly any crowding or crooked teeth. Invisalign is most appropriate for patients who have no significant structural concerns. We will need your dental history, including any previous orthodontic treatments you have had.
We will need an impression of your teeth in order to have your aligners made. Impressions are done with a clay-like material that makes an impression of your tooth alignment. Impressions are sent off to Invisalign to create the series of aligners that will be used for your treatment, which usually takes about four weeks.
Invisible aligners are made with a clear hard plastic that sits around teeth to tug teeth into a straighter alignment. Aligners are worn for about two weeks at a time. Each new set of aligners has a subtle change that will straighten teeth. It is important to wear aligners for the majority of the day, including during the night.
While you are using Invisalign, you will need to attend an appointment about every six weeks to see how well you are responding to treatment. Appointments allow alterations of your next aligners as well as any other adjustments to your treatment that need to be made.
How Long Will I Have to Wear Braces?
Like wearing braces at any other age, adults who have braces will wear braces for different amounts of time. It is typically for braces to be worn for one to three years. Depending on the severity of your orthodontic concerns, you may wear adult braces for more or less time. The length of time you wear braces also depends on the type of braces you have and if any additional structure-related treatments need to be done before braces are worn.
Will I Need a Retainer?
Whether you use traditional braces or Invisalign, you will need to wear a retainer after your braces come off to maintain the desired results. Retainers are usually made of clear plastic material but can also use a wire connected to a rubber piece that sits in the upper palate of your mouth. Retainers are generally worn during the nighttime hours, such as when you are sleeping and when you no longer plan to eat anything.
Are Results Permanent?
If you wear your retainer and keep up with regularly scheduled dental cleanings, the results for adult braces can last a lifetime. The permanent results of adult braces largely rely on the health of the permanent teeth that have been corrected. You can extend the results of your adult braces by maintaining dental hygiene.
Am I a Good Braces for Adults Candidate?
There is a very high chance that you are a candidate for adult braces. Adult orthodontics have very few restrictions that prevent patients from seeking treatment for the correction of their tooth alignment. You may be a good candidate for adult braces if you want to:
- Straighten and realign teeth
- Close gaps in teeth
- Correct crooked teeth
- Protect gum and tooth health
- Improve your smile and self-confidence
It’s Never Too Late for Braces for Adults!
Fixing your teeth can happen at any stage of your life, even for adults. Whether you are a young adult, nearing middle age, or at a mature age, braces for adults is a treatment that anyone concerned about the appearance of their smile should pursue. If you think that our adult orthodontic care might be right for you, contact Davis Orthodontics in San Diego, CA to schedule your initial consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to help you perfect your smile!