Kids hate braces, primarily because of when they get them. But that doesn’t mean that braces are bad. If you’re dissatisfied with your tooth alignment and want to improve your smile, or improve your oral health and comfort in general through realignment, adult braces are an easy and effective form of cosmetic dentistry.
There’s no such thing as being “too old” for cosmetic dentistry. As many as three-quarters of adults have some form of orthodontic problem, and braces (whether traditional or clear) are effective at any age. The procedures change slightly for older patients, with most orthodontists favoring more gradual and lower-pressure realignments for individuals who have stopped growing, but that hasn’t stopped the 1.2 million adults who received orthodontic treatment in 2012.
As an adult, caring for your braces is easier; you know what needs to be done, and you don’t have the distractions of school and hormones getting in the way. You’ll be personally invested in the process, instead of forced into it by your parents, and you’ll be able to have more in-depth conversations about your orthodontic needs with your orthodontist. All around, adult orthopedic treatment works.
The caveat, of course, is that it’s hard to work on a mistreated mouth. Adults are more likely to experience gum disease and have more fillings and crowns (on average) than teenagers. This can limit the kinds of adjustments that orthodontists can make, and delay the care process; you can’t start until your existing issues are taken care of.
The advantage that children have when receiving orthodontic care is that their jaws and facial bones are still growing; not so for adults. Where it’s possible to correct a misalignment by shaping how the jaw grows for children, adults are more likely to require surgery to complete their adjustments.
Traditional Braces Vs. Clear Aligners
Clear plastic teeth aligners are popular among adults, as they don’t impinge on the patient’s aesthetics while care is taking place. The downside to clear aligners is the rate and degree of change that’s possible without using metal and wire; they’re great for small adjustments and improvements, but they can’t replace traditional braces when it comes to larger changes.
Keep in mind, though, that most negative impressions of traditional braces and how they look arise from when people typically get them. Most adults find that few people respond negatively to adult braces, and that most people are less judgemental as a whole. Spending 12-18 months in braces also feels like a significantly shorter period of time in your 30’s, when compared to your teens.
There are also ceramic braces available, offering a compromise between the effectiveness of metal braces and the low-profile nature of clear aligners. These braces use ceramic anchors instead of metal anchors, matching the color of your teeth.
Other Orthodontic Treatments
If you’re interested in cosmetic treatments but don’t want to commit to the sometimes-lengthy process of wearing braces, there are other options available to you.
If you’re struggling with chipped, damaged, or stained teeth, veneers are an easy way to improve your oral appearance without moving teeth. Veneers coat the teeth in a layer of porcelain, changing the shape and color of the tooth to create a more ideal image.
The less invasive version of veneers is known as composite bonding. When bonding teeth, a dentist will drill out decay or damage and sculpt a custom-fit composite to fill the hole and create a more aesthetic tooth. The composite is then cured in the mouth with a high-intensity light to create an appealing and non-invasive bond. It’s one of the least expensive options available.
In more severe cases, dentists can also use implants or remove extra teeth to improve oral aesthetics. This is often done for patients who have neglected their teeth, or who have small jaws and suffer from tooth crowding.
All of these treatments, and more, can help you improve your smile. If you’re interested in orthodontic care or would like to learn more about how adult orthodontic procedures work, schedule an appointment with Dr. Halsema to see what options are available to you. Adult braces and other treatments aren’t nearly as scary as you’d think.