Orthodontic Options For AdultsBy Dr. Gene Caiafa
More and more adults these days are turning to orthodontics in order to achieve a straighter and more well-aligned smile. Whether they never had braces during their teenage years, or they did but their teeth have since shifted, there are many reasons why adults are increasingly opting to undergo orthodontic treatment. In fact, not only are young adults and middle aged adults considering options such as braces and Invisalign®, but dentists and orthodontists are even seeing a rise in older adults that decide that it’s never too late to have good-looking, straighter teeth.
Traditional metal braces seem to have become a rite of passage for pre-teens and teenagers, so generally few brace wearers at this age feel self conscious about sporting a mouth full of metal brackets and wires. However, if orthodontic treatment is undertaken when an individual is an adult, there may be an associated feeling of self consciousness during the time that braces are worn, since it is not as common to see an adult with a mouth full of metal.
The good news is that there are a number of orthodontic options for adults to consider today so they can decide to undergo orthodontic treatment on their own terms. Of course, there are traditional metal braces, which may be the least desirable from an aesthetic standpoint but do have their benefits. Metal braces are generally the most effective option for fixing severe misalignments of the teeth and bite issues, especially if the teeth are rotated or are of uneven lengths. However, unlike the large metal bands that many adults remember from their younger days, today’s metal braces use smaller brackets that are glued to the front surface of the teeth and are less obtrusive than their previous counterparts. This makes them less noticeable, less cumbersome and less uncomfortable to wear.
Another option that is similar in function to metal braces but is less obvious to the eye is clear braces. These encompass the same system of brackets and wires, but instead of the brackets being made from metal, they are made of a clear material that makes them more aesthetically pleasing. The primary drawback to this option, however, is that the clear brackets can become stained over time in those that regularly drink coffee or red wine, or who smoke. If this describes you, then choosing clear braces is probably not your best option.
One of the most popular orthodontic options for adults is Invisalign® and other brands of clear aligners. These are the least noticeable during treatment since they include no metal wires or brackets. Rather, the patient wears a series of clear aligners that are removable. The aligners are designed to subtly move teeth, and each aligner in the series is generally replaced with a new aligner after two weeks of wear. The aligners can be removed during eating and drinking and are removable for easy cleaning of both aligners and underlying teeth and gums. The primary drawback to this orthodontic option is that Invisalign® and other clear aligners may not be an effective option for those with severe bite issues, rotated teeth, teeth of uneven length or teeth that require extensive movement. Another drawback is that they tend to be more expensive than traditional braces.
Adults interested in straightening their teeth have a number of options to consider these days and can feel more comfortable with those options because they are in good company. In fact, some cosmetic dentists are noticing a trend pushing towards a nearly 50-50% split between teens and adults that are undergoing orthodontic treatment.