Posted July 28, 2014
Do you want to enhance your smile, but think you’re too old for braces? Not so, reports the American Association of Orthodontists. Today one in five orthodontia patients are over age 18.
While it is easier to make changes in the structure of the mouth during in middle school or high school, orthodontists say that adult patients can also experience excellent results with braces.
Before making this decision, adults should know four important facts:
- Surgery may be required – Since the adult jaw bone is fixed and no longer growing, surgery may be necessary to make structural changes
- It may take years – It takes longer to straighten adult teeth and fix bite problems; adults may need to wear braces several years
- Dental work may be necessary – Some adults may have problems with gum (periodontal) disease and require additional treatment by a periodontist
- No insurance coverage – Most dental insurance plans do not cover adult orthodontia; depending on the style of braces selected, treatment costs may be $5,000 to $6,000
Adults who had braces as teenagers may need additional treatment when they are older due to shifting teeth and bite changes. These alterations occur for a variety of reasons, such as stress, accidents, or in the case that a retainer wasn’t worn long enough to keep teeth in place. And today, many orthodontia patients have permanent retainers.
The orthodontist association reports that today’s braces are more comfortable and less obtrusive. Many styles are smaller and require fewer brackets.
Conventional metal braces are still widely used, but other options are available for, and popular with, adults:
- Ceramic braces – Similar in design to metal braces, the brackets are ceramic or tooth-colored, so only the metal wires are visible
- Lingual braces – Attached to the back of the teeth, facing the tongue, this style is nearly invisible; however, lingual braces are more challenging for orthodontists to adjust and the design may irritate the tongue
- Acrylic aligners – This style is popular because the mouthpiece is similar to a whitening tray; they are clear, custom-fitted and removable for easy cleaning; every two weeks a new mouth piece is used to ensure continuous adjustment
For most adult patients, it’s never too late for orthodontia treatment. Contact your dentist or orthodontist to review available options.