If you think braces are just for kids, think again. Adults are increasingly seeking orthodontic treatment to enhance their smile and boost self-confidence while improving their oral health. Figures from the Academy of General Dentistry reveal that a million people aged over 18 in the U.S. and Canada wear braces.
Celebrities who’ve worn braces as adults include Tom Cruise, who had ceramic brackets fitted when he was 40, and country music singer Faith Hill, who sported clear braces to the 2013 Grammy Awards at the age of 45.
More adults are now getting braces because they’re more effective, discreet and affordable compared with oral appliances of yesteryear. There are several reasons why adult orthodontic treatment makes sense.
Firstly, your smile is one of the first things people notice about you and it can say a lot, having a positive impact on those around you. However, if you’re too embarrassed to smile because of crooked teeth, this can lead to loss of self-esteem.
Some people even believe that their crooked teeth are preventing them from achieving their full potential. And there’s evidence to suggest they’re right.
A study carried out for the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) found that people with a winning smile were perceived as being more intelligent and successful. Other research, by the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics (AJO-DO), established that a person’s appearance can affect their ability to land a job. It concluded that people with “ideal” smiles are considered smarter.
Another reason adults may need braces is because teeth can shift out of proper position at any age, through natural growth of the mouth, a medical condition or injury.
Some people who had braces as a child may need them a second time, particularly if they neglected to wear their retainers as instructed, allowing their teeth to move back to their original misaligned position. Orthodontists today advise wearing retainers much longer than recommended in previous decades.
Avoiding Serious Health Problems
Getting braces as an adult can avoid serious dental issues. Research has shown that adults are just as susceptible as youngsters to developing crooked teeth and bite problems, which increase the risk of an accumulation of plaque and tartar that can result in:
- Gum disease (periodontitis).
- Tooth decay.
- Bone loss.
- Erosion of tooth enamel.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Oral issues are not the only health problems that adults with crooked teeth are prone to. You may also get an earache and headaches, and failure to chew your food properly because of an incorrect bite function can lead to digestive ailments.
What are My Braces Options?
Braces have evolved enormously over the years.
Metal braces are still a popular choice for adults and are better at correcting serious overcrowding of teeth than any other type of braces. Nowadays, heat-activated archwires use body heat to help teeth shift less painfully and more quickly. Metal braces are also the most affordable. Although they are more comfortable and inconspicuous than they used to be, metal braces remain the most noticeable.
Ceramic braces (remember Tom Cruise?) are also prevalent among adults, because of their cosmetic appeal. Ceramic braces are similar in shape and size to metal braces but have clear or tooth-colored brackets that blend in with the teeth. Those with tooth-colored wires are even less conspicuous. Ceramic braces reposition teeth faster than clear plastic aligners but cost more than metal braces.
If you don’t like the idea of conventional metal or ceramic braces, there’s another option: clear plastic aligners like Invisalign, a hi-tech system of teeth straightening that has revolutionized orthodontic dentistry. It’s estimated that a quarter of Invisalign patients in the U.S. are adults. Apart from greater comfort and convenience, removable Invisalign aligners provide a healthier option than traditional braces, allowing you to brush and floss as normal, which lessens the risk of cavities and gum infections like gingivitis.
Tooth enamel can wear away as we get older, and Invisalign helps to maintain the integrity of this protective layer because the system doesn’t require brackets to be placed on the teeth, as with traditional braces. Another health benefit of Invisalign is that you can maintain a nutritional diet, whereas, with braces, it can be difficult to eat certain foods.
Why So Many Adults Seek Orthodontic Treatment
Adults are increasingly seeking orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth and improve their smile and dental health.
People, in general, are living longer – and so are their teeth – so adult orthodontic treatment makes sense to maintain healthy teeth and gums in mid-age and later years. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), more and more people aged 60 to 80 are now wearing braces.
Advances in dental technology have made the process of having braces fitted far gentler and pain is no longer an issue, although you may experience some discomfort at first.
Results of orthodontics for adults can be more impressive than those among children because adults tend to do a better job in looking after their braces and following the instructions of their orthodontist.
How to Find Quality Adult Orthodontic Treatment
If you think adult orthodontic treatment makes sense to improve your life, look for a dental office that specializes in that field and uses the latest technology, equipment, and materials. This can improve your comfort levels during the process, shorten treatment time and lessen the number of appointments that are necessary.
A good orthodontist for adults will also use 3D digital imaging, which has transformed the diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic problems. Unlike messy impressions, digital imaging is a non-invasive process that gives patients a better experience and provides your orthodontist with highly-detailed information. It also reduces the length of time of exposure to radiation.