Braces for Adults
Orthodontic braces were historically associated with teenagers. Today, an increasing number of adults are choosing to wear braces to straighten their teeth and improve their bite. In fact, it is now estimated that almost one third of all current orthodontic patients are adults.
Orthodontic treatments are predictable, versatile, and incredibly successful at realigning the teeth. Braces work in the same way regardless of the age of the patient, the main difference being jaw bones that are still growing in younger patients but not in adults. Occasionally, jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) may be needed to correct your bite. Other differences between adult and children orthodontics include:
Gum or bone loss (periodontal disease) — Adults are more likely than children to experience gum recession or even bone loss due to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease. Patients with straighter teeth are less likely to get gum disease.
Worn or missing teeth — Over time, teeth can become worn down and shift into different positions that can only be corrected with orthodontic care. Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift and tilt, creating a bad bite and increasing the possibility of gum disease.
Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen — Many adults received some orthodontic treatment as a child or teen, but never completed their treatment. As an adult, they choose to complete their orthodontic treatment to achieve the healthy, beautiful smile they always wanted.
Can adults benefit from orthodontic braces?
Absolutely! Crooked or misaligned teeth look unsightly, which may cause a lack of self confidence. Aside from poor aesthetics, improperly aligned teeth can also cause difficulties biting, chewing, and articulating clearly. Generally speaking, orthodontists agree that straight teeth tend to be healthier teeth.
Straight teeth offer a multitude of health and dental benefits including:
Reduction in general tooth decay
Decreased likelihood of developing periodontal disease
Decreased likelihood of tooth injury
Fortunately, orthodontic treatments have been adapted and modified to make them more convenient for adults.
Prior to recommending specific orthodontic treatment, Dr. Liu will recommend treatment of any pre-existing dental conditions such as gum disease, excess plaque, and tooth decay, as orthodontic treatment can greatly exacerbate any or all of these conditions.
Treatment options for adults
For many adults, the thought of having metal braces is enough to discourage them from seeking treatment. However, today’s orthodontic treatment options offer a variety of braces and appliances that are comfortable, aesthetic, and customized to meet your needs. Types of treatment we offer include:
Clear/ ceramic braces
Traditional metal braces
Jaw surgery may be needed in severe cases to treat adults with jaws that do not line up correctly and cannot bite properly; we can tell you if it is needed as part of your treatment. Typically, patients need to have finished growing for surgery to be done; jaw growth usually stops by age 16 in females and 18 in males. If you need surgical treatment, Dr. Liu will work with an oral surgeon to ensure you receive the best care possible.
How does orthognathic surgery work?
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon will perform your jaw surgery in a hospital. Orthognathic surgery can take several hours depending on each individual case. Once the surgery is complete, you will have about a two-week rest period. Since orthognathic surgery is a major treatment, we recommend that you schedule some time away from work and school during the healing process.
After your jaw has healed, your orthodontist will once again “fine-tune” your bite. After surgery, you will have to wear braces, and most braces are removed within six to 12 months following surgery. After your braces are removed, you will wear a retainer to help maintain your new smile.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH ORTHOGNATHIC SURGERY?
As with any major medical surgery, there may be certain risks of having orthognathic surgery. However, the procedure is not new, and it has been performed for many years in practices and hospitals. If you’re concerned about an upcoming treatment with orthognathic surgery, please contact our practice and let us know. We are happy to answer any questions you may have, and provide you with any additional information. Your comfort is important to us.
WHAT ARE THE REWARDS OF HAVING ORTHOGNATHIC SURGERY?
For many patients, the most important reward of having orthognathic surgery is achieving a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime. Whether you need orthodontic treatment to correct a bad bite, malocclusion, or jaw abnormality, orthognathic surgery can help restore your confidence and leave you smiling with confidence for many years to come.
We recognize that adults and children have different needs, and require different levels of attention and care. We will work with you to ensure you receive the most appropriate treatments, and your needs are met with understanding and respect from us.
To learn more about the benefits of adult orthodontics, please contact our practice to schedule an appointment. We understand you have a busy schedule, and we will work with you to make sure each office visit is as convenient as possible.