Orthodontic Services and Types of Braces for Adults
Many adults feel the opportunity to improve their smiles has passed them by. They imagine adult orthodontics as a mouthful of metal braces and a return to the dreaded teen years. However, thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, adults can discreetly straighten their teeth without most people even noticing they are doing so!
Because of several technological advances, more adults are opting for self-ligating braces or clear aligners than ever. In fact, adults make up the fastest growing segment of orthodontic patients in the United States today.
Benefits of Adult Orthodontics
If the thought of wearing “adult braces” sounds scary, consider some of the celebrities who underwent orthodontic treatment while in the public eye. After all, almost no one undergoes more scrutiny than actors and models. Celebrities who have used Invisalign® while in the public eye, include:
- Tom Cruise—wore aligners and ceramic brackets while filming Minority Report in 2002 to correct issues with his front teeth
- Eva Longoria—began treatment at the age of 36 to fix overlapping bottom teeth
- Katherine Heigl—started wearing them in 2007 to prepare for her wedding
- Gisele Bundchen—wore Invisalign to correct minor issues with her teeth
Besides a more attractive smile, adult orthodontic treatment can result in improved oral health because straight teeth are easier to brush and floss. This means there will be healthier teeth and gums, as well as a reduced risk of periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis. Adult orthodontic treatments can also help correct bite problems.
Improving your smile can boost your self-esteem and confidence, whether you’re interviewing for a job or re-entering the dating scene. Research has demonstrated that people with attractive smiles are more likely to be hired for a job and receive a promotion.
Choosing the Best Treatment Option
In the hands of the right orthodontist, both Invisalign and braces straighten teeth, close gap-teeth and fix other adult orthodontic issues. At Burke & Redford Orthodontics, our goal is to determine which treatment option is best suited for each individual patient. This decision will depend upon numerous factors but the type/extent of orthodontic issues present is the most important one.
During the first office visit and after a clinical examination, Dr. Burke and Dr. Redford will describe all of the available options and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each one. By the end of this conversation, patients will know all the details of their course of treatment, including cost, length, and care requirements.
Types of Braces for Adults
For grown-ups who want to minimize the appearance of their braces, two of the best options are self-ligating clear braces and lingual braces.
Self-ligating braces are similar to traditional braces except they don’t require elastics to secure brackets to the archwire. Instead, these braces use special clips (or doors) to help the archwire move teeth into place.
Self-ligating braces provide numerous benefits.
- The clips allow for greater and gentler freedom of tooth movement, which minimizes discomfort.
- Treatment length is shorter because teeth move into place faster. Some patients have their treatment times shortened by up to six months.
- These types of braces are easier and faster to adjust because the doors can be easily opened and closed. This means less time spent at the orthodontist—a critical factor for busy adults.
- The low friction self-ligating braces can allow for less frequent visits to the office, saving even more time.
Adult patients who want to minimize the appearance of their braces usually opt for ceramic braces (also known as self-ligating clear braces), which are made of transparent or tooth-colored ceramic. This material blends into the teeth—resulting in braces that are much less noticeable.
One self-ligating braces system is called Damon braces. The Damon version of ceramic braces is called Damon Clear. These braces are virtually invisible because there are no metal clips or elastic ties. However, Damon braces may not be the best option for every patient.
Another option for patients who want to minimize the appearance of their braces is lingual braces, which are placed on the back sides of the teeth. This positioning makes them much less conspicuous and barely visible when a patient smiles. However, lingual braces have some disadvantages.
- Treatment time is longer.
- More adjustments are required.
- Patients may develop a lisp.
- Lingual braces are more challenging to clean.
- These types of braces can irritate the tongue.
Lingual braces are more expensive than other types of braces because they are made custom for each patient. In addition, they can be more cumbersome due to their close proximity to the tongue. However, patients concerned about the cosmetic appearance of braces may find that lingual braces are worth the investment.
The Invisibility of Invisalign
Unlike braces that use wires and brackets, Invisalign uses a series of transparent, customized aligners (trays) to reposition and straighten teeth. Patients switch to a new tray every 1-to-2 weeks. Office visits are scheduled approximately every 8 weeks so the orthodontist can check on the patient’s progress and make necessary adjustments to ensure a good result.
The primary reason adults choose Invisalign over self-ligating clear braces is that the aligners are virtually undetectable. Made from transparent materials, most people don’t notice when someone is wearing an aligner.
Patients have the luxury of removing the aligners before meals, as well as during brushing and flossing. This allows them to maintain their normal oral hygiene routine. Invisalign is also a fantastic alternative for patients who need a more flexible treatment plan.
Despite its many advantages, Invisalign is not suited for everyone.
- This treatment option is best for patients who only need a mild alignment and whose teeth are in good condition.
- The trays must be worn up to 22 hours a day. If a patient is unable to do this, treatment will be ineffective.
- The trays may cause a slight speech impediment for some patients during treatment, however, it is just during the initial period.
- Treatment must be monitored by an orthodontist to ensure the teeth and surrounding structures are staying healthy, teeth are moving as predicted, and necessary adjustments and course corrections are made.
It is important to know that clear aligners are simply a tool used by an orthodontist. The results that are achieved in treatment are dependent on the skill level of the doctor and staff. Proper planning and monitoring of treatment with clear aligners is crucial to a successful result.
Keeping the Smile After Braces with Retainers
After having the braces removed, patients wear a retainer to keep teeth in place—preventing them from moving back into their old position. The doctors make customized retainers for each patient. Most adults choose transparent retainers because they are more discreet.
Although each patient’s needs vary, retainers are typically worn for 24 hours a day for the first 2 months, except during meals. After this time, patients will usually be advised to wear the retainers at night. Each patient is unique, though, and we will tailor a retainer program that is best suited for your individual needs. Fixed (permanent) retainers are typically recommended for the lower front teeth, as these are the most prone to shift over time.
If you’re ready to begin orthodontic treatment, contact us in Temecula or Lake Elsinore by calling our main office at (951) 699-8011. You can also fill out the free consultation form on our website anytime. We will set up a time that works with your schedule to discuss adult orthodontic options.