Orthodontic Benefits for Adults
Orthodontic patients have traditionally been teenagers and children. However, during the past two decades, the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment has steadily increased. Many orthodontists now have adults comprising 25% or more of their patient base.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), 1,690,000 adults received orthodontic treatment in 2016. Since then, this number has risen—with adults being the fastest growing segment of orthodontic patients. Orthodontists are even treating patients in their 60s, 70s, and 80s!
Burke & Redford Orthodontists is one of the top orthodontic practices treating a growing numbers of adult patients. Riverside County residents can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they can seek treatment from two of the best orthodontists in Temecula and Lake Elsinore—Dr. Ryan Redford and Dr. Michael Burke.
But what is driving increasing numbers of adults to seek orthodontic treatment? Advances in technology like Invisalign are one reason. However, other factors come into play as well. This article discusses orthodontic benefits for adults and how orthodontic treatment for adults differs from treatments for teenagers.
Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment For Adults
Regardless of age, orthodontic treatments create a better bite, improve teeth alignment, and reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Teeth and jaws that are properly aligned will be easier to maintain and keep clean. Plus, improving a “bad bite” (malocclusion) reduces the forces placed on teeth—increasing the odds that patients will keep their teeth longer.
Even adults who had braces earlier in life might need orthodontic treatment. Over time, the position of teeth shift. These changes may result in overcrowding, crooked teeth, or bite problems that didn’t previously exist. These shifts can be attributed to aging, additional jaw growth after previous treatment, the late eruption of wisdom teeth, or not wearing a retainer long enough.
Whether a patient is addressing a long-neglected problem for the first time or following up on treatment received in their youth, adults also receive intangible benefits from orthodontic treatment—in addition to the health benefits mentioned earlier.
According to an AAO study, adults who had orthodontic treatment reported that their treatment “contributed to significant improvements in both their professional and personal lives.” In fact, 92% of survey respondents said they would recommend orthodontic treatment to other adults.
Various research has long demonstrated that people with attractive smiles are more likely to get hired for a job, receive a promotion, or fare better on the dating scene. However, a 2011 study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics found that the appearance of a person’s bite can also affect how their attractiveness, personality, and intelligence are rated by other adults.
The study concluded that people with malocclusions are “at a social disadvantage and professionally handicapped.” According to the study, people with underbites were rated as the least attractive, intelligent, and extroverted.
Orthodontic Costs for Adults
The term “orthodontic costs for adults” has two meanings—the cost of not seeking treatment and the actual financial cost.
The costs of not seeking treatment can be significant and sometimes painful. Gum disease, which is present in some form for about 50% of American adults, can be severe and painful in its advanced stages. Yet many adults aren’t aware of its slow progression because it takes place below the gum line and might not be painful at first. However, properly aligned teeth help prevent gum disease, which is also linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Untreated bite problems worsen over time—leading to significant jaw pain as well as problems with chewing and swallowing. Many adults also experience temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which cause pain in the face and jaw. Although causes for TMJ disorders vary, orthodontists can treat TMJ pain caused by bruxism (chronic tooth grinding) with custom nightguards.
As for the literal cost of orthodontic treatment for adults, there has never been a better time to act. A survey entitled “The Economics of Orthodontics” found that 56% of all new orthodontic patients had dental insurance that included orthodontic benefits. When these benefits are combined with flexible spending accounts (FSAs), the costs become even more affordable.
Even better, Burke & Redford Orthodontists offer flexible zero percent interest payment plans that work well with almost anyone’s finances.
Differences in Orthodontic Treatment for Adults
The good news is that most orthodontic problems can be treated in adults. However, treatment may take slightly longer, and adult mouths present challenges that aren’t found in teens. Here are some of the ways that orthodontic treatment for adults differs from treatments for children and teens.
- Age-Related Issues. Adult mouths have stopped growing, so some changes—particularly those involving structural changes to the bone—may require surgical intervention (in the extreme case). Also, adults may experience mild gingivitis, marginal bone loss, inadequate blood supply, and aging tissue—all of which may make it more challenging to realign teeth.
- Bite Correction Issues. When correcting malocclusions in adults, orthodontists sometimes encounter issues they don’t see in younger mouths. For example, extreme cases may present with inadequate room to safely fit teeth in the arch without some extractions. Another problem is that chronic habits (such as teeth grinding) may be harder to stop.
- Past History. Many adults have a long dental history, which might include extractions, crowns, tooth decay, and gum disease. Long-standing, lifelong habits (such as smoking, teeth grinding, and tongue thrusting) may also cause additional challenges for orthodontists. The good news is that most of these issues can be addressed—it may just require a bit more effort.
Because of these issues, orthodontic work for adults is often coordinated with a patient’s dentist, periodontist, and other dental specialists. However, the challenges are worth it when you see adult orthodontics before and after photos. The results in adults are often more dramatic than in teens!
Despite the issues faced by adult patients, advances in orthodontic technology mean that faster and more comfortable treatment options are available. In fact, today’s orthodontic patients have more choices than ever before.
Orthodontic Treatment Options for Adults
With so many adults seeking orthodontic treatment, the “stigma” of metal braces isn’t as high as it used to be. However, adults can still opt for more discreet options if the idea of metal braces seems too conspicuous. Options include:
- Invisalign, which is preferred by many adults because the clear aligners are discreet and barely noticeable. Many Hollywood stars have been treated with Invisalign while in the public eye.
- Ceramic braces, which use brackets that are clear or tooth-colored, are another option. Combined with white wires, ceramic braces (such a Damon Clear) are virtually invisible. Some people choose to use ceramic brackets on the top teeth and metal brackets on the bottom.
- Lingual braces, which are applied to the back of the teeth, aren’t visible when a patient smiles—providing yet another inconspicuous treatment option for adults.
No matter which treatment option a patient chooses, the orthodontic benefits for adults are always straighter teeth, healthier gums, a better bite, and a more attractive smile.
If you’d like to discuss your options for adult orthodontics options, contact Burke & Redford Orthodontists by calling our main office at (951) 699-8011 or filling out the contact form on our website. After all, it is never too late to get a beautiful smile!