Posted on October 19, 2018
Prospective patients often hesitate to get orthodontic work because they’re afraid they’re “too old” for braces. Due to the way braces are portrayed in popular media, there’s a misperception that orthodontics are reserved exclusively for children and teenagers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Everyone deserves to smile with confidence, no matter what age. More importantly, people need a healthy bite and strong teeth to eat, speak, and function regularly.
Throughout the years, orthodontists have developed advanced ways to align teeth, even for adults who already have fully developed teeth. At Orthodontics LA, we want all our patients to be aware of their options and comfortable with their treatment, so here is everything you need to know about adult orthodontics!
Again, your aptitude for braces does not depend on your age. It’s based on the condition of your teeth and their development. Braces can be beneficial at almost any age if the patient has a full set of healthy adult teeth. Though braces are commonly depicted as a treatment for kids, there’s a large percentage of orthodontic patients who are adults as well.
Young Adults (18 – 35)
Since teeth fully develop between the age of 17 – 25, patients often wait to get braces until then to receive orthodontic treatment. The benefit of waiting until this age is that the wisdom teeth will be fully grown out and hopefully removed by that time and most of the skeletal structure is mature. This allows the orthodontist to correct your teeth without having wisdom teeth pushing them out of alignment again. Although the teeth are mostly mature, it’s still early enough to realign them fairly easily.
Middle Aged Adults (36 – 55)
Like young adults, patients in this age range also have the advantage of getting their orthodontic treatment after their wisdom teeth have been removed. On the other hand, the bones are harder and no longer growing, so it can be more difficult to realign them and braces may take longer than usual for the desired results. Teeth are also more likely to be worn down after years of use, potentially making it dangerous told to perform orthodontic procedures. Luckily, there are many types of orthodontic treatment (Invisalign, Damon braces) that can be customized to treat these cases.
Older Adults (56+)
Contrary to popular belief, older adults commonly seek out orthodontic treatment as well. As we age, our teeth may move out of alignment due to dental decay, teeth grinding, or simply natural wear. Severe misalignment could result in more serious problems, such as eroded teeth, malocclusions, temporomandibular joint disorder, etc. For these patients, orthodontic treatment can slow down the damage and prevent pain caused by an improper bite.
The only circumstance that would warrant concern is if you’ve had a history of periodontal disease or other bone loss. Severe gum disease can result in the deterioration of the surrounding bones teeth. Without strong bones and gums, your teeth may not be able to handle the strong pushing and pulling involved with realigning teeth, so orthodontists typically will not risk damaging extremely fragile bones and teeth with braces right away. Instead, your orthodontist may recommend seeing a periodontist to stabilize your gum and bone health before you can undergo any orthodontic treatment.
It’s important to recognize, however, that most periodontal diseases will not affect your ability to get braces. In fact, 50% of the population is diagnosed with gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Most patients can still be great candidates for orthodontic treatment regardless of their dental history, so consult your dentist before you discount the possibility of braces.
The cost of braces usually depends on a number of factors such as location (cost of living), treatment type, insurance, and quality, to an extent. Treatment for adults can be a little more expensive than for younger patients because it may require special care or extra time.
Here are popular orthodontic treatments for adults and their average costs in the Encino:
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional braces consist of metal brackets cemented on the teeth that are held together by a metal band that can be tightened to place pressure on the teeth and align them. These usually take between 6 months and 2 years. For people with severe overbites, underbites, crossbites, gaps, and overlapping teeth, traditional braces may be the best option. The stainless steel braces are stronger than most other options and they’re extremely versatile, so they can fix most orthodontic problems. Traditional braces range from $3,000 to $7,000 without insurance.
This popular clear aligner system is usually a bit pricier than traditional metal braces because of its comfort and appearance. Invisalign is a clear aligner system that patients wear a certain amount of time every day to correct their smile. The trays are made of transparent plastic, so they’re virtually invisible in the mouth. Patients often prefer Invisalign over traditional braces because it makes social and professional situations easier to navigate. There’s no need to explain your orthodontic treatment or feel embarrassed about clunky braces.
Invisalign can cause a minor lisp, but this is very rare and it will most likely go away after the first few weeks of use. This is caused by a change in the spacing in the mouth from the clear aligners that go over the teeth. For patients who heavily rely on their speech and communication skills for work, the trays are also completely removable, so they can conveniently be taken out for critical meetings, events, or presentations. As long as the trays are in the mouth for 20 – 22 hours a day, they will be effective. We recommend removing them for dental hygiene, eating, and playing contact sports.
Patients who don’t want to deal with the hassle of removing and cleaning Invisalign can also get ceramic braces for a less noticeable orthodontic treatment. Ceramic braces work exactly like traditional braces, but the brackets are made of tooth-colored ceramic or clear material. They’re usually around $400 – $600 more expensive than traditional braces, but they’re just as effective and barely visible.
Lingual braces are yet another option for patients who want inconspicuous orthodontic treatment. These work like traditional braces, but instead of going on the front of the teeth, the brackets are affixed to the back of the teeth. Like Invisalign, they’re invisible at first glance, but like traditional braces, they still use metal brackets and wires. Orthodontists recommend lingual braces to patients with mild to medium teeth misalignment and malocclusions. Considering how challenging it is to place braces behind the teeth, lingual braces are usually more expensive, ranging from $6,000 – $10,000.
Because the brackets are hidden, it can be difficult even for the owner to see and clean their teeth properly. Patients with lingual braces should take extra time to clean their teeth and make sure there’s no food debris stuck in the brackets or wires. Lingual braces may also be uncomfortable for some braces because the metal brackets can push into the tongue or mouth, causing pain.
One of the most efficient ways to align teeth is with Damon braces. They are a type of self-ligating braces that adjust themselves, so fewer visits to the orthodontist are required. For traditional braces and Invisalign, the orthodontic treatment needs to be manually adjusted for the teeth as the straighten out, but with Damon braces, the bands tighten on their own. This is possible because the ties are replaced by ligatures which allow memory wires to slowly slide into place and adjust the brackets. They usually cost $3,000 – $8,000.
Some patients who get braces later in life already know what it’s like because they have already experienced the process from their youth. For those who have no idea what it’s like, it can be nerve-wracking and even scary. Not to worry, this is completely normal and the best way to cope with it is by understanding exactly what the system entails, so there are no surprises. Here’s what patients can expect before, during, and after they receive orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontists usually ask patients to come in for an early orthodontic screening weeks before even getting braces on. At this appointment, x-rays and photos will be taken of the teeth. The orthodontist will then perform an oral examination to determine whether the patients is a viable candidate for braces. Afterward, the patient and orthodontist will sit down for a discussion about treatment options. If necessary, the orthodontist may recommend prerequisite operations or treatment. This could be a recommendation to visit the periodontist, endodontist, or general dentist for teeth extractions or gum disease treatment.
The next scheduled appointment will be to place the actual braces. Here’s what to expect:
The process is painless, but patients usually feel sore afterward because of the pressure being exerted on their teeth. The orthodontist will give instructions about what to eat and how to clean the braces. Most orthodontic offices will give their patients a braces starter pack that includes a brush pick, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and orthodontic wax. Most likely, they will schedule another appointment in the next 2 – 4 weeks to tighten the braces.
Caring for braces is just as much of the patient’s responsibility as it is the orthodontist’s. No matter what age they are, patients need to take certain precautions to ensure their brackets aren’t broken and teeth aren’t stained throughout the process. Now, it’s not the end of the world if a wire pops out accidentally, but it is a hassle to fix and it will make the process longer.
For anyone who’s apprehensive about wearing their new braces, don’t be! Tons of adults get braces and there’s nothing to be ashamed about.
No matter what type of orthodontic treatment patients undergo, they will need to use retainers afterward. As people grow, their teeth and bones can move and the retainers are used to keep the bite aligned. There are three different types of retainers that the orthodontist can order: fixed-bonded, clear plastic, and Hawley.
When the orthodontic treatment is finished, many adult patients also seek cosmetic procedures to touch up their newly straightened teeth. Veneers and dental bonding can give patients the shiny, even finish on top of their regular teeth that they desire. Orthodontists usually don’t perform these operations, but regular dentists and cosmetic dentists can.
Orthodontics LA is an orthodontic practice with locations in Encino and Glendale. Our orthodontists, Dr. Artin and Dr. Melineh, are experienced at working with older patients to correct their smile. They understand that not everyone has the opportunity to receive orthodontic treatment early in their lives and they love helping patients of all ages achieve the smiles of their dreams. If you have any questions or concerns, Orthodontics LA is here to help, so feel free to contact us!