Back in 2012, a study found that 36% of U.S. adults felt that their teeth affected their social life. 77% of the study’s female participants even said that crooked teeth are worse than going bald!
But bad teeth, be it a bite problem or teeth crookedness, is more than a cosmetic issue. According to researchers, dental disorders can cause psychosocial problems too, especially in teens.
It’s no wonder Americans are spending more on dental services — a whopping $129.1 billion in 2017! And a huge chunk of that went towards orthodontic treatment for both children and adults.
Confused because you thought braces were only for kids? Not anymore! We’ll give you all the details on the best time to wear orthodontic appliances, so be sure to keep reading!
The Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment (According to Experts)
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) says that kids should see an orthodontist before they turn eight. Note though that this is only the recommended age for a first orthodontist check-up.
This early evaluation gives the doctor more than enough time to detect jaw and bite issues. In case the orthodontist does, then phase 1 treatment can begin by the age of 8 or 9.
Early treatment in kids is often more successful since their bones are still growing. Their jaw and facial bones are more malleable and easier to change the shape of. As such, orthodontic appliances can often straighten teeth faster in children.
You’re Now in Your 30s – Can You Still Get Braces?
Let’s say you missed the chance to have your teeth straightened while you were a kid. Does being 30 or older mean braces can no longer give you that amazing smile?
That tells you that it’s not too late to have a more beautiful smile with straighter teeth. Although the recommendation for early orthodontic consultation still holds, that’s for the children. For your kids, it’s still best to set them up for an appointment with an orthodontist ASAP.
Also, adult braces are no longer limited to the traditional train-track kind. You now have the option to wear almost-invisible teeth straighteners.
Problems that Orthodontic Appliances Can Treat
But first, what teeth and bite problems can orthodontic treatment correct? This depends on the specific treatment, but in general, they can correct the following:
Crooked or Gap Teeth
Teeth crookedness is when one or more of your teeth don’t align with the rest. This can be an incisor that juts out or a lower front tooth that grows behind the others.
Gap teeth occur when a jaw is too big, so the teeth grow with noticeable spaces between. The space that a lost tooth creates also allows the other teeth to shift or move around. This shifting then creates that space or “gap” between them.
Sometimes, a tooth can grow out sideways, and it becomes twisted when fully developed. This can happen if the jaw is too small, so the lack of space forces the tooth to twist around.
Malocclusion is when the upper and lower teeth don’t align properly. An overbite, for example, is when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth. Whereas an overbite means that the lower teeth go over the upper teeth.
Most cases of malocclusion are hereditary, which means you can pass it down to your kids. Or, you inherited your overbite, underbite, or crossbite from your folks. But abnormal or mismatching jaw sizes can also cause malocclusion.
Setting Your Expectations
For adults considering orthodontic treatment, it’s best to expect a longer treatment time. After all, your bones are no longer as flexible and have already stopped growing. On average though, treatment runs from one to three years, depending on the appliance used.
Also, since adult bones have stopped developing, you may need surgery to get the best results. Although rare, some adults may also have to undergo tooth extraction.
Your doctor may also recommend seeing a periodontist first if there are signs of gum disease. Especially periodontitis, which now affects four in 10 U.S. adults aged 30 and older. A periodontist will confirm that you have enough healthy bone to support braces.
Your Treatment Options Beyond Traditional Braces
Once you’ve confirmed your teeth, gums, and bones are healthy enough, next is to choose the type of braces to get. In most cases, you’ll have to choose between traditional braces and Invisalign.
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional braces (the train-track braces) are those that consist of metal parts. With this, the orthodontist glues a metal bracket on each tooth. An arch wire goes through the center of these brackets, joining them together to move the teeth.
Rubber rings (sometimes thin wires), called ties, secure the arch wire onto the brackets. The orthodontist may also use ligatures for this, which are elastic bands. These ensure that the braces apply enough pressure to gradually move your teeth.
The Invisalign System
Invisalign is a modern teeth straightener designed for both kids and adults. One of its biggest advantages lies in its patented material called SmartTrack®. It’s a thermoplastic material that makes the Invisalign aligners almost invisible.
Also, this system uses clear plastic trays that are easy to remove. You do need to keep your aligners on for 22 hours, and only remove it during meal times, brushing, and flossing.
Each Invisalign aligner is custom-made based on your current teeth’s position. After a week or two, you’ll swap your old trays with a new set.
Note that Invisalign isn’t the teeth-straightening solution for everyone. That’s why the orthodontist needs to give you a comprehensive assessment first. This’ll help the doctor figure out which type of orthodontic treatment is best for your case.
Other Dental Braces
Not all dental braces are of metal components, as there are now clear braces too. Other transparent aligners aside from the Invisalign System are also available. The doctor will explain all your viable options so that you know which one best suits your needs.
Orthodontics for the Young and the Young at Heart
Much thanks to new orthodontic treatment options, even adults can enjoy straighter teeth. So, don’t think that it’s too late to have your teeth straightened out. But the sooner you do, the better, as straighter teeth also means better oral hygiene.
Ready to learn more about adult braces or have your kids go for their first orthodontic checkup? If so, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We’ll be happy to address any concerns you have about teeth straightening.