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Orthodontics as an Adult: The Pros and Cons
For many years, orthodontics mostly involved the treatment of preteens and teenagers. It became almost a rite of passage for teenagers to get braces. This helped to normalize braces among youngsters, so much so that options for personalizing braces with choices in metal and colorful straps became popular.
Adults are now experiencing a similar normalization of orthodontic treatment. In fact, Colgate reports that up to half of the patients that orthodontists treat are adults. Even so, orthodontic treatment may not be right for everyone. Is it right for you? Here are some of the pros and cons to consider before making a decision.
The primary benefit of correcting any flaws in a smile is improved self-confidence. For those who choose metal braces, this is a benefit that may be realized after treatment. Patients who choose Invisalign or lingual braces, which are more discreet, may be able to enjoy this benefit within just a few months of beginning treatment.
For patients who suffer from overcrowding or any other flaws in their bite that may make oral hygiene difficult, straightening teeth protects them. When it is easier to brush and floss, removing plaque, tartar and the remains of food also becomes easier. This reduces the likelihood of tooth decay and periodontal disease, which may otherwise result in premature tooth loss.
Some misalignment and bite flaws may result in speech impediments, such as overbites, large spaces between the front teeth or missing teeth. Correcting these can help to improve a person’s quality of life by making it easier for them to communicate clearly. Additionally, when a person has a better bite, it is easier to chew, which aids in digestion.
Finally, there are advantages related specifically to waiting until adulthood to seek treatment. Adults are often in a better position to ensure effective treatment because they tend to practice better oral hygiene than children. Adults may also be more meticulous about following the rules, such as the fact that Invisalign must be worn for at least 20 to 22 hours per day to achieve the desired results.
Despite the advances in the field, there are still some cases that are too severe to be treated discreetly. This may make a mouth of metal mandatory, which may be a major drawback for many adults. While ceramic braces are not invisible options, they are more discreet than metal braces and may be an effective alternative.
Another complication worth considering is the fact that adult bones have stopped growing, which includes bones in the jaw. This can cause adults to wear braces for a longer time compared to children or may make surgery necessary. In fact, even when referred to a periodontist for surgery, treatment can be a lengthy process due to long healing times between different stages of the surgery.
The bottom line
More adults are turning to orthodontics than ever before. This helps to normalize orthodontic treatments for patients who may feel embarrassed by wearing braces beyond their teenage years. The fact that more adults are getting braces may have also been one of the driving forces behind the discreet treatment methods now available to patients of all ages.
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