Adult patients make up 15 to 30 percent of most orthodontic practices. Some orthodontists are reporting as many as half of their patients are adults. It is becoming a more common option for adults who are unhappy with the present appearance of their teeth.
Most adults consider seeing an orthodontist for two reasons: (1) Their dentist told them that their teeth are malaligned, a problem which will eventually affect their oral health; and/or (2) they are unhappy with the appearance of their mouth. Large spaces between the teeth, crooked lower teeth, and a protruding over-bite or bucked teeth are a few of the most common complaints. The qualified orthodontist is trained to diagnose and correct such problems.
Q: Am I too old for braces?
A: There is no age limit for orthodontic treatment. Teeth and tissue are essentially the same in both adults and children. Orthodontists can successfully realign crooked teeth or a protruding overbite regardless of your age.
Q: How long will it take?
A: Orthodontic correction can vary from the comparatively simple closing of front spaces in a few months, to the realignment of unsightly and disfiguring teeth. Most orthodontists agree that adult treatment will usually take from 10-20% longer due to the difference in the physiologic responses of the tissues in the mouth of an adult as compared with a child. Simply put, an adult’s bone structure is more dense and firmly set, so a slightly longer response time to tooth movement can be expected.
Q: Why should I be concerned about a bad bite?
A: A bad bite can be detrimental to the future of your mouth. Restorations, crowns or bridges are often impossible for a dentist to perform without prior repositioning of the teeth by an orthodontist. Properly aligned and supported teeth are healthier, easier to clean, and therefore more likely to last throughout a patient’s lifetime.
Q: Can my appearance be improved?
A: Yes! DRAMATIC CHANGES in a person’s smile and profile can be achieved. A person can actually look years younger by straightening crooked teeth or correcting an overbite or an under-bite. A beautiful smile can increase self-confidence and in turn a sense of well-being.
Q: How do orthodontists straighten teeth?
A: Tooth movement is actually a normal response to light pressure. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic appliances, the most common being a brace or bracket attached to the teeth and connected by an archwire. Periodic changing of these archwires puts pressure on the teeth. When pressure is applied to a tooth it causes this membrane o be compressed on one side and stretched on the other side. The bone then responds to this pressure by dissolving on one side and rebuilding to fill the empty space on the other side. Step by step, teeth are moved and Mother Nature rebuilds – often stronger than before. Over-erupted or extruded teeth can actually be eased back into their supporting bone.
Q: Will it hurt?
A: Discomfort has to result when we loosen a tooth for movement. This usually lasts about 48 to 72 hours and then the teeth are comfortable again. Each succeeding adjustment will mean some minor discomfort, although our patients report a lessening of discomfort as the treatment progresses. Our office uses the newest orthodontic technology and materials, which help to virtually eliminate discomfort during orthodontic therapy. Without question, braces are far more comfortable today than they were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago.
Q: What about surgical correction?
A: SURGICAL INTERVENTION called orthognathic surgery can offer dramatic results in certain cases where jaw relationships are so severely malposed that tooth movement alone cannot accomplish desired changes. This treatment requires close cooperation between your orthodontist and the oral surgeon. If indicated this can be a viable alternative to conventional orthodontic treatment.
Q: Will improvement be permanent?
A: The combined experience of orthodontists across the country point to a 95% permanent improvement rate. Teeth, like all parts of the body, are constantly changing and adapting. You must remember teeth that have been crooked for years have marvelous memories. Minor movement or relapse must be expected, but conscientious wear of retainers following treatment can minimize these changes.
Q: How often will I need office visits?
A: Appointments can be scheduled from four-to eight week intervals, depending on the stage of treatment. In the initial stage, the appointments are more frequent. Once the appliances (braces or Invisalign) are in place, appointments are scheduled at longer intervals.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: Adult Orthodontic Fees are only slightly higher than those required for younger patients. All offices offer reasonable payment plans, conveniently spread over the estimated treatment period. Do not assume your treatment will cost the same as someone else’s. Because no two problems are the same, treatment plans and accompanying costs will vary among patients. Those factors affecting the simplicity or complexity of your problem will be explained in detail by your orthodontist.
Q: Will my insurance pay for it?
A: Today many dental policies include orthodontic benefits. For questions concerning eligibility, a pre-determination of available benefits can be requested from your insurance company representative. Some companies require submission of a diagnosis and treatment plan as well as a suggested payment schedule by your orthodontist before treatment begins. The percentage of reimbursement varies from plan to plan.