It may come as a surprise to you that adults make up close to 35% of my patient pool (that’s one out of every three patients!) so I thought I would devote this month’s blog to adult treatment.
“I am too old for orthodontic treatment” is a statement I hear at least once a week. Truth is, your body and teeth are going to react to tooth movement in the same way whether you are 20 or 80. There are certainly some additional challenges when treating adults due to the fact they may have more dental restorations, missing teeth, or periodontal issues, but with the advancement in technology with both fixed and removable braces, treating adults has become MUCH easier (and less invasive) than it ever used to be.
Since 2010, the number of adults seeking orthodontic care has been on the rise each year. This can be attributed to increased awareness of direct marketing campaigns including Invisalign or Smile Direct Club, and increased awareness on the part of the dentist and hygienist of the importance of straight teeth and a proper bite. In addition, having a nice smile is something that can build self-esteem and research has been shown that a person’s smile is one of the first things we notice when we first look at them.
About half of my adult patients seeking treatment come because they are looking for an improvement in their smile/appearance. We have seen the most dramatic increase in new patient visits from 45-70-year-olds. These are folks who have noticed that their probing depths (the “two, three, two, four,” etc. numbers you hear the hygienist call out at your visits when they are measuring the pocket depth in between the teeth and gums) are increasing due to the beginning bone loss around teeth that are crowded. Typically, this is seen most in the lower front teeth, and having treatment can be very beneficial for providing ease of cleaning, centering the teeth properly in the bone, reducing the risk of further bone loss/periodontal issues, and helping to promote the longevity of those teeth.
In our practice, adult treatments range from simple single tooth alignments, to complex full orthodontic treatments where we take a multi-disciplinary approach with your dentist and other dental specialists. Simple cases are most effectively treated with removable appliances such Invisalign, and more complex cases are usually treated with conventional braces. The good news is conventional braces are not what they used to be. We no longer use spacers, bands that go around each tooth, headgears, etc., and we even have ceramic (invisible) braces. We also now use Invisalign retainers that are just worn at night when treatment is complete. We even have some adults who wear silver braces and get colors to be just like the kids!
If you have ever considered orthodontic treatment as an adult, there has never been a better time to have an evaluation and see what options are possible. Some insurance companies are even offering benefits for adult treatment. Also keep in mind that you can use Health Savings Accounts and/or Medical Savings accounts through your employer (pre-tax dollars) to pay for your treatment.
Unlike most medical procedures, you do NOT need a referral from your dentist to have an orthodontic screening/evaluation, and at Commonwealth Orthodontics all of our initial consultations are complimentary, so there is no cost to you or your insurance.