November 8, 2016 Roanoke Valley Orthodontics

Adult braces: Here’s what you need to know

Our favorite thing to post on social media is a picture of one our our patients showing off a brand new smile. Just scroll through our Facebook timeline or check us out on Instagram, and you will enjoy seeing all of our RVO Smiles: Photo after photo of smiling patients who have just finished their braces or Invisalign treatment. If you look closely, you will see that about 20 percent of our patients in The New Smiles Club are adults!

Children and teens continue to make up the larger segment of our practice, but industry-wide an increasing number of adults are seeking orthodontic treatment. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, the number of adult orthodontic patients has been rising steadily since the late 80s. Today, some 20 percent of orthodontic patients are over the age of 18.

Advances in orthodontic appliances and technology have given us so many treatment choices, many of which are perfect for adults. So if you’ve been considering braces but think you’re too old or that you won’t be able to fit them into your lifestyle, neither could be further from the truth. The fact is, there has never been a better time to see an orthodontist for adult treatment!

Why do adults get braces?

Some adults who come to our practice have already had braces. As we age, our teeth tend to shift unless retainers are worn regularly. In other cases, adults who have had braces seek treatment for a misalignment after an injury to the mouth or jaw or the loss of a tooth.

Many adults we evaluate have been referred to us because they are planning an extensive dental procedure following the orthodontic treatment. Pre-prosthetic orthodontic treatment is becoming more important to properly plan for future crowns, bridges, veneers or implants.  In this situation, our goal is to build a strong, healthy foundation to support the future dental work so that it will be long-lasting.

Most adult patients seek orthodontic treatment for a problem they’ve had since childhood that has never been corrected and has usually gotten worse. Whatever the reason for the delay, it is never too late to achieve a healthier bite and more beautiful smile.

What are the benefits of braces for adults?

Adults who get orthodontic treatment can improve their health in so many ways, including the prevention or relief of:

  • Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, which can cause tooth, gum and bone loss.
  • Tooth decay, which can occur when crowded teeth are more difficult to brush and floss.
  • Speech impediments caused by crooked teeth.
  • Trouble chewing, which can lead to digestive problems.
  • Irregular wear of tooth enamel.
  • Chipping or breaking teeth, when the teeth protrude.
  • Headaches related to crowding or jaw misalignment.
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD, also called TMJ).

It is also important to note that tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to heart disease and high blood sugar, so orthodontics can have a dramatic effect on your overall health.

Another benefit is a straighter, more pleasing smile, which can make a huge difference in a patient’s confidence and self-esteem. We see it every day. A straighter, better-looking smile has also been proven to have a positive impact on social relationships personally and professionally.

Am I a candidate for adult braces?

The best way to know whether adult orthodontics is right for you is to schedule a consultation. At Roanoke Valley Orthodontics, your initial consultation is complimentary and includes a thorough examination to determine a course of treatment.

During your consultation, we will:

  • Assess the overall health of the teeth, gums and bone. If an adult patient has developed periodontal disease, we’ll work with the patient’s general dentist or periodontist to get that under control before we begin orthodontic treatment. If you have significant gum recession or bone loss, orthodontics might not be the right option.
  • Check your bite for any problems and look for alignment issues, spacing or crowding.
  • Consider your dental history and take a look at any previous work that’s been done.  
  • Discuss a detailed plan that outlines your treatment, goals and estimated fees.

On average, adults complete treatment in about two years. Your own timeline will depend on your particular orthodontic needs, your dental history and the treatment options you choose. We’ll review an estimated timeline during your consultation.

What are the types of adult braces?

Adults sometimes avoid orthodontics because they think they’ll be embarrassed by the treatment or that it will get in their way. However, technology has made braces much smaller and more comfortable, and most adults can qualify for Invisalign treatment.

Metal braces. These are what most people picture when they think of braces, but the braces we use have a very low profile. They are made of high-grade stainless steel and are smaller, more attractive and more comfortable than older-style metal braces. In addition, we rarely use bands that wrap around the entire tooth.

Ceramic braces. We use the highest quality porcelain 3M Clarity Advanced clear braces. They feature a comfortable design and are translucent. They won’t stain or become discolored, and they perform as well as metal braces.  

Invisalign. The Invisalign system is a series of clear plastic templates called aligners that are generated by computer simulation to gradually move the teeth. Our office uses the iTero Element digital scanner, which eliminates the need for messy impressions. After the scan is taken, the doctors prescribe the desired tooth movement, and the aligners are fabricated and shipped to the office.

How much will adult braces cost?

Your initial consultation is free of charge. We will determine the severity of your dental crowding and your bite. The cost of treatment will vary depending on your orthodontic needs, and we’ll discuss this with you in detail at your consultation. We’ll explain how your insurance will work and will file it for you. We will also review our payment options, including zero-interest financing. Our family care program provides discounts when multiple family members are in treatment, and we accept CareCredit.

A comprehensive treatment plan that considers your health and history can produce life-changing results. Contact us now to request your complimentary consultation at any of our three locations. Please call 540-563-1640 or use our appointment request form. For more information about starting treatment, visit the New Patients section of our website.

— The Roanoke Valley Orthodontics team