Orthodontics seems like it is just for the young. It is not uncommon to see teens and young adults with braces. However, older adults are also looking into the advantages of having their teeth straightened. The truth is, there are no age limits for straightening teeth. Many patients over the age of 18 are getting fitted with dental braces on a regular basis. In recent years, there has been a trend for adults over the age of 50 to get braces.
Why Older Adults Are Choosing to Get Braces
Obviously, most people choose to get braces to improve their appearance. However, there are other reasons older adults may elect to have braces as well. In the past few years, orthodontists have seen steep increases in the number of adults who come to the office for braces. Even people over the age of 70 are seeking to correct long-standing dental problems with braces.
Some older adults will opt for braces when the procedure will help them prepare for a restorative procedure to replace a missing tooth. Sometimes braces can move teeth in a better position to accept dental bridge work. Other patients want to have their bite adjusted, which can be accomplished with braces. After five or more decades of chewing, teeth can move out of alignment when some are missing. Some do so just through wear and tear.
Old dental work, or dental work that was not appropriate to begin with, is another reason some older people choose to get braces. When getting braces can correct a problem and improve your appearance, no matter what age you are, it becomes a possibility. There are many people who avoid smiling because they do not like the way their teeth look. If wearing braces for a while can improve your smile, why not take the plunge? Even if you are over 50.
Improving Your Smile Can Improve Your Prospects
Like it or not, we are a society obsessed with appearance. A nice smile can do a lot for a person no matter your age. People care about aesthetics. Your smile can be the tipping point in getting a job or a date and when you get older, it may seem even more important. A complete beautiful smile can indicate a lot of things, such as health and stability. If you can afford to have a nice smile, good things can happen for you.
Correcting Past Mistakes
As children, some older adults who needed braces were not able to get them. Now that they have the means to have their teeth straightened, they are taking the opportunity to do so. There are also older adults who did have braces as children. For some of these patients, their teeth may have moved out of place again over the years, or perhaps they were not able to complete their orthodontic care as youngsters. Getting braces when you are younger does not preclude your teeth from moving out of place later in life.
There may have been a stigma around braces in the past, but it is gone now. Advances in orthodontic technology have made it easier than ever to install and manage braces. The advent of clear braces such as Invisalign® has made it possible for people to have their teeth straightened discreetly. Also, social media has helped spread the word, adding fuel to the trend for older adults to get braces. Hundreds of photos are posted on social media showing off seniors with braces.
Even though more adults are getting braces, it is not always a simple matter of making the choice and starting the process. For some older adults there are other issues that must be corrected before braces can be installed.
One of the major oral diseases that older adults must fight is gum disease. This condition affects a large segment of the adult population. In fact, gum disease is the major reason for tooth loss in older adults. Treating gum disease is a priority for patients seeking orthodontic work.
In addition to gum disease, bone loss is another obstacle. Not surprisingly, the younger a patient is, the denser and healthier their bone is under normal circumstances. As you age, your bone can become thinner and weaker. This is a problem because the teeth need to move through bone and anchor in bone once they have reached the desired position.
If the teeth are in shallow holes to begin with, the prognosis for moving them is not good. On the other hand, many older women take drugs to fight osteoporosis. This can also affect the movement of the teeth through the bone.
Previous dental work can also play a role in whether or not braces will work. When a person is young and gets braces put on the teeth, in some cases, there is not much dental work that needs to be taken into consideration when moving the teeth. Older adults have decades of dental work that needs to be addressed. It is not just a matter of fillings. There may also be crowns, bridgework or other dental appliances that need to be considered.
Another obstacle that can interfere with older adults getting braces is the fact that the teeth do not move as fast as they do with younger patients. Still, if the obstacles can be surmounted, there are good reasons why an older adult may opt for braces.
When It Hurts to Bite
A misaligned bite may not look bad, but it can feel terrible. Some older adults have a beautiful smile, but they may have a bad bite, and the fact that their teeth do not fit together can be painful. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems are often cited as a reason to correct a misaligned bite. A lopsided bite pushes the lower jaw back, adding strain to the TMJ. This can cause jaw pain and headaches. In the worst-case scenarios, pain will also radiate out into the neck, shoulders and upper back. Some patients have lived with this discomfort for decades. When the bite is corrected, the pain disappears.
Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease
Links between oral health and serious health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease have been established. Inflammation in the oral cavity, especially that occurring in gum tissue, can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
When the teeth are crooked or crowded, they create spaces which are more difficult to clean. Dental plaque builds up in these areas and causes tartar to form. This leads to gum disease and inflammation throughout the mouth and can affect the entire body. Correcting the source of the problem, straightening crooked or crowded teeth, benefits oral and general health.
You Have Options
In the past, metal braces were the only choice. Today’s orthodontics offers many choices which are lighter, less expensive, lower maintenance and more discreet than ever before. Standard stainless-steel braces are still available and they are still used, especially in severe cases.
Ceramic braces are similar to the traditional metal braces, but they are translucent, so they are not as noticeable. These are used on upper teeth.
Lingual braces are mounted on the insides of your teeth next to your tongue. No one will be able to tell you are wearing braces.
Clear aligners are very popular. For adults who wish to have their teeth aligned without brackets and wires, this is the clear choice. Two popular brands are Invisalign® and ClearCorrect®; however, there are other brands as well.
If you are an older adult and considering braces, contact Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta. We look forward to helping you get the beautiful smile you dream of having. Call today to schedule your consultation appointment. You are never too old for braces.