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Are Adults Qualified for Braces?

Aug 17, 2007
For optimal oral health and perfect smile, your teeth need to be perfectly aligned. When designing the ideal approach to orthodontic treatment for adults, there are several factors you and your dentist should be considered. The influencing circumstances such as jaw growth, missing teeth, and periodontal breakdown make treating an adult so different in comparison to an adolescent. Although these problems sometimes exist in youngsters, they occur frequently and are clearly more severe in adults.

The bodies of adults are no longer in the stages of development and would normally expect no more jaw growth to occur. Adults have their permanent teeth in place and their jawbone has formed accordingly to their bite. Malocclusion, which is technically termed as a bad bite, is caused either by the misalignment of teeth (dental-related problem), by the incongruity of the jawbone (bony-related problem), or by the combination of both. Of the three reasons, the bony-related malocclusion is the most difficult to manage in adult orthodontic treatment.

The irregular development of the jawbones creates an imbalance between the upper and lower jaws. Therefore, adult patients, who have longer lower jawbones (facial protrusion), may need orthognathic surgery to shorten the lengths of the lower jaws (mandibular setback procedure) and/or to increase the lengths of the upper jaws (maxillary advancement procedure). Conversely, adult patients with shorter lower jawbones (facial retrusion) may require surgical intervention to extend the lengths of their lower jaws (mandibular advancement procedure) and/or to reduce the lengths of their upper jaws (maxillary setback procedure).

Missing teeth, especially in adults, is problematic because the voids after dental extraction cause teeth to shift on their own and become misaligned. This misalignment can cause teeth to come into contact at irregular angles that causes stress on the jaw muscles, damage to the enamel, and lead to inefficient biting. This affects adult orthodontic treatment because once the teeth have been properly realigned; something must be done to prevent the teeth from drifting back into the open area. Typically, your dentist will recommend a bridge or an implant to fill the void of the missing tooth. Adolescents, however, are still developing teeth and generally would not have an issue like this.

The problem with periodontal breakdown is that it is more common to have an adult with periodontal disease, rather than an adolescent. "Periodontal" is defined as the area surrounding the tooth, which refers to the gums and bone. Having a periodontal disease, like gingivitis or periodontitis, complicates orthodontic treatment because it destroys the supporting tissues and slows downs the formation of new bone. The treatment time and the retention time therefore will be prolonged. Your dentist has to move the teeth by smaller increment at each interval and you have to wear the retainer after the active treatment for longer period.

Investing in orthodontic treatment is worthwhile in so many ways. Not only orthodontics can straighten the teeth, it also exposes the hidden areas caused by crowding or overlapping of teeth. These hidden areas are a haven for plaque and bacteria to grow. Inhibiting bacteria growth will decrease the chance of tooth decay, gum disease, and potential tooth loss. Cleaning becomes more efficient with straight teeth because every crevice will be easier to reach and no area will go unscathed. It also makes it easier for dentists to perform treatments such as bridges and crowns when teeth are properly aligned, thus increasing the probability of a successful procedure. From a psychological perspective, people who have had orthodontic treatment completed, exuberate confidence and have a high self-esteem.

Even though the cessation of body growth and the periodontal disease pose as a challenge to adult orthodontic treatment, with the modern advance of dental technology, they are manageable. The sooner treatment is started, the sooner you will get better. No matter what age group, it is never too late. Imagine all the power and the privileges you can have with a perfect smile!
About the Author
For information, visit Houston Dentist .
SoftDental (www.softdental.com) is Houston's Top Cosmetic Dentistry.
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