Dr. Ingridh Oks, Merimetsa Dental Clinic
Orthodontics is a specialty in the field of dentistry that focuses on the prevention and treatment of position anomalies of teeth and jaws. It allows to adjust the position of teeth, but also the balance between jawbones and lips. Orthodontics improves facial aesthetics and gives a beautiful smile.
A correct bite and aligned teeth better the functions of chewing and speech and reduce the risk of lower jaw joint problems. Aligned teeth are easier to clean; this, in turn, reduces the risk of caries, periodontitis and premature loss of teeth. Crooked teeth also are in threat of abnormal erosion and traumas of the hard and soft tissues of the teeth due to overburdening. Therefore, orthodontics helps keep the teeth healthier for a long time.
One of the widespread misconceptions is that improperly positioned teeth can only be treated on children and adolescences. Unarguably the best age for orthodontic treatment is between 11 and 13, but there are no age limitations. Lately, more and more patients over 40 also want and need orthodontic treatment. While during the 70s, less than 5% of orthodontic patients in the United States were adults, the number rose to 25% by the 90s. There is a similar trend in Estonia. The increase is caused by the development of more effective methods of treatment, the existence of aesthetic braces, and an increasing pressure for a beautiful smile.
Treatment is possible in all ages
Most adults need orthodontic treatment because it was impossible during their adolescence (e.g. due to the lack of necessary treatment methods or appliances.) The need for orthodontic treatment may arise if improperly positioned teeth prevent preforming other types of treatment. For example, it may become necessary before prosthetic treatment, e.g. to lift up sagged teeth, correct the contour of the alveolar bone, or make room for dental bridges or implants. In certain cases we can close the gaps caused by tooth extraction orthodontically. By moving the teeth, we can also improve the condition of the tissues that hold the teeth in place. By removing the places that gather plague, we can also prevent the progression of periodontitis.
Orthodontic treatment for adults is slightly different from that of the youngsters. The period of treatment is usually longer since the bone that surrounds the teeth is denser and, therefore, more resistant to manipulations. An older organism adapts to changes more slowly which means that we need to move the teeth with more caution and have longer pauses between appointments. However, if the teeth and the surrounding gums and bone tissue are in good shape, we can align teeth in any age.
Unlike in case of children, adults’ jawbones have stopped growing, thus we cannot use treatment methods that require the modification of growth. If there are anomalies in position of the jawbones, the orthodontic treatment is combined with orthogonal surgery, during which the jawbone is moved into the right position. There are also advantages, for example, adult patients are usually more motivated, more interested in their progress, follow the doctor’s directions diligently and take better care of their oral hygiene. All of the aforementioned makes the treatment more effective.
Teeth of adult patient before and after treatment
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During your first visit to the orthodontist, photos, X-rays and imprints for plaster models of your teeth are taken. Based on those, the orthodontist compiles an individual treatment plan.
In case of adults, braces are the most common appliance. The treatment is always preformed simultaneously in the upper and lower jaw to achieve a well-coordinated bite and to spread the stress of chewing evenly. The duration of the treatment depends on each individual case, but is usually around two years.
Many adults are worried that they will have a metal smile. Actually, there are also aesthetic braces that look very similar to your natural teeth or braces that can be placed on the back of the teeth. In less severe cases, removable aligners can be used.
If you have wanted to change something about your teeth for a long time, but thought it impossible due to age, then we suggest to schedule a consult to learn more about treatment options.