AN OPEN TALK ON ADULT BRACES
Straightening myths and misconceptions
MYTH #1: Wearing braces now that you are an adult is embarrassing.
Fortunately, we live in an age when true progressive thinkers are well-regarded and people are sincerely, genuinely encouraged to improve themselves. Wearing braces during adulthood is as much a celebration of conscious self-improvement as it is a testament to one’s freedom to make choices and challenge conventions.
The archaic concept of adult braces as “awkward and uncool” is no longer accepted in our time, as evidenced by the millions of Americans over the age of 18 who have chosen to improve their smiles and boost their confidence by now sporting the braces of their choice.
MYTH #2: If you wore braces when you were young, then you do not have to wear braces once you’re an adult.
This bit of news may disappoint many adults who swore off the unsettling “brace years” of their youth. Alas, the sad reality is that our teeth undergo a continuous natural process of realignment throughout our lifetime.
According to the American Association of Orthodontists, teeth may gradually shift back toward their original place or even move into new positions over the years. This happens because of the jaw’s natural growth, injury from an accident, or a condition called tongue trust – a habit of placing the tongue in the wrong position during swallowing which contributes to bad bites.
MYTH #3: Putting on braces hurts a lot.
Thanks to the many dental innovations in the past years, dentists and orthodontists today are more attuned to the needs and concerns of their adult patients. Putting on braces for the first time may be a tad uncomfortable for some but there is actually very little to no pain associated with the process.
Note though that adult teeth take longer to shift and realign compared with children’s teeth. Adults who plan to wear braces should be prepared to adhere to an orthodontist’s longer treatment protocol – about 12 to 44 months– if they want to achieve straighter, more beautiful teeth.
MYTH #4: Once the braces come off, you put on retainers for only a year.
It used to be common knowledge that once a dentist takes off the braces, the patient is prescribed to wear dental retainers for only a year. Unfortunately, casefiles over the years have proven that human teeth move continuously and intermittently. This means that patients must plan on wearing braces for many years if they want to maintain their straight, healthy teeth.
WHY SHOULD ADULTS WEAR BRACES
Enhanced Self-Esteem. It is a universal fact that everybody wants a winning smile, to be able to beam and grin to the world with confidence and pride. And it is also a universal truth that crooked, overcrowded teeth significantly reduces your chances of achieving picture-perfect smiles.
Studies have shown that people who have straight, even teeth tend to interact with more self-confidence compared with those who have unaddressed dental concerns. A healthy self-esteem plays a key role in forming healthy personal relationships, as well as in establishing positive professional impressions.
Better Oral Health. Due to the costly nature of wearing braces and retainers, some adults never received orthodontic intervention as children. When left entirely untreated, malformation issues such as crooked or crowded teeth, underbites and overbites, jaw joint disorders or incorrect jaw positions can lead to teeth decay, early teeth loss, pain in the head and ears, as well as speaking, biting and chewing problems.
Also, the chance of plaque buildup increases when teeth are misaligned or in cross bites. The more plaque in your teeth, the higher the risk of developing periodontal and gum diseases such as gingivitis.
Improper bites also make chewing cumbersome. When food is not properly broken down, it may later lead to gastrointestinal problems.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BRACES
The last 15 years witnessed a remarkable evolution in dental care. More choices in corrective orthodontic products had been designed to address the contentious issues of weight, aesthetics, comfort level, length of time wearing the braces, and even post-braces care.
Unlike their predecessors that used big brackets and bands that wrapped all the way around the tooth, today’s generation of braces have smaller bonded brackets designed to improve comfort and appearance. There are even braces that are clear for those who prefer a less conspicuous look, as well as multi-colored ones for the trendy fashion-setters.
Traditional metal braces, made of high-grade stainless steel and attached to the front of the teeth, are often recommended for patients with extensive bite problems or severely crooked teeth. Due to the pressure they exert, metal braces have proven to be more effective at moving teeth to their desired positions
Adults who swore they will never go the “metal mouth” route prefer ceramic braces made of clear material. In most simple cases, they work fine. Unfortunately, overtime, the adhesive that holds the brackets in place can stain from smoking and drinking soda, tea and other colored beverages. Clear braces also cost more than traditional metal braces
One of the most dramatic inventions of late in the world of orthodontics is Invisalign. With this, patients wear a series of clear adjustable aligners without wires or metals. The customized aligners move the teeth gradually into place, with total treatment time ranging from a few months to as long as 1 ½ years depending on the severity of the bite or crookedness of the teeth.
For those who do not have the luxury of time and want instant results, there are wafer-thin shells called porcelain veneers that are bonded to the front side of teeth to enhance their cosmetic appearance. A competent aesthetic dentist would be able to correct the position, shape, color and overall appearance of the teeth within a few hours. Be advised though that this “quick fix” miracle can cost anywhere from $700 to $2,000 each and that it is not very effective at correcting bite problems.
BEAUTIFUL, HEALTHY SMILE AT ANY AGE.
It is never too late to have your teeth straightened and face the world with greater confidence. Consult a reputable orthodontist to discuss your specific dental concerns, goals and time frames.
Remember that like all worthy investments, you need to commit to the journey to reap the most gains – take extra good care of your teeth and braces by brushing, flossing and rinsing; keep your dental appointments and be open in asking questions; and most importantly, make sure to follow the prescribed treatment period before your take off your braces and retainers.