In short, no, you are never too old for orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist considers many variables when developing your customized treatment plan, but age is rarely a deciding factor. Orthodontic treatment can be as successful for adults as it is for adolescents. In fact, one in three orthodontic patients is an adult.
Adults’ teeth can be moved, too.
Whether you’re 8 or 80, it’s the same physiological process that moves teeth through bone. Teeth move in response to forces being placed on them over time. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected as easily for adults as for children/teens. Adults have denser bone tissue than children, so treatment may take a little longer, but age does not keep teeth from moving.
How is adult treatment different?
The biggest difference in orthodontics for adults vs. children/teens is that adults are no longer growing. Adult treatment may take slightly longer than treatment for children/teens with a similar problem due to the maturity and density of the bone adults have.
They may have fillings, missing teeth, misshapen or worn teeth, or other dental disease. Some medications, and habits like smoking, clenching or grinding teeth, or tongue thrust, can affect the outcome of treatment. It’s common for orthodontists to work with a patient’s family dentist to coordinate care. For some adults to reach optimal dental health, the dentist and orthodontist may need to call in other dental specialists such as oral surgeons, periodontists and endodontists.
How does the treatment process work?
To move your teeth in their ideal positions, your orthodontist will use an “appliance,” braces or aligners, for example, to deliver controlled forces that gently and predictably reposition teeth. Advances in orthodontics have made treatment more comfortable and less noticeable than ever. Many of today’s treatment options are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to better fit any lifestyle. Today’s options include clear aligners, tooth-colored braces, tiny but more traditional metal braces, and braces that go behind the teeth.
Not every type of appliance is suitable for correction of every kind of orthodontic problem. This is another reason to make sure you are being treated by orthodontist – selecting the right appliance to correct your problem. Orthodontists have access to the full range of appliances, and more than anyone else in the dental profession, orthodontists know which appliance is right for an individual patient’s care.
How long does orthodontic treatment last?
Treatment lasts an average of 22 months. During that time, orthodontist visits are scheduled about every six weeks to eight. It’s a comparatively small investment of time that pays big dividends in improved dental health, better function (biting, chewing), the ability to more easily keep your teeth clean, and higher self-confidence.
The opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile has not passed you by. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life hiding your smile. Just because you didn’t have orthodontic treatment when you were a youngster doesn’t prevent you from doing something about it now. Your age doesn’t matter. You can have the smile you’ve always wanted. It starts with consulting an American Association of Orthodontists.