At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, we have a pretty significant amount of El Dorado Hills adult braces and Invisalign patients and the number is continuing to rise. I’m not the only orthodontist who has been seeing more and more adults at their practice either. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in four orthodontic patients is a grown-up. Some of these patients never had the chance to straighten their teeth when they were younger. Others had braces or Invisalign in the past but experienced a relapse after forgetting to wear their retainer. Whatever the reason for seeking adult braces or Invisalign treatment, there are amazing benefits and it’s never too late to get a smile you love. However, there are myths abound about adult treatment that often make people hesitant to get the care they need. I’ll be separating fact from fiction to help give you a clear understanding of what your smile journey might look like.
Myth: Adult Orthodontic Treatment Isn’t That Effective.
Fact: While there are certainly benefits to having orthodontic treatment while you’re still growing, that doesn’t mean adult braces or Invisalign treatment aren’t going to transform your smile. Whether you’re 16 or 60, the biological mechanisms involved in orthodontic treatment are the same and the teeth will still move when steady, gentle force is applied. This holds true even for teeth treated with crowns, fillings and root canals. So, braces for adults over 40 are just as feasible as those for kids, teens or young adults, as long as the gums and supporting bone are healthy. If you do have dental issues that could impact the outcome, I can work with your general dentist or any dental specialists to ensure you can safely and effectively get the results you want.
Innovations, such as thin, space age, nickel titanium braces wires and Invisalign’s SmartTrack® material also mean a wider variety of cases, including crowding, spacing, overbites, deep bites and protruding front teeth, can often be fixed with braces or Invisalign alone. In more complex cases that involve underlying skeletal issues, like a significant underbite, adult braces combined with corrective jaw surgery could be the recommended course of action. However, even then, there are times when we can get great results without surgery. Here’s a #ProTip for you: Prior to coming into JKO for a complimentary consultation, think about whether your chief concerns lie in skeletal category: severe overbite or underbite, severe deep bite or open bite, jaw asymmetry, etc. or the dental or tooth position category: crowding, spacing, alignment. JKO’s core values include being good listeners and communicators and thinking about this ahead of time will help in our dialogue of how to best address your main concerns.
Another point to consider is that adults tend to be super compliant when it comes to treatment. They’re willing to wear their aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day, rock their rubber bands and brush and floss as directed. Since this means your pearly whites will be getting the ideal amount of force and your teeth and gums will be in tip-top shape, the overall outcome will be fantastic.
Myth: The Benefits of Having Straight Teeth are Just Cosmetic.
Fact: There are plenty of cosmetic benefits of adult orthodontic treatment, including an improved facial appearance and a gorgeous, straight smile. When you look good, you feel good so that’s not something to write off as insignificant. Yet, adult braces and Invisalign have benefits that go way beyond the cosmetic perks and also include major boosts to your oral health and, in turn, your overall health. These are some of the biggest benefits of braces for adults:
- Decreases Your Risk of Tooth Decay – Teeth that are crooked, overlapping or even spaced very far apart are harder to keep clean. It can be difficult to effectively get rid of plaque, bacteria and food debris. When plaque isn’t kicked to the curb, it feeds on the starches and sugars you eat and then releases acids. The acids attack the enamel of the teeth, causing it to soften. Eventually, it can eat away at the tooth’s structure and lead to tooth decay, or cavities. The weakened enamel can also result in tooth sensitivity when you eat things that are hot or cold. Braces and Invisalign move the teeth into their ideal positions, letting you brush and floss properly to remove plaque. This reduces your chances of developing tooth decay and needing costly dental treatment to fix it.
- Improves Gum Health – That build up of plaque we just discussed can also cause gum disease. When considering the braces for adults pros and cons, the health of your gums is a huge plus in the pro column. Orthodontic treatment lets you nix the plaque around your gum line and reduces the chances that you’ll develop gum disease. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults because the infection destroys the bone that supports the teeth; and the Center for Disease Control estimates that 50% of Americans have some form of gum disease. Additionally, it’s been tied to a host of other health concerns, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and, in women, premature birth. This really highlights the oral health and overall health connection.
- Clearer Speech – The teeth control the airflow when we produce certain sounds and we need space in our mouths for the tongue to move freely to create other sounds. That’s why issues like an overbite, spacing and an open bite are associated with speech impediments, ranging from lisping to difficulty articulating strident sounds (e.g., chin, zoo, shoe, etc.). Orthodontic treatment can help make your speech clearer by shifting the teeth into the right place and giving your tongue the space it needs to move around.
- Proper Chewing – When your jaw is aligned and your teeth are where they’re supposed to be, you’re able to chew effectively. By being able to comfortably eat a variety of foods, you can get all of the nutrients you need for good health.
- Reduces Discomfort – Malocclusion, which is orthodontist speak for issues with the bite, can lead to an uneven bite that puts stress on some teeth more than others. By straightening the teeth and aligning the upper and lower jaws, or the teeth, we can help the bite come together correctly to reduce discomfort.
- May Open the Airway – For those diagnosed with sleep apnea, working with your sleep physician is recommended. As orthodontists, we cannot diagnose sleep apnea, but we can provide treatment options that can help improve sleep disordered breathing. These treatments may involve surgical orthodontics (combining braces or Invisalign with jaw surgery) if apnea is severe. For more mild or moderate cases, your orthodontist can also make you a custom oral appliance, which is a non-invasive way to breathe better and get a good night’s sleep. Why would you have an Orthodontist design a sleep appliance? These types of appliances were initially designed as orthodontic appliances and we commonly use these types of appliances to help with correction of “overbites.”
- Keeps the Supporting Tissues Strong – Undue stress on the teeth and gums due to misalignment causes uneven wear of the teeth and can also result in the bone that supports the teeth breaking down over time, leading to pain and tooth loss. Getting braces as an adult or opting for Invisalign can help keep the bone and supporting tissue healthy and strong.
- Prevents Injury to Protruding Teeth – When the teeth stick out, especially the top front teeth, they’re more susceptible to injury. Orthodontic treatment will shift the teeth back to their proper places to keep them safe.
- Makes Space for Dental Implants – When a tooth is lost, whether from injury, decay or gum disease, the teeth that are left behind have a tendency to shift and fill in the gap where the tooth once was if it’s not replaced right away. Sometimes, it’s necessary to wear or braces or Invisalign to move the teeth back to where they were and make room for a dental implant, or implants, to be placed. #ProTip: Dental implants work by integrating and attaching directly to your bone. So, if you’re considering replacing a missing tooth with an implant, know that once that implant is placed, moving the teeth around the implant to correct a bite problem sometimes isn’t possible. If you haven’t told your dentist or prosthodontist you might be interested in orthodontic treatment, they have no way of knowing that the position they’re planning for the implant may not be the ideal choice. If there’s even a remote possibility that you would like to improve your smile by straightening your teeth, come see us beforehand so that we can plan the position of the implant and size of the replacement tooth with your dentist.
- Helps You Make a Good First Impression – Studies have revealed that people perceive individuals with straight teeth as more successful, smarter and more likely to be hired for a job. It’s unfortunate that so much importance is placed on our appearance but having a great smile can help you make a better first impression.
- Increases Your Confidence – Feeling self-conscious about your smile can cause you to hold back. One of the biggest benefits of adult braces and Invisalign is gaining confidence from having a smile you love. This confidence is important for all areas of your life, including your career and relationships.
Myth: Getting Braces as an Adult Means Wearing Metal Braces.
Fact: There are a variety of types of braces for adults. While I do have to say that today’s metal braces have seen vast improvements and are a great option for grown-ups, there are plenty of other choices too, including clear braces and Invisalign. Here’s what I offer at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics:
- Traditional Metal Braces – Modern metal braces are much more low profile and comfortable than they used to be. They consist of a system of brackets and archwires. The brackets, which are made of high-grade stainless steel, are bonded to the teeth and we slide the wire though them to act as a track to guide the teeth into place.
- Ceramic Braces – Ceramic braces, or clear braces, are among the most popular of the types of braces for adults. They too rely on brackets and wires. However, clear braces are made from a durable, ceramic material that blends in with your smile, making them almost like invisible braces. Grown-ups tend to love them because you get the straightening power of braces in a more aesthetic package.
- Gold Braces – Gold braces work in the same way as metal braces and clear braces. Like metal braces, they’re made of stainless steel but they’re coated in gold. If you like the idea of a little sparkle but prefer gold to silver, perhaps gold braces are an option to consider. They also bring more warmth to the smile due to the color.
- Lingual Braces – Lingual braces are the least visible of any of the types of braces. They’re bonded to the back of the teeth on the tongue side, so they can’t be seen when you smile. They’re smaller and customized to your teeth. They do require a bit more attention to oral hygiene, which is why we usually reserve these for teens and adults.
- Invisalign – If you don’t love the idea of getting braces as an adult, Invisalign is an excellent alternative. There are no brackets or wires. Instead, you’ll wear custom, removable, BPA-free plastic, clear aligners. When you come to our office, a team member will take digital impressions using our iTero scanner and a 3D, computerized model of your mouth will be created. I’ll map out each individual tooth movement directly on the model and Invisalign will fabricate aligners according to my prescription for maximum precision. You’ll wear the virtually invisible aligners for about 22 hours per day (22 hours a day keeps the braces away), taking them out to eat, brush and floss. Your oral hygiene routine will stay the same and there are no food restrictions.Plus, the biggest benefit for most of my adult orthodontic patients is that most people won’t notice you’re wearing the aligners.
Myth: Orthodontic Treatment for Adults Takes a Really Long Time.
All of the innovations we’ve talked about like enhanced wires and incredibly effective materials for clear aligners don’t just make treatment more effective and comfortable, they also ensure you’ll see results more quickly than you would have even a decade ago. You won’t be in treatment with adult braces or Invisalign forever. Orthodontic treatment usually takes between six months and two years. If you just need a touch-up after a relapse from previous orthodontic treatment, I can also create a limited treatment plan to get your smile back to where it was. When you come in for a consultation, I’ll look at your diagnostic records, examine you, determine your diagnosis and create a personalized treatment plan that meets your needs as efficiently as possible.
There is a lot of misinformation and savvy marketing out there on the Internet that says that certain treatments are 60% shorter than treatment with an Orthodontist, so buyer beware. #ProTip: Teeth don’t know what material they are being moved with; they only sense pressure. Your treatment time is related to the treatment goals we will talk about together. If you have limited goals, a personalized plan to address the limited goals will be shorter than a more comprehensive plan to address everything. At JKO, we’re here to listen and help you with your smile journey
Myth: Adult Braces and Invisalign are Expensive.
The cost of adult braces or Invisalign depends on a number of factors, including how severe your case is and how long your treatment will last. At Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics, we strive to make treatment accessible to all of our patients. We accept most insurances and we offer a variety of flexible payment plans to suit your budget. You’ll be able to get the smile you want without breaking the bank. We also have built in great value into your treatment; ask us about our retainer program. It’s not your average program and we think it provides some amazing benefits.
Myth: The Teeth-Straightening Process is Inconvenient.
#TeamJKO is all about making the teeth-straightening process work for our patients’ needs and lifestyles. We rely on the latest orthodontic appliances for quicker, more effective treatments. Our high-tech approach also includes on-site digital x-rays, as well as digital workflows and systems for faster appointments. We do everything we can to ensure you spend less time in my chair and more time living your life.
If you’re ready to get your dream smile and you’d like to learn more about our El Dorado Hills adult braces or Invisalign treatment, book a free consultation at Jeffrey Kwong Orthodontics today!