Adult orthodontia is increasingly becoming more commonplace. For many decades, orthodontic treatments such as braces were considered something confined to children and adolescents. Most adults simply choose not to undergo orthodontic treatment due to this mindset or the fact that many adults do not want to sacrifice the appearance of their smile. The truth is that orthodontics are equally as beneficial and necessary for adults as they are for children. Even adults who at one point in their life had braces can benefit from orthodontics, as the teeth have a natural tendency to shift over time.
At present, more than one million American adults wear braces, with 20% of all braces patients considered to be adults. The advantages of adult orthodontia are numerous. Straight teeth are far more than a simple aesthetic treatment, they are essential for optimal oral health. When the teeth are improperly aligned, they are more prone to accumulating harmful bacteria and plaque. What’s more, crowded teeth are much harder to keep clean, often resulting in the need for reconstructive dental work due to untreated decay. With orthodontic care, teeth are aligned to their ideal position and the entire mouth is much healthier.
Crooked teeth can also adversely affect the bite pattern. This can pose serious damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and cause recurrent jaw pain and headaches. Disorders of the TMJ affect millions of American adults, and many of the causes can be prevented with basic orthodontic treatment.
There are numerous orthodontic treatment options for adults. Traditional braces are the most common, and are suitable for patients of any age. Although most adults are wary of the aesthetic sacrifice required, the benefit far outweighs this temporary concession. What’s more, modern orthodontics makes it possible to have braces that are more inconspicuous. Some can even be placed on the inner surfaces of teeth where they are completely hidden from view.
One new treatment which is very popular among adults is Invisalign. As the name suggests, this orthodontic treatment consists of nearly invisible devices which gradually straighten the teeth. The aligners are easily removable for eating or brushing, and can often achieve the desired result in as little as 6 months of use.
Regardless of age, all patients have unique cost considerations. While adult orthodontia does represent a significant investment, the benefits are well worth the cost. Traditional braces typically cost several thousand dollars for a full arch on both the upper and lower teeth. Due to more intricate placement and routine adjustment measures, braces on the inner surfaces of teeth generally cost slightly more. As for Invisalign, the cost is usually comparable to the price of traditional braces, although they are sometimes less expensive due to the shorter duration typically required.
The good news is that most insurances provide significant coverage for adult orthodontia. Because properly aligned teeth are essential to oral health, many providers will pay up to half the cost of braces and sometimes more. When considering orthodontic treatment, be sure to consult with your orthodontist to find out exactly how much your treatment will cost, whether he or she accepts your insurance plan, and what you can expect to pay out of pocket.