Contrary to common thought, malocclusion – or “bad bite” – is not just a problem facing children and adolescents. As many as three quarters of adults have some form of orthodontic problem like crowding or drifting teeth, and today about one out of every five orthodontic patients is an adult.
There are many reasons to consider orthodontic treatment as an adult. It is never too late to boost your self-confidence and even enhance your career opportunities with a great looking smile. Furthermore, straightening teeth can make chewing more comfortable and teeth easier to clean.
Are you a good candidate for orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics involves moving teeth through bone to relocate them in better places for both appearance and function. The process actually removes bone in front of the moving teeth and lays new bone down behind as the result of light forces applied by either wires or appliances.
Periodontal health is an important factor when considering orthodontic treatment for older patients. Gum disease, which is more prevalent in adults than in adolescents, can lead to the loss of tooth-supporting bone.
Because orthodontic treatment can aggravate periodontal disease, it is essential to bring any existing periodontal disease under control before treatment begins. This does not mean, however, that people who have had periodontal disease treated and controlled cannot undergo orthodontic procedures. In fact, treatment is desirable because it moves teeth to positions that are more easily cleaned.
If you are an adult considering orthodontic treatment
- Work with your periodontist to understand any risks before starting treatment. Be sure to discuss the removal of unstable teeth and any future plans for dental implants.
- Do not start orthodontics until you have approval from your periodontist.
- Commit to more frequent supportive care from your periodontist during orthodontic treatment.
- Follow up with a comprehensive periodontal evaluation after orthodontic treatment to see if any new problems have developed.
The relationship between orthodontics and periodontal disease is complex. Be sure to consult both a periodontist and an orthodontist before beginning any course of treatment.