Adult Orthodontic Patients: A Different Ball Game than Treating Children

In the past, orthodontic treatment was often considered a childhood issue. It is certainly true that children benefit from orthodontic procedures, since major alignment issues are often more easily corrected while adult teeth are still relatively new additions. However, more and more adults are seeking orthodontic treatment than ever before. In fact 1 in 5 orthodontic patients today are adults. These adults seek orthodontic help for a variety of reasons, including cosmetic and dental health concerns. Treatment for adult patients can often require a different approach and mindset than that for adolescents and general dentists taking orthodontics training should be aware of these differences.

Differences in Targeted Problems

When dealing with adolescent patients, orthodontic procedures are often undertaken to prevent future problems from materializing and causing issues later. With adults, these issues are often already present. Therefore, adults might choose to undergo tooth straightening procedures to help stave off later stages of gum disease. A straighter smile can also make tooth maintenance easier to manage. Because aging causes issues with the digestive process, adults may choose to undergo orthodontic treatment to improve their ability to chew their food and thereby facilitate digestion.

Adult Tooth Malleability

Malleability is the ability of an object to be formed or shaped. Logically, a tooth is more malleable when it is first being positioned in the mouth during adolescence. However, that does not mean that adults cannot benefit from orthodontic treatment. In fact, in our continuing education classes in orthodontics, we teach general dentists it has been shown that most alignment issues can be effectively addressed at an advanced age. The only difference is that treatment often takes a bit longer in adult patients than in adolescents. This is due to the older patient’s reduced ability to heal as quickly as in their youth. Unlike children, adult patients do not have the option to enlarge the jaw due to the reduced malleability of facial bone structure. On the other hand, tooth straightening is quite possible in adults.

Treatment Plan Differences

The plan for treatment is very similar in adolescents and adults, with a few notable exceptions. Since the jaw cannot be enlarged in adults with ease, surgery is often required. Another option for this is to have a tooth pulled. These procedures are needed to make room for the realignment of the teeth. After that, braces are installed and the procedure is similar at any age from that point onward.

Patient Concern Differences

Braces are a major cosmetic concern for both children and adults. Since braces are so common in adolescents, though, the concern is mitigated. However, orthodontists must keep in mind that many people are not used to seeing adults with braces. That makes appearance a major issue for adult patients. Fortunately, advances in the field have created a number of low visibility options for adult braces. These modern braces allow for adults to enjoy discrete, easily maintained braces for their orthodontic procedures. That way, adults can continue living the life they have established without feeling self-conscious.

About the Author
Clinton Hansen is content writer with over 6 years experience.He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the healthcare. Get more information on orthodontics seminars and orthodontics continuing education.

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