Nobody looks forward to the prospect of undergoing orthodontic treatment. But for adults undergoing orthodontic treatment later in life, it can feel especially daunting. Many people have understandable concerns about the time, possible discomfort, and expense associated with orthodontic treatment. There are cosmetic implications to consider, too. “If I begin orthodontic treatment now, will I look like a teenager with a mouthful of metal? Will it harm my professional appearance in the workplace?”
Is Orthodontics Really for Me?
Many adult patients hold the mistaken belief that it’s “too late” to fix their orthodontic problems. But the truth is that there are no age restrictions when it comes to orthodontic treatment. You’re never too old for beautiful teeth to be an achievable goal. Whether you’re dealing with an overjet, an open bite, or a crossbite, adult orthodontics can help bring you closer to the smile you’ve always wanted.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Traditional metal braces are still some of the most popular and cost-effective orthodontic appliances available on the market today. However, for adults concerned about how metal brackets may affect their appearance, there are alternatives.
- Clear aligners, of which Invisalign is the most common
- Lingual braces, which are affixed to the back of the teeth
- Ceramic braces with clear or white brackets that more closely resemble the color of your natural enamel
Your orthodontist can help you decide which treatment avenue is best for your unique situation.
What Can Orthodontics Help Treat?
Orthodontics is used to correct a variety of problems including
- Open bites
The nature and duration of treatment vary depending on the severity of the problem and the treatment plan prescribed by your orthodontist. This article will explore what orthodontic treatment can do for three of the most common complaints patients have about their teeth—overjets, open bites, and crossbites—and explain just what orthodontic treatment does to correct them.
Orthodontics for Your Overjet
First of all, let’s define what we mean when we talk about an overjet. Technically speaking, an overjet (sometimes called “buck teeth”) is the name given to upper teeth that protrude past the lower teeth. In addition to being a common cosmetic complaint, an overjet can pose other, more serious problems to patients. Protruding upper teeth often signify more complicated bite problems with the molars (back teeth), which can not only impact how you chew food but can cause issues with jaw, or TMJ pain. Furthermore, protruding upper teeth aren’t as well protected as teeth that are aligned correctly, which means they can be more prone to injury in the event of a fall, a sports-related accident, or other mishaps.
Overjets can be caused by having an underdeveloped lower jaw, as well as by habits like thumb-sucking that can affect the positioning of the teeth over time. If you’re dealing with the consequences of having an overjet, orthodontic treatment can help you. Seeking intervention as early as possible will not only make a tremendous difference for you cosmetically, but it will help to prevent future wear to your teeth and avoid even more challenging complications later in life. Once you see the before and after pictures, you’ll wonder why you didn’t seek treatment sooner!
Orthodontics for Your Open Bite
An open bite is a kind of malocclusion. Generally speaking, it’s a less common cosmetic concern than an overjet, but it can still create its share of problems. An open bite is when the upper and lower teeth cannot make contact when the mouth is closed. It’s typically caused by either dental, skeletal, or habitual problems or some combination of all three. Sucking the thumb or the lower lip, thrusting the tongue forward in the mouth, and having a tongue that sits too far forward inside the mouth when at rest can all exacerbate the appearance of an open bite. While some open bites that don’t have a dental or skeletal cause sometimes resolve gradually as a child ages, adults frequently require orthodontic intervention to treat this issue.
Otherwise, you can expect unnecessary extra wear on your rear teeth, painful chewing, and sometimes even impaired speech. Your orthodontist can help you formulate a treatment plan to address your open bite. Depending on its severity, this may involve the use of a tongue thrust appliance (a device that helps create distance between the tongue and the teeth), a herbst appliance to help adjust the alignment of the upper and lower jaws, and likely braces to help move your back teeth into an optimal position. Depending on the severity of your open bite, clear aligners are often a preferred way to correct these type of bites. Either way, you should see a significant difference in the appearance and function of your teeth after treatment is complete!
Orthodontics for Your Cross Bite
A cross bite is another condition with the potential to cause long-term wear and damage to the teeth if not corrected with orthodontics. With a cross bite, one or more of the patient’s upper teeth bite inside of the lower teeth instead of outside like they’re supposed to. This can make chewing and talking difficult, and it can cause uneven growth of the jaw. It can eventually lead to bone loss and painful problems like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder if not dealt with.
In children and adolescents, crossbites are effectively treated with a combination of palate expanders and/or braces. The expander is affixed to the upper back teeth and help to expand the upper jaw over time so the upper arch can accommodate the lower teeth. Expanders are not as effective in adults due to the maturation of the bone and sutures. More serious cross bites, especially in adult mouths, can require surgical intervention. Therefore, it is highly recommended that crossbites be corrected at a young age!
Regardless of the condition of your teeth, orthodontic treatment can help make a difference in your life. In addition to relieving pain and problems associated with an improper bite, it can also resolve cosmetic ailments that affect your confidence and the way you’re perceived. Even if you’re beginning your course of treatment later in life, this is an investment you’ll thank yourself for making for years to come!
Nease and Higginbotham Orthodontics
424 Hyatt Street – Suite E
Phone: (864) 579-7700
Help With The Big 3 – [Overjet, Open Bite, and Cross Bite]