Many people associate braces with school children, but getting braces as an adult is becoming much more common. Almost 20% of braces wearers are now adults. This is mostly due to the rise of more subtle, less visible options like the Damon Clear braces and the Essix aligner .
I had braces as a kid. Why do I need them again?
Teeth shift as you get older, and some people’s teeth shift more than others. If you didn’t wear your retainer as much as the orthodontist recommended, or are simply unlucky with your jaw’s natural growth, your teeth can become crooked again. Orthodontists have also recently realised through extensive research that retainers should now be worn much longer than recommended in previous decades, and sometimes indefinitely, to prevent tooth movement. Unfortunately, this means that even adults who were model patients as kids may find themselves needing braces again.
With the Damon System of treatment adult treatment now goes along quite quickly with the treatment times being reduced to as little as 18 months. With the force system being substantially lighter it is very much more comfortable. Also with this gentle system we are now able to broaden smiles substantially as we are able to move both the teeth and the surrounding bone. For this reason in many cases we are also able to move the teeth sufficiently to prevent the need for jaw surgery.
Why do adults choose to get braces?
Teeth can shift with age. This can be due to injury, tooth loss, unnatural growth patterns, habits like clenching and grinding of teeth and a tongue thrust when swallowing and so some adults find that their previously natural straight teeth have become crooked and overcrowded. They may also start experiencing jaw joint pain, gum problems due to difficulties when cleaning teeth, or simply being self conscious about their smile they find unattractive.
Other adults get braces because they’ve always had crooked teeth, but their parents couldn’t afford to pay for braces when they were growing up.
Overall, many adults see braces as a worthwhile investment of less than 2 years in exchange for decades of straight teeth.
When would I need jaw surgery?
There are instances when we cannot move the teeth sufficiently to achieve a good bite and facial balance. It is then that we need to adjust the jaw positions surgically in conjuction with an oral surgeon. Often adults who have this problem elect not to have the surgery as they are so happy with what has been achieved with the braces alone and are managing with their less than perfect bite without any noticeable side effects.
Do you suffer from Headaches?
Most headaches (80%) and pain of this nature are caused by a stress related habit of grinding and clenching of teeth. We can help by fitting a “bite splint”, which is made from acrylic and is worn on the front teeth while sleeping and is designed to prevent the back teeth from coming into contact.
A person with badly a positioned jaws and bite and have crooked teeth and who clench and grind as well can develop severe neuromuscular problems. These can manifest as headaches and jaw joint (TMJ) discomfort. This can result in painful clicking joints, an inability to open the mouth wide, earache and pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders. All these symptoms are also to be found in people with normal bites who habitually clench and grind their teeth.
How bite splint therapy works!
By preventing the back teeth from touching a bite splint functions by allowing the chewing muscles to relax easing the spasm and associated pain. It also postures the jaw in a more forward direction relieving the pressure inside the joints allowing for better lubrication and healing. It is also known to improve the quality and duration of sleep!
Jaw/bite disharmony can be corrected by orthodontic treatment, however if the clenching and grinding is a habit, which it mostly is, then a bite splint will still need to be worn after treatment and can be combined as a retainer.
This appliance is custom designed from impressions taken of the mouth and the bite.