While a surprising number of adults benefit from orthodontic treatment, not all adults can take advantage.
It can depend on how well you have looked after your teeth and gums.
For example, gums may have receded so much that orthodontic treatment is not an option or roots may be very shallow if they have not been cared for properly.
Although the state of your mouth may mean that orthodontic treatment is not possible, the benefits of it can apply at any age and it is always worth checking the situation out with an orthodontist.
All orthodontists are trained how to treat adult patients but some specialize in this area.
An experienced orthodontist will know that adult treatment can take longer and may need to be more gentle than treatment earlier in life when someone is still growing.
Orthodontic services can be provided by any licensed dentist trained in orthodontics though most treatment is done by orthodontists.
A dentist must complete 2-3 years of additional training to earn a special qualification in orthodontics.
While many people think orthodontic treatment such as braces is mainly for children, it can help your health at any age.
Crooked teeth are harder to clean and the wear will be uneven. This can lead to inflamed gums and toothache which may even lead to you losing teeth.
Orthodontic treatment can therefore help prevent gum problems and tooth loss.
Another health benefit of having your teeth working effectively is that chewing is an important part of digestion. When you are not able to chew food properly, the rest of the digestive system has to work harder.
An important benefit of orthodontic treatment is therefore that in can help solve and prevent digestion problems.
Orthodontic treatment in adults is similar to teenage treatment although it normally takes a bit longer.
The healing process takes a bit longer as you get older so the orthodontist will need to move your teeth more slowly for example.
If your doctor or orthodontist believes you need braces, they will start by examining your teeth visually.
They will then set up an appointment to take X-rays and make molds and impressions so that they have a clear record of how your mouth currently looks.
These records will help them establish the problem and what course of action to take.
A short time before you receive the braces, spacers are added into your mouth to make sure there is enough space for the bands.
An adhesive will be applied to the teeth to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth.
In most cases the teeth will be banded and then brackets will be added.
The bracket will be applied with dental cement and light may be used and to help harden it. This may takes a few seconds for each tooth.
Molar bands may be needed to ensure the brackets stay in place.
Bands may also be needed if previous dental treatment such as fillings cause problems with attaching the bracket.
Once the brackets have been added, an archwire is threaded between them. This is fixed in place by ligatures, which may be elastic or metal.
Archwires are tightened frequently to help deliver the results required.
Brackets and or hooks may be added to the archwire for affixing the elastic.
Braces often use nickel-titanium archwires and temperature-sensitive materials. The archwire is flexible when cold and, when it is heated to body temperature, it stiffens and tries to retain its shape so this creates constant light pressure on the teeth.
Though various devices have been used to straighten teeth since the days of the Ancients Greeks and Romans, it was only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that orthodontics began to develop as separate science.
There is no one person who is universally seen as “The Father of Orthodontics” but several have a claim to the title.
One claim goes as far back as, 1728 when the French surgeon Pierre Fauchard published his book “The Surgeon Dentist”, which included a whole chapter on ways to straighten teeth.
This certainly gave orthodontics a huge push forward – although that term was actually coined in 1841 by Joachim Lafoulon.
But the science was not really put on the map until more than 100 years later.
First, dentist and writer Norman W. Kingsley wrote the first article on orthodontics in 1858 and published his book “Treatise on Oral Deformities” in 1880.
Another major step forward was when dentist J. N. Farrar wrote “A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections”.
Farrar was also very good at designing brace appliances and was the first to suggest using mild force at timed intervals to move teeth.
In the early 1900s, Edward H. Angle devised a classification system for malocclusions which is still used today.
This system was a way for dentists to describe how crooked teeth were and how they fitted together.
Angle contributed significantly to the design of orthodontic appliances and founded the first college of orthodontics in 1901.
Gradually the field of orthodontics became a respected dental specialty in its own right.
You may think the desire for straight teeth is a feature of our modern image-conscious society.
But there is evidence going back hundreds of years of devices being used to straighten teeth.
Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains where there were crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.
And Roman tombs also revealed evidence of teeth being bound with gold wire.
Around 500BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle both talked about how to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.
Nevertheless, it was much later that significant progress was made in orthodontics.
In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the “The Surgeon Dentist” with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth.
Scottish surgeon John Hunter wrote “The Natural History of the Human Teeth” in 1771, which described dental anatomy in clear detail and came up with terms in use today such as cuspids, incisors and molars.
While teeth straightening has been practiced since early times, orthodontics did not exist as a separate science until the mid-1800s.
The introduction of the wire crib in 1819 is seen as marking the birth of contemporary orthodontics although the term orthodontia was actually coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841.
In the late 1800s, Eugene Solomon Talbot was believed to be the first person to suggest using X-rays for orthodontic diagnosis.
But the real advancements in orthodontics came in the late 19th and 20th Centuries.
Orthodontists are specially-trained dentists who can fix problem with bad bite, crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.
One of the main benefits orthodontic treatment is cosmetic – you get a great smile that makes you look and feel better.
But there are real health benefits of orthodontic treatment too:
You will be able to chew your food easier: Chewing is an important part of digestion. Having crooked teeth means you don’t chew your food properly and could end up with indigestion and other stomach problems.
You will have fewer dental problems: As crooked teeth are hard to clean, you could have more cavities and gum disease than people who have had orthodontic treatment. When your teeth are crooked there is extra stress on your teeth, gums and jaw which can lead to problems later on.
You have less risk of breathing problems: The roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose leading to breathing problems and snoring. Orthodontic treatment can reduce this possibility.
Some recent research suggests a link between oral bacteria and cardiovascular disease, where calcium in your mouth is dissolved and deposited in your arteries.
Orthodontics helps prevent oral infections which may have a direct effect on heart disease.
Orthodontics not only gives you a great smile, it can lead to a healthier, happier and longer life.
Take a look in the mirror and smile. Do you like what you see?
Your smile is one of the things people notice most about you so it’s one of your most important features.
Would you feel better if you had a more appealing smile?
Well it may be possible.
Orthodontic treatment can improve your smile.
But more than that it can improve your health too.
One of the most common treatments used in orthodontics is braces.
If you are a parent, braces can be one of your best investments in your children’s future.
It’s a great way of improving their lifetime health and happiness.
Research shows that people who have had braces look better and feel better about themselves.
They even live longer and have a statistically lower risk of heart disease.
But braces are not only for kids.
Around 20% of orthodontic patients are over 18 and people in their 60s, 70s 80s and even older have had successful orthodontic treatment.
It could make a big difference to your life at any age.
Think about how a better smile could improve your life or those of your children.