Although many orthodontic issues are better treated while the teeth and jaws are still developing (i.e. up until the age of around 19-20), there are still many orthodontic options available for adults who have malocclusions (bad 'bites') or misalignment of the teeth.
There are many reasons to consider orthodontic treatment in adulthood, as modern orthodontic techniques have improved greatly over the past ten years or so. This means that treatment is now in many cases…
- Much more accurate (with for example rapid and super accurate laser scanning of the teeth).
- Much more comfortable.
- Often much quicker.
- Much less visible, with an array of alternatives to standard metal braces available.
…and in some cases, much more affordable.
With around 1 in 3 Australians not happy with the appearance of their teeth, many more older people are choosing to have orthodontic work done. Alternatives to steel braces now include Invisalign and clear cosmetic braces as well as lingual braces (which sit behind the teeth.
Orthodontic treatment is available for people of any age, with the only real prerequisite being that the gums and underlying bone structure remain healthy, but other dental issues such as fillings or missing teeth may make treatment slightly more complicated, but do not rule it out altogether.
Other conditions that may develop in adulthood can be significantly helped (or in some cases completely fixed) by orthodontic treatment, such as difficulties with chewing food, talking and sleeping, particularly the condition sleep apnoea.
Many of these conditions can be improved with orthognathic surgery, which is surgery to correct the jaw (also referred to as 'surgical orthodontics'). This type of surgery corrects abnormalities of the jawbone and the teeth. It can also improve the overall appearance of the face by relocating the jaw and by correcting a change in shape of the face often caused by missing teeth.
Another reason to consider orthodontic treatment is to improve the health of the teeth and gums. Some conditions, such as bad bite (‘malocclusion’) can also accelerate tooth decay, abnormal wearing of the teeth and tooth enamel and loss of bone, as well as cause jaw problems such as TMD / TMJ (jaw joint pain and resulting headaches).