Adult Braces

Misconceptions About Orthodontics

August 31st, 2020

While everyone understands that a dentist takes care of teeth, not everyone is aware of what an orthodontist does. This confusion sometimes leads to misunderstandings about what our practice does for our patients and how exactly we can help them. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the myths and misconceptions about orthodontics.

Perhaps the biggest misconception about the orthodontist is that we’re just like your family dentist. The truth is, we are actually very different. While it’s true that both orthodontists and dentists care about helping you enjoy a lifetime of good dental and oral health, we go about achieving this goal in different ways. For instance, if you need to have a cavity filled, you probably won’t make an appointment to see us. Dentists are the health professionals to see if you’re concerned about a cavity or need a filling. Actually for any sort of restorative procedure, including crowns, bridges or veneers, a dentist is the correct professional to see. A dentist can also treat gum disease, tooth decay, toothaches, and other common oral health problems.

People see an orthodontist for very particular services. Most of the patients we see on a daily basis are here because they have braces or clear aligners, or they need to be fitted with braces, aligners or another form of tooth-straightening device. In other words, they consult an orthodontist when they are concerned about the alignment of their teeth. Correcting misaligned teeth not only results in the important esthetic benefit for a beautiful smile, but as importantly allows your teeth and gums to remain healthy as your bite is properly balanced, and you can more easily care for your smile. As a child grows up, his or her teeth may grow in crooked or have gaps between teeth. This can happen for a number of reasons, so it’s important for an orthodontist to take a look at a child’s teeth at about seven years of age. At that age, it’s possible to detect any problems that have not become too advanced and more easily treat those. Your family dentist may also refer your child to an orthodontist once the adult teeth have fully grown in.

Another common misconception about orthodontists is that we only treat children. It’s true that when you visit an orthodontist you’re apt to see some young kids, but you’ll also see teenagers, college students, and adults. Because crooked teeth can be caused by a number of different factors, it’s entirely possible for someone to require orthodontic treatment at any age. In fact, at Linaker Orthodontics, our number of adult patients is growing exponentially.

If you want to know more about the practice of orthodontics or what Dr Linaker can do for you, we invite you to simply ask us. It’s best to get answers to your specific questions directly from the person who will be treating you. While you’re sure to find Internet resources helpful, there really is no substitute for the personal attention you’ll get during your appointment at our practice.

You can call us at 520-531-1496, email to or head to our home page and click 'Virtual Consultation' or 'Appointment Request'.  We can't wait to speak with you.

Copyright © Sesame Communications

Will My Teeth Stay Where My Orthodontic Treatment Moved Them?

October 1st, 2018

At Linaker Orthodontics, this question has come up from time to time from our patients and parents. We try to explain the importance of retainer wear before treatment begins, during treatment and of course as your treatment is completed and retainers are placed.

Change is a natural part of life. Just as our bodies change throughout our whole life, our teeth change too. We start out with no teeth, then get baby teeth, and shed those in favor of permanent teeth. Sometimes there are problems with tooth placement and jaw positions. That’s where the orthodontist is called in to bring about a change for the better, and transform misaligned teeth and jaws into a healthy and beautiful smile.

After any orthodontic treatment is complete the most reliable way to keep your teeth where you and Dr. Linaker moved them is by wearing your retainers as prescribed. Your teeth will not stay where they’ve moved to unless you do. Changes in tooth position are a lifelong and naturally occurring phenomenon, and to maintain the result created by your orthodontic treatment, retainers must be worn. While small changes after treatment are normal, retainers prevent teeth from going back to their original positions.

When treatment is complete, there is a “settling in” period; teeth adjust as you bite, chew, swallow and speak – actions that all place forces on your teeth. These small changes in tooth position are not a failure of orthodontic treatment, but are a natural process. If your retainer is not worn as prescribed, however, large changes occur instead. Large changes are disappointing to you and to us. If you are in retainers, and should you notice an unwanted change in your bite or your smile, or if you should lose a removable retainer or damage a fixed retainer (bonded in behind teeth), contact us right away. Don’t give your teeth an opportunity to shift.

Commit to wearing retainers as prescribed and limit those undesirable changes!

Linaker Ortho Invisalign Hacks

March 12th, 2018

As we’re seeing an increasing number of Invisalign patients, and even have one of our staff in treatment, we’re hearing some great feedback that we can share with all of you that hopefully will make your Invisalign Treatment even more enjoyable.
If you’re currently in treatment and have a great idea or Invisalign Life Hack to share with us make sure to let us know so we can pass it along.

Soak your aligners in a clear whitening rinse while you’re eating and brushing, this will keep them clear longer and give you a minty fresh feel when you put them back in. We’ve noticed that some colored rinses can tint your aligners and then they need to be scrubbed which can dull them.
(BONUS: We’ve seen some patients teeth even get whiter simply from soaking them a whitening rinse and putting the aligners directly in their mouth.)
Keep a good nail file on hand (gentlemen this is for you too) At times, new aligner trays will have rough edges that could irritate your tongue, cheeks and lips. Simply file them a bit yourself to smooth them down. This will make your aligners more comfortable and save you a trip to the office.
Make sure you have your Invisalign Case with you at all times. You can also ask for an extra case at the office to have one for home and one for your purse or pocket. You want to be able to keep your aligners protected on those impromptu stops for coffee or lunch. There’s nothing worse than having to dig thru a public garbage can for something that is practically invisible because they were inadvertently wrapped in a napkin and subsequently thrown away. :-O
Eat with your aligners in. Believe it, this is an option. We wouldn’t recommend foods or drinks that could potentially stain (such as spaghetti with red sauce, red wines, coffee, etc…) or perhaps a big old steak, but many foods can be chewed just fine with your aligners in place. This eliminates the possibility of them being thrown away. Then just make sure to remove them to rinse and brush as soon as possible.
Keep a travel dental/aligner cleaning kit in your purse, backpack, carryon bag or vehicle. It’s important to put clean aligners on clean teeth so even if you can’t take the time to thoroughly floss and brush, you can at least get things clean enough to replace your aligners until you get home or to your next destination.
Colored lozenges or hard candies are not your friend. These can damage and stain your aligners. Try not to have sweets in your mouth with your aligners and if needed, switch to a lozenge with no color such as a honey or lemon flavor. Also, breath freshening strips such as Listerine strips are a great option in place of gum or a sugary breath mint.
Lipstick is possible! Girls you may have found that some lipstick colors have ended up on your aligners and given up on the idea for as long as you’re in treatment. We’ve found however that using a matte lipstick, an extended wear color and/or blotting your lip color several times, proves to help make lip color a possibility. Make sure to apply your lip color without aligners in or to not let your lips rub against your teeth/aligners until the color is blotted and dry.
Put your new set of aligners in before bed each week. This helps provide potentially 8 hours of uninterrupted movement as your new aligners begin to transform your teeth to the next position. Also, for some of us, each new set of aligners causes a little soreness, getting that movement while we sleep will help to deal with any possible discomfort.
Jump on to your patient page on our website and watch your Clincheck animation. Depending on the length of your treatment, your excitement may begin to wane. Seeing the simulation of your teeth moving toward their final straightened position promises to be just the encouragement you need to keep your aligners in and keep going! You can even share this with your friends and family and let them see how easy and amazing Invisalign treatment is.
SMILE!!! Show off your aligners and your new beautiful straight teeth. And when people ask about them, which they will, make sure to tell everyone how much you love Linaker Orthodontics and they should make a new patient consultation appointment! (And if they tell us you sent them, you’ll receive a gift card for the referral ;-) Win/Win!)

October is National Orthodontic Health Month

October 4th, 2016

October is National Orthodontic Health month and we think it's no coincidence - for Linaker Orthodontics it's a perfect time to remind our patients with braces to put some thought into the treats you enjoy this Halloween. We want our patients in braces to enjoy the holiday and not feel that they are missing out. They can choose among the many treats that are brace-friendly, avoiding ones that are hard, sticky, gummy or chewy. Brace-friendly ones include soft, nut free candies, soft candy bars, peppermint patties, and peanut butter cups. There are lots more that will keep your braces safe and still let you enjoy the holiday! Remember the beautiful smile that is in your future will be much sweeter than the momentary pleasure from candy that damages your braces or your teeth.

For everyone, a gentle reminder that sugar, when left on the teeth creates a perfect breeding ground for damage to your teeth and gums, including cavities! Brushing and flossing continues to be an important habit that is even more critical when your intake of sugary foods increases. For those in braces, this means brushing carefully around all the brackets and wires and concentrating on areas where the teeth meet the gums and where the braces attach to the teeth!

Orthodontic Health month is also an opportunity for us to remind everyone of the positive impact orthodontic care can have. Regardless of your age, orthodontics can improve how you look and also have a positive impact on your health. If you have crowded teeth, having braces can improve your ability to keep everything clean, reduce periodontal problems and tooth wear. If you experience pain or discomfort from TMJ, orthodontics can offer long term relief. Orthodontics can also have a positive impact on your confidence; no more hiding your smile or feeling less than fabulous! There are many other benefits to orthodontic care and we're happy to talk to you about the benefits you or your child can have from orthodontic care.

At Linaker Orthodontics we have many treatment options including metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen. Your complimentary consultation will give you an opportunity to see our office, meet our team, and find out all about your treatment options and our affordable treatment plans. We have two convenient locations in the Tucson area. Call our office to schedule your initial exam and consultation today!

Straight Talk About Braces for Adults

November 11th, 2014

Thinking about getting braces? Experts say it's never too late. These days, adults make up nearly half of orthodontic patients hoping to finally get the perfect smile they've always dreamed about.

Braces have evolved considerably in the last 15 years. Breathe easy, the days of being a true "metal mouth" are over and more lightweight and cosmetically friendly options are out there.

"The [brackets] are smaller and we don't use all the bands or appliances that wrap all the way around [the tooth] like we used to. Now, we use bonded brackets that are a lot smaller or the clear braces that are a lot more cosmetic as far as their appearance," Michael Sebastian, DDS, an orthodontist in Atlanta, tells WebMD. Sebastian says this and less pain and time associated with wearing braces have more adults making the plunge. Sebastian says adults can expect to wear braces an average of 12 to 20 months.

Bracing for Braces

But why now? Maybe the reason is as an adult you can afford braces when your parents couldn't or you are simply more conscious of the cosmetic and health benefits of having straight teeth.

Most people want a great smile, and adults know that it can make a great difference not only in their personal but also their professional lives. Many say the payoff is worth the temporary inconvenience and expense of braces.

"Patients that I see now, I think there's an initial concern, but if they really and truly want the braces, they're not that concerned once they make the decision. Once they've made up their mind to get them, they fall right in because they either know someone that had them before or they've seen their kids go through it and they want the same thing for themselves," says Duane Anglin, DDS, a dentist outside of Baltimore who decided to get braces during dental school. He says he has no regrets.

"From a professional standpoint, I think I'm a lot more comfortable walking in the room and saying hello, good morning, and meeting a new patient for the first time, because in the back of my mind it was always, 'How am I going to be a dentist and have teeth that are not straight?'" he says.

Sebastian says age shouldn't be a worry. He says as people live longer, he sees more adults of all ages interested in preserving their teeth. Senior citizens are even becoming more common in his practice.

The Healthy Smile

Dental professionals say there are also health reasons for having a correct bite.

"With teeth that are in cross bite, teeth that are misaligned, there is an increased chance of plaque buildup, food buildup in between your teeth, which is a trickle-down effect because the more food buildup, the more plaque; therefore, the more concern for periodontal disease and gum disease," Anglin tells WebMD. Improper bite also means you can't chew food properly, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems, he says.

So how do you get that Hollywood smile? There are more options than ever. With traditional braces, you can select metal or clear/ceramic braces, but there are pros and cons.

"Traditional metal braces -- if the patient has a significant bite problem or severely crooked teeth -- are slightly more effective at moving teeth than clear braces. If you came to me and said, 'I want my teeth as straight as fast as possible,' and you had really crooked teeth, then I'd say put metal braces on," Sebastian says.

He says clear braces work fine in most cases but there are some downfalls. The adhesive that holds the bracket in place can stain from dark drinks and smoking, and they cost more than metal braces.

Often, adults hoping to avoid "metal mouth" go the clear route.

"I'm not embarrassed about having [braces] at my age because you see a lot of people now, young adults, even older adults wearing braces," says Ivy Horn, a lawyer in Atlanta who is considering clear/ceramic braces after already wearing metal braces as a teen. "In my field I do a lot of speaking when I am in court a lot. I just think it would look better if I had the clear braces rather than the metal braces so people aren't focusing so much on what's in my mouth but the words that are coming out of my mouth."

Statistics from the October Journal of Clinical Orthodontics show that the average cost of an adult set of braces in the U.S. is $4,800.

Invisalign vs. Braces

Another option for the vain at heart is Invisalign. Patients wear a series of clear, removable orthodontic aligners that are adjusted as the teeth shift into place without metal or wires. A series of custom-made aligners are worn each for a period of two weeks. Each aligner moves the teeth progressively into place. Average total treatment time: a few months to 1 1/2 years. While orthodontists say Invisalign can be a good alternative to traditional braces, there are limitations.

"Invisalign does not do a great job on vertical problems, where the teeth are at different heights, teeth are lower or higher than others. It doesn't not do a good job on teeth that are severely rotated, and it does not do a good job at correcting bite issues," says Sebastian, who also says Invisalign would also not be the best option for fixing severely overcrowded teeth.

Sebastian says Invisalign can cost an average of $500 more than a one-year treatment with traditional braces.

A critical component of braces are the end game -- wearing the retainer. "It used to be, your teeth are straight, you wear retainers for a year, it will never change. Well, we know that's just not fact. Now we have to tell patients to plan on retention for years; lifetime retention is the word that they use now," says Sebastian, who has a number of patients who are repeat orthodontic clients.

Whatever your motivation to straighten your teeth, Dorfman -- who has had a complete smile makeover himself -- says it can change your life.

"I would say that if you're not happy with your smile, 90% of the time, changing it is a lot easier than you ever thought and you should find a good cosmetic dentist in your area and go and have a consultation and talk about it. Life is too short not to be able to walk into a room and just have a beautiful, healthy, happy smile that makes you feel good about yourself."

Adapted from WebMD By 

A Brief History of Braces when Metal Mouth really described it...

October 22nd, 2014

If you think the desire for straight teeth is a trapping of modern society, think again! Extreme Makeovers may be recent, but "braces" date as far back as ancient man!

Early History

Even ancient people wanted straight teeth! According to the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists), archaeologists have discovered mummified ancients with crude metal bands wrapped around individual teeth. To close gaps, it has been surmised that catgut did the work now done by today's orthodontic wire! Later, in 400-500 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle both ruminated about ways to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions. Straight teeth have been on our minds a very long time!

While Greece was in its Golden Age, the Etruscans (the precursors of the Romans) were burying their dead with appliances that were used to maintain space and prevent collapse of the dentition during life. Then in a Roman tomb in Egypt, a researcher found a number of teeth bound with a gold wire -- the first documented ligature wire! At the time of Christ, Aurelius Cornelius Celsus first recorded the treatment of teeth by finger pressure. Despite all this evidence and experimentation, no significant events in orthodontics really occurred until the much later, in around the 1700s (although dentistry as a whole made great advancements in the interim). It should be noted that in Medieval times, specialized barbers often performed dental "operations", extractions, and procedures such as blood-letting. Let's be glad we live in the 21st Century!

Important Breakthroughs

Even before George Washington wore his famous wooden teeth, dentists were thinking about ways to correct bad bites. In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the "The Surgeon Dentist" with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth. Fauchard used a device called a "Bandeau," a horseshoe-shaped piece of precious metal which helped expand the arch. French Dentist Ettienne Bourdet followed Fauchard in 1757 with his book "The Dentist's Art", also devoting a chapter to tooth alignment and appliances. Bourdet was the dentist to the King of France. He further perfected the Bandeau, and is also the first dentist (on record) who recommended extraction of premolars to alleviate crowding. He was also the first to scientifically prove jaw growth. Here's a link to a series of pages with some fascinating illustrations of early expansion devices.

Scottish surgeon John Hunter wrote (among other surgical books) "The Natural History of the Human Teeth" in 1771, clearly describing dental anatomy. Hunter coined the terms bicuspids, cuspids, incisors and molars. His second book, "A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Teeth", described dental pathology. Although teeth straightening and extraction to improve alignment of remaining teeth has been practiced since early times, orthodontics as a science of its own did not really exist until the mid-1800s.

In 1819 Delabarre introduced the wire crib, which marked the birth of contemporary orthodontics. The term orthodontia was coined by Joachim Lafoulon in 1841. Gum elastics were first employed by Maynard in 1843. Tucker was the first to cut rubber bands from rubber tubing in 1850. And in the late 1800s, Eugene Solomon Talbot was the first person to use X-rays for orthodontic diagnosis. But all this was nothing compared to advances in orthodontics in the 20th Century.

Daddy-O (as in Orthodontic)

Historians claim that several men deserve the title of being called "The Father of Orthodontics." Fauchard certainly took orthodontics out of the dark ages, but these men really put maloclussion on the map. One man was Norman W. Kingsley, a dentist, writer, artist, and sculptor. In 1858, he wrote the first article on orthodontics, and in 1880, his book "Treatise on Oral Deformities" was published. The second man who deserves credit was a dentist named J. N. Farrar who wrote two volumes entitled "A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections". Farrar was very good at designing brace appliances, and he was the first to suggest the use of mild force at timed intervals to move teeth.

In America in the early 1900s, Edward H. Angle devised the first simple classification system for malocclusions, which is still used today (Class I, Class II, and so on). His classification system was a way for dentists to describe how crooked teeth are, what way teeth are pointing, and how teeth fit together. Angle contributed significantly to the design of orthodontic appliances, incorporating many simplifications. He founded the first school and college of orthodontics, organized the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901 (which became the AAO in the 1930s), and founded the first orthodontic journal in 1907. A journal and website bearing his name still thrive today. His highly praised reference book, "Malocclusion of the Teeth" went through seven editions. In the wake of all these advancements, the field of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics eventually became a respected dental specialty in its own right.

Other innovations in orthodontics in the late 1800s and early 1900s included the first textbook on orthodontics for students, published by J.J. Guilford in 1889, and the use of rubber elastics, pioneered by Calvin S. Case (some believe it was H. A. Baker).

The First Metal Mouths

What did braces look like a century ago? In the early 1900s, orthodontists used gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum rubber, vulcanite (and occasionally, wood, ivory, zinc, copper, and brass) to form loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures. Fourteen- to 18-karat gold was routinely used for wires, bands, clasps, ligatures, and spurs, as were iridium-platinum bands and arch wires, and platinized gold for brackets. Why gold? It is malleable and easy to shape. Gold had its drawbacks, however -- because of its softness it required frequent adjustments, and it was expensive! Anyway, you guessed it -- these bands wrapped entirely around the each tooth -- the original "metal mouth" was real gold or silver! How's that for bling?

In 1929, the first dental specialty board, the American Board of Orthodontics, was born. On a side note, the first synthetic (nylon)-bristle toothbrush was invented in 1938. Around this time, stainless steel became widely available, but using it for braces was considered somewhat controversial. It wasn't generally accepted as a material for orthodontic treatment until the late 1950s/early 1960s! In addition, you may be surprised to learn that x-rays were not routinely used in orthodontic treatment until the 1950s!

Advancements in the 1970s

Braces continued to wrap around the teeth until the mid 1970s, when direct bonding became a reality. Why did it take so long for dentists to invent the modern bonded bracket? The adhesive! The bonded bracket was actually invented earlier, but the formulation for the adhesive wasn't perfected until almost a decade later. At first, bonded brackets were (of course) made of metal. Like any new method, it took a while for the direct bond bracket to catch on -- which is why some people may remember wearing the old "wrap around" metal braces into the late 1970s.

Around this time, the self-ligating bracket also appeared on the scene. Self-ligating brackets don't need tie wires or elastic ligatures to hold the arch wire onto the bracket -- they are held on by a "trap door" built into each bracket. As early as 1935, the idea of a self-ligating brackets began to take shape. Over the years many designs were patented, but few were commercially available until Ormco created the Edgelock system in 1972. As the 1980s and 1990s progressed, many companies created their own versions of self-ligating brackets and improved upon the idea by offering both passive and active resistance on the arch wire. Nowadays, we have a number of self-ligating choices, such as Orec's Speed Braces, Ormco's Damon System, GAC's In-Ovation, and Adenta's Evolution.

In the 1970s, Earl Bergersen, DDS created the passive Ortho-Tain appliances, which guide jaw growth and help correct orthodontic problems and malocclusions in both children and adults. The Ortho-Tain appliances look like custom plastic mouthguards, and are worn mainly at night, or for only a few hours each day. In many cases, people have been able to correct (or greatly diminish) many types of orthodontic problems with these removable custom-made appliances.

Around 1975, two orthodontists working independently in Japan and the United States started developing their own systems to place braces on the inside surfaces of the teeth -- lingual braces. These "invisible braces" offered people the results of bonded brackets with one big advantage -- they were on the inside of the teeth, so nobody else could see them! In America, the late Dr. Craven Kurz of Beverly Hills California developed the Kurz/Ormco lingual system. In Japan, Professor Kinya Fujita, of Kanagawa Dental University invented his own lingual system, and continues to make great advances in the lingual method.

It takes special training to treat a patient with lingual braces, and many American orthodontists in the 1970s and 1980s were reluctant to use the method -- but orthodontists in other countries readily embraced it, and continued to make advancements with new techniques. Recently, lingual braces have become more popular because technology has made them more comfortable. One example is iBraces, a company which custom-fabricates brackets for a patient's teeth with the aid of digital computer imaging.

Lingual braces were the "invisible" braces of choice until the early 1980s, when "tooth colored" esthetic brackets made from single-crystal sapphire and ceramics came into vogue. Nowadays we also have brackets made from a combination of ceramic and metal -- giving the patient a strength of metal with esthetic look of less noticeable "tooth colored" braces. Recently, a European company even invented a ceramic bracket that is self-ligating!

Invisible Braces via Silicon Valley

As far back as 1945, orthodontists realized that a sequence of removable plastic appliances could move teeth toward a predetermined result. Some orthodontists even made simple plastic "aligner trays" in their offices for minor adjustments. But it took an adult who'd just had braces to take the concept a step further.

Invisalign was the brainchild of Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth, graduate students in Stanford University's MBA program. Wirth had traditional braces in high school (she reportedly hated them). Chishti had finished adult treatment with traditional braces and now wore a clear plastic retainer. He noticed that if he didn't wear his retainer for a few days, his teeth shifted slightly -- but the plastic retainer soon moved his teeth back the desired position. In 1997, he and Wirth applied 3-D computer imaging graphics to the field of orthodontics and created Align Technologies and the Invisalign method. With a boost from ample Silicon Valley venture funding, Align soon took the orthodontic industry by storm. Dentists and other dental companies were skeptical at first, because neither Chishti nor Wirth had any professional dental training. Invisalign braces were first made available to the public in May, 2000 and proved extremely popular with patients. Soon similar products began appearing on the market, made by GAC,
3-M Unitek, Ormco, OrthoClear, and others.

The Future: Technology Continues to Advance

As technology enhances our daily lives, it also continues to advance the science of orthodontics. More and more companies are utilizing digital computer imaging to make orthodontic treatment more precise. The SureSmile system by OraMetrix, for example, takes a detailed 3-D model of a patient’s teeth and helps the orthodontist develop a precise treatment plan for tooth movement. The orthodontist's treatment plan then drives a highly accurate robotic process to customize the arch wires needed for treatment. This often shortens treatment time and gives highly accurate results.

NASA developed one of the late 20th century's most dramatic orthodontic breakthroughs: heat-activated nickel-titanium alloy wires. At room temperature, heat-activated nickel-titanium arch wires are very flexible. As they warm to body temperature they become active and gradually move the teeth in the anticipated direction. Because of their high-tech properties, these wires retain their tooth-moving abilities longer than ordinary metal wires and need less frequent attention from the orthodontist. Many orthodontists now employ heat-activated wires in their treatment plans.

What does all this mean for the orthodontic patient of the future? As companies develop more precise, high-tech materials and methods, your braces will be on for a shorter period of time, be smaller and less visible, result in less discomfort, and give great results. We've sure come a long way from the wrap-around "metal mouth" -- and that's something we can all smile about!

Source: (For original source information please reference this article.)

Adults, Brace Yourself!

September 29th, 2014

Aside from being prominent celebrities, what do Faith Hill, Katherine Heigl, Gwen Stefani, Tom Cruise, Kate Middleton and Katy Perry have in common? They all opted as adults to treat their orthodontic problems with corrective braces, and according to the American Association of Orthodontists, these celebrities are part of a growing trend.

Today, one in every five orthodontic patients is over the age of 18, and many are in their 40s, 50s and beyond. Academy Award-winner Faye Dunaway was 61 years old when she elected to get braces. A report issued by the Harvard Medical School suggests, “Although childhood is the ideal time to make changes in the positioning of the teeth, more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment and coming away with excellent results.”

In addition to boosting your confidence and self-esteem, orthodontics can correct a variety of dental problems, including misaligned teeth, overcrowded teeth, bite abnormalities, and jaw problems. Without proper treatment for these conditions, you could be at higher risk for cavities, gum disease, ear pain, headaches, and chewing and speech problems, and some of these problems worsen as you age. For this reason, braces can be an important part of maintaining your oral health, no matter how old you are.

In the past, many adults would not even consider orthodontic treatment because they could not imagine walking around with a mouth full of metal. Fortunately, however, several options for straightening teeth exist today that are more aesthetic and discreet than traditional stainless steel braces. In some rare cases, only a removable retainer is necessary to make slight changes. In other rare cases, surgery may be necessary. Most often, however, the treatment will consist of braces or aligners, followed by ongoing use of a retainer.


Orthodontic treatments work by applying continuous pressure to your teeth over time to move them slowly into alignment. As the teeth shift, they loosen from the gum line and move into place, and the bone around the teeth also changes shape to support the new positioning. The process is gradual, generally taking between one and three years, because if the teeth move too quickly they could become unstable. There are several different orthodontic appliances available from which to choose.

Conventional Metal Braces—For metal braces, your orthodontist will attach metal brackets to your teeth connected by wires that apply pressure to your teeth to cause the movement needed to move them into proper position. While conventional metal braces are efficient and relatively inexpensive, adults tend to prefer treatments that are less noticeable.

Clear Braces—Ceramic braces are similar to traditional braces, but their brackets are made of clear composite materials or tooth-colored porcelain so only the connecting wires are plainly visible. It is possible to coat the wires with a tooth-colored coating, but coated wires are typically less efficient than uncoated wires so they are not often used. The composite materials of clear braces are weaker and more brittle than metal braces, but this is generally not a significant problem for adults who tend to be more conscientious with their orthodontic investment than younger people. Because clear braces are discreet and more affordable than some other options, they are a popular choice among adults.

Lingual Braces—Lingual braces are custom-made and attached to the back of the teeth, facing the tongue, so they are not visible when you speak and smile. Your orthodontist constructs these braces by making an impression of your mouth and scanning it into a computer program that designs a plan for braces specifically to fit your mouth. The downside of this option is that, since they are on the backside of the teeth, they can interfere with the movement of the tongue, which can be irritating and uncomfortable, and cause difficulty with speech. Because these braces are custom-made and more challenging to adjust than other methods, this is generally the most expensive option.

Clear Acrylic Aligners—Acrylic aligners are clear, removable appliances custom-made from a mold of your mouth that apply pressure to your teeth to move them into alignment. You wear each set for a few weeks, and once your teeth have adjusted, your orthodontist will fit you for a new set. The advantages of aligners are they are nearly invisible, easier to clean than braces, and are removable during eating. The disadvantages are that they can be costly, often take longer to work than traditional braces, and some people still need a short period of regular braces following the aligner treatment. While this type of treatment can be effective for aligning the teeth, it is not effective for correcting bite problems. Additionally, patients of this type of treatment must be significantly motivated and self-disciplined because they face the constant temptation to remove the appliance, which can greatly slow down the treatment process.

Retainers—After the orthodontist removes the braces or completes aligner treatment, the final step of the process is the retainer, an appliance designed to hold the teeth in their new position while the bones around them stabilize. It is critical to wear the retainer as directed to prevent your teeth from regressing to their original positioning.


If you may be interested in orthodontic treatment, there are factors specific to adults to consider going in to the process.

• The bones of adults have stopped growing, so the realignment process may take longer than it does for younger patients.

• Some structural oral changes in adults are not possible without surgery.

• Adults tend to enter the process with pre-existing dental work and conditions so orthodontics can be more complicated than with younger patients. If you wish to receive orthodontic treatment as an adult, you will likely need to start by seeing your general dentist and a periodontist to ensure that factors such as existing dental work, gum disease or other conditions will not adversely affect your treatment.

If you are considering orthodontic care, your first step will be to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist who will recommend a treatment plan and discuss your options with you to determine which might be best for meeting your needs, time frame and budget. Keep in mind that some medical and dental insurance plans cover at least a portion of orthodontic work, so check with your provider regarding your benefits before you initiate the process.

Adults, Brace Yourself!
By Judy Latta

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