Orthodontics is possible, even if you're no longer a teenager. These days, more and more adults are discovering the benefits of orthodontic care in later life.
Age should not be considered a barrier to enhancing the appearance, health and function of your smile with orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics in adulthood may range from simply straightening slightly crowded teeth (to improve the look of the smile and make hygiene easier), to being but one corrective element of a complete smile makeover or full mouth rehabilitation program. Here, the aim may be to realign teeth before reconstructions such as veneers, crowns, bridges or dental implants are done to repair a significantly compromised smile.
Advances in modern orthodontics have enabled greater flexibility with treatments. Patients concerned about the look of conventional braces may now be suited to alternative invisible treatment options such as Invisalign™(clear aligners) or Incognito® lingual braces (braces on the back of teeth) to help conceal the appearance of orthodontic treatment. Also, modern treatment programs may be accelerated so results are still achieved safely yet faster than previously thought possible.
Referral To Specialist Orthodontists
Accurate skeletal and dental diagnosis is key to identifying the correct treatment pathway and a successful orthodontic outcome. An appropriate post treatment retention program will also help minimize the likelihood of any treatment relapse (teeth re-crowding).
At our practice, we choose to refer all our orthodontic patients to trusted specialist Orthodontists who utilize the latest advances in technology and treatment protocols. Orthodontists understand diagnosis, treatment and retention to an advanced level. They are best at being able to achieve the most stable aesthetic and functional results for the long term in adult patients.
Preparing for Orthodontic Treatment
Your mouth should be healthy prior to commencing orthodontic treatment. This is important because orthodontic treatment may make both dental treatment and oral hygiene more challenging.
If dental problems arise during orthodontics, your treatment plan could be interrupted or delayed. Also, it is vital that teeth are not weakened or damaged because of unattended dental problems, poor hygiene or poor dietary choices during the treatment period. Poor oral care during this time could affect the strength and final appearance of your dental enamel and smile, leading to permanent, unsightly enamel "scars" termed white spot lesions (enamel demineralisation), weaker teeth and possibly more corrective dental care in the future.
Gum problems such as soreness, shrinkage and periodontitis (gum disease) could occur during orthodontics if oral hygiene was less than optimal and not corrected prior to commencing treatment. Mild to moderate undiagnosed gum disease could also turn into an advanced issue leading to tooth loss (if this condition was not stabilized prior to the start of orthodontic treatment). Orthodontics should therefore be supported with regular general dental care throughout the treatment period.
Before Commencing Orthodontic Treatment
At Melbourne Dentistry, we recommend a comprehensive dental examination with radiographs (to Bite-Wing standard) prior to orthodontic referral. General dental needs can then be addressed prior to starting orthodontic treatment. Dental decay can be restored promptly and preventive therapies initiated. We can teach you how to best clean and maintain your teeth between professional visits.
For some adults, where gum disease is evident, this condition should be stabilized prior to commencing orthodontic care and could involve referral to a specialist Periodontist.
During Orthodontic Care
At our practice, we believe a professionally advised oral hygiene and remineralisation program should support patients at regular intervals throughout orthodontic treatment. Also, protecting your smile with a suitable sports mouth guard while playing sports is essential throughout your orthodontic program.
At Melbourne Dentistry, we can schedule review appointments at appropriate intervals, to support you throughout orthodontic treatment and help you achieve a beautiful and healthy smile.
On Completing Orthodontics
When orthodontic treatment is completed, we recommend a thorough dental examination to check all tooth surfaces (again, to Bite-Wing standard). Teeth should also be professionally cleaned, ensuring any residual orthodontic cement is removed. Remineralising therapies can be prescribed to strengthen enamel surfaces bonded during orthodontic treatment. Ongoing hygiene advice will also help you maintain health while wearing fixed retainers.
After orthodontic care, patients often consider further treatments such as bleaching teeth, dental crowns or veneers to improve the look and colour of newly straightened teeth. We can advise you regarding options to manage any additional aesthetic concerns.