Would you be surprised to learn that one-fourth of people who are in treatment to straighten teeth are adults?
Apparently, the benefits of properly aligned teeth have gained due recognition in recent years. While the number of teens in braces has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, the number of adults in orthodontic treatment rose almost 40% between 1996 to 2015. And, there seems to be no slow down in sight.
The power of an appealing smile in the U.S. has taken on its own persona. Other than make-up, cosmetic dentistry represents the largest non-surgical beauty industry. In one study, 38% of Americans stated they would decline a second date with someone with crooked teeth. The study also showed the same percentage perceived that those with straight teeth are more intelligent.
While beautiful smiles have been known to enhance facial appearance while boosting self-esteem and self-confidence, they can come at a steep price. For a smile makeover (porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns applied to teeth most visible in a smile), costs can easily reach $12,000 and above.
While it is far more economical to move your natural teeth into their proper positions for a more appealing smile, there are health benefits to doing so as well. Straight teeth are easier to keep clean. Crowded, crooked teeth form tight angles that allow debris and food particles to accumulate. These tight nooks make brushing more difficult, providing a breeding ground for oral bacteria.
As oral bacteria multiply, a sticky film known as plaque forms. When not thoroughly removed, it can form cement hard colonies of bacteria known as tartar, or calculus. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away and requires the use of special tools by dental professionals to remove.
These hardened masses may seem dormant but are actually thriving colonies of bacteria that attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. As they continue to thrive and reproduce, the damage can result in cavities and periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease caused by infectious bacteria. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S. and affects nearly 47% of the population.
Another bonus of properly-aligned teeth is their role in keeping the TMJ (jaw joints) in healthy position. The jaw joints are located just in front of the ears. Proper bite alignment aids these joints in moving fluidly in their sockets. When misaligned teeth disrupt the ease of jaw joint movement, the result is typically stress and strain on the joints.
When stressed or strained, a domino effect tends to radiate out in a number of ways. TMJ disorder can lead to migraines, frequent headaches, sore jaw joints, difficulty opening the mouth fully, worn or chipped teeth from night-time clenching or grinding, ear ringing, jaw popping and dizziness.
For adolescents in braces, many proudly draw attention to their treatment with colored bands. However, adults often feel awkward when it comes to wearing wires and brackets. This method of realignment also makes eating difficult, creates challenges with oral hygiene and is physically uncomfortable. For adults in social and business settings, traditional braces can also cause discomposure.
Fortunately, today’s dentistry offers an effective, comfortable and affordable alternative to the challenges associated with braces. Invisalign is an ‘invisable’ tooth realignment system that uses custom-made molds to gently ease teeth into proper positions. There are no brackets or wires, so the gums and lips are not subject to sore spots or tears. The molds are nearly undetectable, so patients avoid uneasiness when speaking or smiling.
As a dentist, I’m especially pleased that Invisalign helps patients be more thorough with their oral hygiene while in treatment. Since the molds are removable for eating and brushing, you can eat the foods you want and properly clean your teeth without the brushing and floss-threading challenges required for traditional braces.
We offer Invisalign for both teens and adults. However, we’ve seen that Invisalign is most appealing for adults, especially those who wore braces in their teen years and have experienced shifting over the years. The Invisalign process eases teeth back to their proper positions simply and comfortably.
Invisalign isn’t appropriate for all situations, however. Some bite realignment requires the more-involved process of traditional orthodontics. For these needs, we have an orthodontic specialist on staff. Dr. Jerry Wesley is an Orthodontist who can provide traditional realignment with braces. He and I are both certified Invisalign providers.
Let’s discuss the option best for you. Begin by calling 586-739-2155 to schedule a no-charge exam and consultation. I will explain the process and determine if Invisalign is appropriate for the degree of realignment you need. During this time, we can also discuss payment plans, many with no down payment required and interest-free.