Braces and orthodontic care in general are most often associated with teenagers. It’s true that teens as an age group make up the biggest number of orthodontic patients, but they’re certainly not the only demographic receiving treatment. Younger kids can benefit from orthodontic care, and so too can adults. But there are some misconceptions and myths about adult orthodontic treatment that sometimes prevent grownups from getting treatment that can greatly improve their quality of life.
Orthodontists treat a variety of bite problems, and adults can suffer from any of them, whether they were never addressed in adolescence or they developed later in life. And they’re often more severe in grownups than in kids, getting worse over time. They can cause significant self-consciousness and even self-esteem problems, as well as discomfort, pain, and other complications. For example, bite problems can interfere with effective tooth brushing and increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, make it difficult to bite or chew properly, cause speech or breathing difficulties, lead to excessive tooth wear or mouth injuries, and more.
So, if you’re a grownup with a bite problem that interferes with your oral health or quality of life, don’t let these myths about adult orthodontic treatment keep you from getting treatment.
Misconceptions About Adult Orthodontic Care
- Myth: You can be too old for orthodontic treatment. This just isn’t true. Yes, some bite problems are a quicker fix earlier on, but anyone of any age can receive orthodontic care that successfully addresses their bite problems and the associated complications.
- Myth: You’ll be the only adult being seen at your orthodontist’s office. The greatly increased use of clear aligners has made it a lot harder to spot people who are undergoing orthodontic treatment—especially among adults. But rest assured, there are plenty of them out there. The American Association of Orthodontics even says that 1 in 3 orthodontic patients are adults.
- Myth: Orthodontic care isn’t important once you’re an adult. If you don’t consider your misalignment a cosmetic concern, that’s great! But as mentioned in the introduction, bite problems can cause a variety of health issues. If you’re not experiencing any of them yet, that doesn’t mean they won’t develop. In particular, long-term risks like tooth decay and gum disease from inhibited brushing and flossing, tooth wear, and even systemic health effects due to inadequate oral hygiene are a concern.
- Myth: Adult orthodontic care hurts. There’s usually some discomfort at the very beginning of orthodontic treatment, and often a little when adjustments are made. However, these periods are not constant or long lasting, and they don’t generally exceed mild discomfort. Plus, there are simple ways to manage it. Treatment is no more painful for adults than for kids, and new technologies have even reduced the typical amount and duration of discomfort.
- Myth: Everyone will know you’re getting orthodontic treatment. As mentioned above, clear aligners have greatly reduced the visibility of orthodontic care. While they’re not a suitable option for all patients, many adults can use them, and they’re basically invisible.
- Myth: Adult orthodontic care takes years to complete. Many adults are under the mistaken impression that they’ll have to wear braces for something like 5 years, or possibly even longer. While it’s true that the average adult’s treatment is slightly longer than the average teen’s treatment, it’s nowhere near this long. Most grownups wear braces for 1 to 2 years.