Can Adults Get Orthodontic Treatment?

Orthodontic treatment isn't just for teens anymore. Today, one in four orthodontic patients is an adult, and leaving misaligned teeth untreated can lead to other dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and difficulty chewing. Orthodontic treatment can improve the bite, make teeth fit better, and decrease the risk of future dental issues regardless of age. Braces work by slowly moving the teeth to align them and create a better base for them, according to Isabel Sustegui-Mursuli, a doctor of dental surgery in Chicago who often recommends orthopedic appliances for adults.

Dental insurance may cover some of the costs of braces, but some plans don't pay for orthodontic care if you're over 18 years old. Delta Dental recommends asking your orthodontist for a pre-treatment quote to get an idea of your expenses. In addition to using any dental insurance coverage you may have and any Medicaid or Medicare benefits you may be eligible for, ask your orthodontist about payment plans they may offer. Wearing Invisalign or braces as an adult can make your smile look fantastic and may even take years off your appearance.

However, dentists and orthodontists probably won't recommend braces for adults if they have significant gum disease, tooth decay, or multiple cavities. The orthodontist achieves this by attaching mechanical devices or appliances to the teeth to gently push them in the desired direction. Adults also sometimes want braces for aesthetic reasons if they're not happy with their smile, according to Robert Berry, a doctor of dental surgery and founder of Mountain Aire Dentistry in Broomfield, Colorado. Braces can have significant benefits when it comes to treating dental conditions such as an irregular bite that can cause jaw problems or gaps between teeth that can affect gum health, allowing adults to keep their teeth in good condition for decades to come. If you have dental insurance that covers orthodontic appliances for adults, that usually means it covers all orthodontic appliances and not just metal ones.

Some types of aligners may be a cheaper alternative to braces because they don't require a dentist or orthodontist to place them. While some orthopedic appliances for adults are used to achieve a better smile, their function is not just cosmetic, he adds. Some orthodontists offer a device called a lingual appliance which attaches to the back of the teeth so that the brackets and wires cannot be seen when you smile. In fact, one in four orthodontic patients is an adult according to the American Association of Orthodontists.

Callie Bawcombe
Callie Bawcombe

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