Crooked teeth: What older adults need to know
Older adults may develop crooked or shifting teeth for several reasons, and you may wonder if your age prevents you from getting traditional orthodontic treatment. But braces are not just for kids. In fact, one in three orthodontic patients is an adult.1 But because adults and children have different oral health needs, older patients have different considerations when it comes to teeth alignment.
Crooked teeth: It’s more than just cosmetic
Most people think crooked teeth is exclusively a cosmetic issue, but it’s more than that. Crooked teeth can trap harmful bacteria in the mouth, and it’s much harder to floss between teeth that are crammed together. An overgrowth of bacteria can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, and these oral health problems are linked to chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Teeth can also move over time, which can affect your bite. When your bite is misaligned, it can cause jaw pain, headaches, and even affect your ability to close your mouth properly – and this can harm your quality of life.
Tooth alignment: Special considerations for older adults
The first step to straightening your teeth is to talk to your dentist. Adults who are considering bracing need to have good gum health, so your dentist will examine your gums to determine if they are healthy enough for bracing. Braces can worsen existing gum problems, so having a clean bill of gum health is important before pursuing this treatment.
If you are healthy enough for braces, you will need to see an orthodontist for a consultation. After X-rays and an examination, your orthodontist will develop a bracing treatment plan for you. This will include an estimated timeframe for how long you’ll be in braces. Note that older adults often require longer treatment times than children or young adults.
Nowadays, you have a few types of braces to choose from, including metal braces, ceramic braces and clear aligners. Different braces can vary widely in terms of cost, length of treatment required and cosmetic appeal, and your orthodontist will go over the pros and cons of each type as it relates to your specific alignment issue.
Depending on the type of braces you get, wearing them will likely take some adjustment and may be uncomfortable at times. You may notice discomfort in your teeth, jaw and other areas of your mouth. If wearing braces becomes truly bothersome, talk to your orthodontist about what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to aligner discomfort, and when you can expect to get some relief.
Staying on top of your appointments with your orthodontist is crucial to ensuring that your teeth are responding appropriately to the treatment. But don’t forget: Although your orthodontist will manage your tooth alignment, you still need to see your dentist for twice-yearly cleanings and preventive oral health care.
Getting prepared: Know your benefits and pick a provider
Before moving forward with orthodontic treatment, it’s important you understand your orthodontic coverage included in your dental insurance plan. You can call a Delta Dental of Iowa customer service member to review your plan to help you understand your coverage and out-of-pocket costs.
You should also confirm that your orthodontist is in-network before your initial consultation. Seeing an in-network provider will help you realize the most savings from your treatment. In-network providers offer the lowest prices for their services, and you can rest assured you’re getting quality treatment because all network providers undergo quality reviews by Delta Dental of Iowa.
There’s no age limit on feeling great about yourself and having confidence in your smile. If you’re concerned about your crooked or shifting teeth, talk to your dentist to explore treatment options.
1. American Association of Orthodontists
American Association of Orthodontists
Seniors Lifestyle Magazine