January 17th, 2017
A record number of adults are seeking orthodontic treatment according to a recent study by the American Association of Orthodontists. Of course improved oral health is one of the obvious goals, but according to the research, adults also report “improvements in their personal and professional lives” after completing treatment.
The number of adults with misaligned teeth is comparable to the number of children and teens, and there are a number of reasons why more and more adults are seeking treatment:
- Adults are often pleasantly surprised when they learn about the innovative technology available today such as, Esthetic braces (ceramic) invisible braces (Incognito) and clear aligners (Invisalign and Clear Aligner Therapy).
- Adults who did not have access to orthodontic treatment as a child or teenager, are also surprised to find out about the affordable payment plans and the willingness of the staff – like ours at Brazos Valley Orthodontists – to work with them on individual needs and options.
- Adults are realizing that even if they had braces as a child, they may need them again. Some people have mouths that just change naturally, and some need orthodontia due to changes in oral health or trauma.
Although teeth are the hardest part of our bodies – even harder than bone – they are not impervious to the consequences of time and aging. Even when you practice the most diligent oral hygiene routine, there are some unavoidable changes over time that can cause malocclusion. Let’s take a look at three of the most common causes of alignment issues in adulthood:
Mesial drift might sound like something you expect to hear in geology class, but it’s actually an evolutionary phenomenon that happens in your mouth. Over time, as we age, teeth tend to shift toward the center of the face and head. Scientists aren’t really certain about the reason this happens, but they suspect it was probably useful in prehistoric times when humans really put their teeth to the test by using them as tools, not just for chewing their food. As a result, tooth loss was common. To compensate for the resulting spaces, teeth would shift forward to seal the space. In those days, of course, life expectancy was maybe 40 years. Today, we are lucky to live twice as long, or even longer – and thanks to modern dental techniques and oral hygiene practices – we keep our natural teeth for our whole lives. With the exception of someone who has extra space between teeth, there is no benefit for mesial shifting, except to annoy us.
Most people first notice the effects of mesial shifting on their lower front teeth, which can become crooked and crowded. Sometimes this change is hardly noticeable, but sometimes it can be significant, and compromise your ability to keep your teeth properly flossed and cleaned. This can, of course lead to periodontal disease and bone loss.
As we age, we also experience bone loss, which can make gums recede. This also leads to shifting teeth, and again, it’s usually most noticeable on the bottom lower teeth, which are thinner and tend to wear out faster. This can start happening as early as your 20s, although most of us don’t experience until middle age or later.
People with osteoporosis – a disease that compromises bone density – have higher risks of tooth loss and mobility issues that can obviously affect the alignment of the teeth.
We often think of repetitive stress injuries affecting joints like the knees, wrists or shoulders, but they can also have detrimental affects on your teeth and oral health. Grinding, also called bruxism, is one of the more common of these. Most of us probably clinch our teeth on occasion without issue, but when grinding is severe, it can cause a myriad of problems that can affect your teeth, your gums and your jaw. Because the lower jaw is forced forward during grinding, it puts pressure on the upper teeth and, after time, can push the upper arch out of alignment. This results in protruding or crooked teeth. If you suspect you may suffer from bruxism – which often happens during sleep – come and talk to Dr. Watson or Dr. Gardner.
There are a number of solutions to get to the root (pun intended) of the grinding problem, as well as for returning your smile to its best.
The bottom line is that you are never too old to straighten your teeth. If you have any questions about your oral health, or the possibilities and promise of orthodontia, please give us a call.