Am I Too Old for Orthodontic Treatment?


Did you ever look in a mirror and think to yourself, “Sure wish I could have had braces when I was a kid”? You can’t go back in time, but you can still get the healthy, beautiful smile you’ve always wished was yours. It’s not too late. Orthodontic treatment can be as successful for adults as it is for adolescents. Don’t let your age keep you from consulting an American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) member orthodontist.

Whether you’re 8 or 80, it’s the same physiological process that moves teeth through bone. Adults have denser bone tissue than children, so treatment may take a little longer, but age does not keep teeth from moving.

Adults can have complicated cases, though, for a variety of reasons. They may have fillings, missing teeth, misshapen or worn teeth, or other dental disease. These are conditions well within your orthodontist’s realm of treatment experience. This is just one reason it’s so important to make sure you are being treated by orthodontist. Your orthodontist has years of formal education in orthodontics after graduating from dental school. As an AAO orthodontic specialist, your doctor has the education and expertise you need to manage your orthodontic care and reach your best possible result.

To move your teeth in their ideal positions, your orthodontist will use an “appliance,” braces or aligners, for example, to deliver controlled forces that gently and predictably reposition teeth. There has been a revolution in orthodontic appliances – much of it driven by adults who want straight teeth, but want to be inconspicuous about their treatment. Today’s options include tooth-colored braces, tiny but more traditional metal braces, gold-colored braces, braces that go behind the teeth, and braces that aren’t braces at all, but are a series of plastic-like trays (“aligners”) that move teeth a little at a time. Not every type of appliance is suitable for correction of every kind of orthodontic problem. This is another reason to make sure you are being treated by orthodontist – selecting the right appliance to correct your problem. Orthodontists have access to the full range of appliances, and more than anyone else in the dental profession, orthodontists know which appliance is right for an individual patient’s care.

Treatment lasts an average of 22 months. During that time, orthodontist visits are scheduled about every six weeks to eight. It’s a comparatively small investment of time that pays big dividends in improved dental health, better function (biting, chewing), the ability to more easily keep your teeth clean, and higher self-confidence.

It’s so heart-warming to witness the first time an adult patient sees his/her new smile. Sometimes there are tears through smiles, and sometimes pronouncements of outright joy. The only regret expressed is that this step was not taken sooner.

The opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile has not passed you by. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life hiding your smile. Just because you didn’t have orthodontic treatment when you were a youngster doesn’t prevent you from doing something about it now. Your age doesn’t matter. You can have the smile you’ve always wanted. It starts with consulting an AAO orthodontist.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists - only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.


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