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Adult Orthodontics

An increasing number of people seeking orthodontics are adults, and provided you have strong teeth and gums, there is no upper age limit. Sometimes adults will have had orthodontic treatment as children but have seen their teeth shift with age. Others may have had orthodontic problems during childhood but were unable to have treatment at that stage.

What Are the Benefits of Adult Orthodontics?

Aligning your teeth can create a more aesthetically pleasing smile and improve your ability to brush and floss thoroughly, especially if you have overlapping and crowded teeth. Correcting problems with your bite can reduce excessive wear on your teeth, protecting the longevity of your smile.

Sometimes poorly aligned teeth can place pressure on the jaw joints, and realigning these teeth can provide a comfortable and pain-free bite so you can eat and smile more easily. Orthodontics can:

  • address issues caused by missing teeth
  • close or reduce spaces between teeth
  • increase the amount of room for dental bridges or dental implants to restore missing teeth

To schedule an adult orthodontic consultation at our Manhattan’s Upper East Side office, call us at (212) 535-4111 today. Whether you are an adult looking to treat irregularities in the teeth and jaws for yourself or your family member, experienced orthodontists Dr. Gibbs and Dr. Kaplan can assist you in finding an orthodontic treatment that is right for you.

Why Seek Treatment as an Adult?

During childhood, not everyone is lucky enough to have orthodontic treatment, while others will wear braces but will see the results decline as they get older and teeth shift position. Whatever the reason, there is no need to put up with crooked teeth as an adult. Orthodontists are seeing an increasing interest in treatment from adults, and some will choose to have braces at the same time as their children.

This increased interest is at least partly due to the introduction of newer orthodontic systems like Invisalign and other braces that are far more discreet and virtually invisible once in the mouth. They are the ideal option for adults who feel too self-conscious to wear traditional metal braces or who have careers where they need to interact with the public or other professionals regularly.

What Problems Can Be Remediated with Orthodontic Treatments for Adult?

Orthodontic treatment can correct all sorts of different problems, including:

  • Overbite – the upper jaw bites too far forward of the lower jaw
  • Crossbite – the upper back teeth bite inside the lower teeth on one or both sides
  • Open bite – the front teeth do not bite together properly
  • Underbite – the lower teeth bite in front of the upper teeth
  • Overcrowding or improperly spaced teeth. Orthodontic treatment can bring back misaligned teeth into line, and reposition those that may be rotated or angled incorrectly

Ultimately orthodontic treatment for adults aims to provide patients with a nicely balanced and fully functional bite where all the teeth meet together correctly without placing any stress on the teeth or jaw joints.

However, sometimes extensive orthodontic treatment isn’t needed as people can have more cosmetically oriented problems only affecting the front teeth. In this case, major changes to the position or angle of teeth may not be necessary, and orthodontists can use cosmetic braces. Instead of correcting the position of front and back teeth, cosmetically oriented braces only concentrate on moving the front teeth that are visible when you smile or talk. Therefore, treatment is faster and may only take weeks to complete. The speed of treatment and its simplicity is also reflected in the price.

Cosmetic braces can be a good option for anyone who wants to improve the appearance of their teeth more conservatively, which can be preferable to grinding down or reshaping teeth in preparation for more invasive treatments like crowns or veneers.

Who Can Have Adult Orthodontics?

If you are considering adult orthodontics, then make an appointment to see a good orthodontist locally, such as Dr. Gibbs and Dr. Kaplan. They will be able to examine your teeth, check your bite and the relationship between your upper and lower jaws, and assess the problems that require correction.

During the appointment, to evaluate your oral health more closely before devising a suitable treatment plan, your orthodontist may take:

  • photographs
  • x-rays
  • dental impressions

As a general rule, you need to have teeth that are reasonably strong and free from disease, and you shouldn’t have any signs of gum disease to qualify for treatment. If you decide to go ahead, the next step is to consider which type of brace will suit you best. It’s almost certain that your orthodontist will have some good recommendations, so listen to them carefully. They can advise you on the solution that will provide the best results most safely and effectively.

Discreetly Straightening Your Smile

Many adults are concerned their braces will be highly visible, but modern braces are designed to be discreet and include 2 options:

  • Fixed braces can have ceramic brackets that are powered by very thin wires.
  • Removable braces such as Invisalign are very easy to care for and highly suitable for more moderate orthodontic problems.

While removable braces may be the most appealing option, fixed braces can provide excellent results, and your dentist may recommend the solution if they feel this will give you a better treatment outcome.

Invisalign Braces

You may already know somebody who has had Invisalign treatment, and it’s almost certain that you have seen others wearing Invisalign aligners, even if you weren’t aware. The great thing about Invisalign is that:

  • the system uses clear plastic aligners
  • the aligners are very thin
  • they are relatively comfortable to wear
  • once in the mouth, are quite difficult to see

You may just be aware they are there because they can create a slight halo effect around teeth, but you would only notice if you were looking.

When you first see your orthodontist for Invisalign, they can assess your bite to determine if treatment is the right choice. Next, they will scan your teeth, creating a digital 3-D model of your mouth. Invisalign produces special software that utilizes this scan, allowing your orthodontist to plan treatment step by step until your teeth are in the correct positions and are completely straight. One great aspect of Invisalign treatment is that you can become more involved with the process. You get to see digital images showing how your teeth will look after treatment and can decide if you like the results or wish to change anything, even before you start to wear the first set of aligners.

With Invisalign, you just need to wear the aligners most of the time. Ideally, you would only take them out when you want something to eat and drink, other than water, or when you need to brush and floss your teeth. It is important to make sure they are worn for at least 22 hours each day for the treatment to progress as planned. You don’t really need to make any changes to your diet, and because you take the aligners out before mealtimes, you can eat whatever you want. There is no need to change how you brush and floss your teeth, although you will need to brush your teeth more frequently, for example after you have something to eat and before you replace your aligners.

Every two weeks, you chuck away your current set of aligners and start wearing the next set of aligners provided by your orthodontist. Treatment continues like this until your teeth are straight. Although you will need to see your orthodontist regularly, these appointments should be quite quick. They are simply to make sure treatment is progressing as your orthodontist has planned and provide additional sets of aligners when needed.

Fixed Braces

If you opt for fixed braces, the brackets are cemented onto your teeth for the duration of treatment and are attached to thin archwires. The great thing about fixed braces is that they are working continuously to straighten your teeth, and there is no need to worry you will forget to wear the braces.

Although you will need to spend a bit more time cleaning around the brackets and wires when you brush and floss your teeth, there are plenty of tools to help you do this effectively. Also, you can be sure your orthodontist will show you how to clean your teeth properly. You will also need to change your diet slightly. Foods that are very hard or crunchy, or very sticky could damage the brackets and wires and are best avoided during treatment. If you do want to enjoy a crunchy apple or carrot, for example, it is best to cut it up into smaller pieces so you can chew it using your back teeth only.

If you break a wire or a bracket comes loose, make an appointment to see your orthodontist as soon as you can to have the brace professionally repaired. Delaying the repair could affect the outcome of treatment.

What to Expect During Treatment?

Whether you opt for fixed or removable braces, it can take a few days to get used to wearing these appliances. Some level of discomfort is expected with all treatment, typically only lasting a day or two after you begin wearing a new set of aligners or have fixed braces adjusted. Modern orthodontics is more comfortable than ever and is designed to place gentle forces on teeth. Good oral care is essential and especially when wearing fixed braces. Caring for braces isn’t difficult, and your orthodontist will show you exactly how to clean around brackets and wires or care for removable aligners.

Once you complete treatment, you will need to wear retainers for a while to ensure your newly straightened teeth stay in the correct positions. Sometimes these retainers must be worn all the time, while other times, you may only need to wear them overnight.


Generally, it’s better to be guided by your orthodontist’s opinion on which brace will provide the best results. Dr. Gibbs and the team of the most trusted and among the best-rated orthodontists can explain how each possible system works, the advantages and disadvantages, and why they feel a particular brace is the right choice for you.

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