Braces for adults? This works out!

Adults can also have their teeth straightened with braces. The correction, however, requires a lot of patience

For an even smile: braces correct misaligned teeth

© iStock / beautyfullLotus, Thinkstock / iStockphoto

Even set of teeth with teeth that are standing next to each other is not a matter of course, but is feasible - even if you have outgrown the teenage age for decades. In addition, wearing braces has long since lost the blemish of imperfection, and not just among the younger generation. "The desire to have malpositions corrected in adulthood is expressed more often," observes the dentist Dr. Sabine Köhler from Aachen. "Often that is also possible."

Inconspicuous braces for adults

Sentences like "I always wanted to have that done" or "I'll treat myself to that" can sometimes be heard from adult mouths with small plates, so-called brackets, sticking to their teeth. While these often have a metallic shine in adolescents, older clasp wearers usually prefer the tooth-colored and therefore less conspicuous variant. Almost invisible wires can also be pulled through there.

If brackets are attached to the inside of the teeth, as is the case with the lingual technique, they are even completely hidden from the other person when you smile. However, this technique can initially interfere with speaking until you get used to it.

Aligners - comfortable but not always suitable

The denture correction with removable plastic splints is particularly inconspicuous. The so-called aligners are tailor-made as a set and move the teeth step by step into the target position previously planned on the computer. The transparent rails are almost invisible to the person opposite. They can be removed for eating and dental care. Aligners are not suitable for all malpositions, which is why a specialist dentist for orthodontics should accompany the treatment.

Corrected teeth: not only beautiful, but also healthy

Adults expect simply beautiful teeth primarily from orthodontic treatment. But not only the appearance benefits, it can also be beneficial in the long term for the health and preservation of your own teeth.

"If the teeth are optimally positioned in the dentition, it works as it should. If, for example, the position of the upper and lower jaw is not in harmony, this can lead to overload," says Sabine Köhler and emphasizes: "In addition, the teeth are cared for better if the spaces in between can also be easily reached. " This can not only prevent tooth decay, but above all the inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis, which is widespread in adults. It is problematic if there is already an inflammation of the gums. Then there is the risk that it will be intensified by the desired tooth movements. This can lead to the loss of teeth. Inflammation of the gums must therefore first be treated and healed before orthodontic treatment is even considered.

Social pressure for self-optimization

Sabine Köhler is critical of the fact that even front teeth have meanwhile become almost a social "must" and that treatments are carried out without keeping an eye on the medical consequences. "The pressure for self-optimization does not stop at the row of teeth. From a medical point of view, however, a row of teeth that does not look harmonious can also be very well adapted in their functionality by nature," says the dentist.

When correcting the position of the teeth - regardless of whether with fixed or removable appliances or the almost invisible aligners - it must be ensured that, after the treatment, not only a beautiful row of anterior teeth but also the posterior teeth are in good functional interlocking. "This is where the greatest challenge in treating adults is," explains Sabine Köhler. "If the harmony of the side teeth is disturbed by external influences, such as those in orthodontics, this can lead to far-reaching functional problems that manifest themselves in tension in the jaw muscles, stress on the joints and headaches."

Professor Angelika Stellzig-Eisenhauer is the director of the Polyclinic for Orthodontics in Würzburg

© W & B / Bert Bostelmann

Smoking damages the jawbone

"Smokers have an increased risk of bone loss. That is why giving up smoking is an essential requirement," says Professor Angelika Stellzig-Eisenhauer, Director of the Orthodontic Clinic at the University Hospital of Würzburg.

The correction of misaligned teeth in adulthood is otherwise hardly any different from the treatment of teeth for teenagers. However, the techniques are partly different. For example, if teeth have already been weakened by bone loss, less force is used to move them with little risk. "You have to support yourself on other teeth. If these are also affected by bone loss, it may be necessary to absorb the forces that occur with special screws in the bone," explains Angelika Stellzig-Eisenhauer.

Fixed braces for individual badly fitting teeth

As a rule, the orthodontist uses a fixed appliance with her patients: "In this way, I can move certain teeth or groups of teeth in a more targeted manner than with loose braces or splints." Fixed braces in parts of the jaw are often sufficient if individual teeth are crooked. Sometimes only one jaw is worked on.

In the case of tooth gaps, it happens after some time that neighboring teeth sometimes "tip in". They then have to be straightened up again before a replacement such as a bridge or an implant can be optimally fitted. Experts refer to this initial situation as preprosthetic orthodontics. "Under certain circumstances, a gap at the side can also be closed by moving the rear teeth forward. This means that you can do without dentures," reports Angelika Stellzig-Eisenhauer.

Tooth correction can be expensive

The costs depend on the duration and effort of the treatment, the material used and the aftercare. Complete treatment, which often takes two to three years, can cost several thousand euros or more. Adults usually pay for orthodontic therapies themselves.

The not naturally perfect set of teeth requires not only consistent cooperation and perseverance but also willingness to take: about every four weeks there are checks at the practitioner’s. When the braces are readjusted, it pulls, pushes and hurts the teeth for a few days afterwards. This is normal, after all, these are moved in the jaw. If you wear braces, oral hygiene is also more time-consuming and complex. After each meal, leftover food should be thoroughly removed.

After the treatment: stabilize the teeth permanently

At the end of the treatment, the result should be permanently stabilized, for example with a wire, a so-called retainer, or a splint that is glued to the teeth from behind.

"Working out the result is one thing, but keeping it is just as important. This is what practitioners and patients often forget," says dentist Sabine Köhler. She also looks after patients who are wearing braces for the second time. "You have to be clear: teeth very often have a tendency to move, but to what extent is difficult to predict."