Posts for: August, 2013
As the Baby Boomer generation moves into its 60s, more and more of us are concerned with looking younger. We do it with vitamins, diet, exercise, makeup, cosmetic surgery, and yes, even with cosmetic dentistry.
In recent years we have learned a lot about how aging affects the soft tissues and bones of your face. This has led to an approach to orthodontics that considers not only the teeth and jaws, but also the continuing growth of the bones and soft tissues of the face.
We used to think that growth stopped when people reached their late teens or early 20s. However, recent studies have shown that some kinds of growth continue throughout a person's lifetime. Your bones and facial structures change as much between the ages of 25 and 42 as they do between 18 and 25.
As you age your facial profile flattens, your nose becomes more prominent, the lower part of your face becomes shorter, and your lips become thinner. By studying these changes we have learned to consider them when planning orthodontic treatment. Modern orthodontics treats the entire face, not just the teeth.
The science of orthodontics is dedicated to slowly moving the teeth within the jaws to better functional and aesthetic positions, using standard braces or clear aligners. Sometimes the upper and lower jaws are so far out of alignment that more extreme treatment is needed. In such cases orthognathic (from ortho, meaning straight and gnathos, meaning jaw) surgery may be required to achieve the best results. Orthognathic surgery was once considered a drastic procedure, but it has become easier to manage during and following surgery and is now considered a more normal treatment option, like a facelift. Since the nose becomes more prominent as part of the aging process, the surgery is sometimes combined with rhinoplasty, or reshaping of the nose.
This new approach to orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry — taking into consideration the normal changes that occur as a person's face ages throughout life — requires teamwork among a general dentist, an orthodontist, and an oral surgeon. The results are a long-lasting change that holds back the clock on aging.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Understanding Aging Makes Beauty Timeless.”
Lashinda Demus holds the U.S record in the 400 meter hurdles, with a time of 52.47 seconds, the third fastest ever recorded. While her twin 5-year-old boys cheered her on, she brought home a silver medal from the 2012 London Olympics. But when it comes to her full set of upper and lower braces, there's no silver to be seen!
Demus is a top-ranked competitor, a wife and a mom — and an adult who is currently in orthodontic treatment. With her orthodontist's approval, she chose clear ceramic braces. These are just one of the treatment options available to adult patients, many of whom prefer a less noticeable style of orthodontic appliance.
As many as three-quarters of adults are thought to have some form of orthodontic problem. Common issues include teeth that are crowded too closely together, or ones that have drifted too far apart after an extraction or other tooth loss. It is believed that straightened teeth are easier to clean and better for chewing — they can also improve an adult's social life, and even his or her career prospects!
Some grown-ups may hesitate to consider orthodontic treatment because they remember the “railroad tracks” they saw in junior high school. In fact, there have been many changes in orthodontic appliances in the past few years. Two popular choices for adults are colorless braces (the kind Demus wears) and clear orthodontic aligners.
Colorless ceramic braces are made of high-tech composite materials. They resist staining, and are less noticeable because their translucent appearance blends with the teeth. Often, a single wire is the only part that's plainly visible. Sometimes it's even possible to place them on the lingual (tongue) side of the teeth.
Clear aligners are an alternative to braces that are available to adults and teens. Instead of wires and attachments, these consist of a series of transparent, removable trays that are placed over the teeth and worn 20 hours per day. Over a period of six months to two years, the teeth are gradually straightened as you progress from one computer-designed tray to the next. Best of all, you can remove the trays completely to clean your teeth, and for important occasions.
Which one is right for you? It depends. While aligners have been successful in treating mild to moderate spacing issues, more difficult problems with the bite may require a more traditional form of braces. Also, there are a few health problems which might need to be attended to before orthodontic treatment is begun. The best way to learn about your options is to come in for a consultation. But remember: if you want a better smile, it's never too late.
If you would like more information about orthodontic choices, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Orthodontics For The Older Adult” and “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.”