Straight Talk About Braces for Adults
Cleaning your teeth may get easier once your teeth are straighter, but that's not your cue to slack off, says Adityah Chhibber, assistant professor of dental medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center.
"Most people think their crowded teeth are the reason they have periodontal disease," Chhibber says. "They think once they have straight teeth, they won't have those problems any more, but evidence doesn't support that."
Bottom line: if you don't do a good job cleaning your teeth now, braces won't fix that. So brush up -- whether you have them or not. The more you work at it, the easier it becomes to get them clean.
When to Straighten and When to Wait
Poor gum health can put the brakes on braces. If you have active gum disease, now isn't the time to tackle orthodontics.
It doesn't mean you can never have braces, but you need to treat the gum disease first, Will says. [SW1]
As far as age goes, however, it's never too late to create a perfect smile.
As long as your bones and gums are healthy enough to withstand the forces, you should be OK to get them, Chibber says. "We have patients out here in the clinic from 8 years old to almost 80 years old." [SW2]
"Sometimes adults come in and say, 'I'm 45, that's getting old,'" Will says. "And I say, 'Not at all! You should have another 50 years on those teeth!' Why not have your teeth look as good as possible for as long as possible?"[SW3