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Malocclusion and Orthodontics - Treatment Overview

Adult treatment continued...

New options include:

  • Clear plastic instead of silver wires.
  • Lingual braces. These braces attach to the back of the front teeth.
  • Removable clear plastic aligners (Invisalign). These are molded specifically for you.

Lingual braces and aligners don't work for everyone. They aren't options for children. Your orthodontist can tell you the best choices for your situation.

Orthodontic treatment for adults may also involve:

  • Removal (extraction) of teeth to create more space.
  • Orthognathic surgery of the jaw.
  • A retainer, after braces are removed.
  • Adjustments, such as grinding of high tips of teeth, to prevent continued or increased malocclusion for adults.

Most adults have little or no jaw growth. This means that surgery is the only way to correct jaw-related bite problems. Some adults may benefit from simply camouflaging, or hiding, a jaw-related problem. Using braces, the orthodontist can move the teeth so that they fit together, despite the jaw discrepancy. But surgery is the best way to treat more severe jaw problems.

What to think about

Some cases of malocclusion clearly require orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth. In many cases, though, the decision is a matter of personal choice. Besides looking nice, straight teeth can improve how you bite, chew, and speak. They are also less prone to decay, gum disease, and injury.

The timing of treatment is ultimately up to you and your child or teen. Talk with your orthodontist about the pros and cons of treatment options.

Orthodontic treatment isn't an exact science. The average treatment time is about 2 years, but it can take longer than planned. Usually, adult treatment takes longer than a child's treatment. The treatment time can vary, so ask your dentist how long it may last for you.

After treatment ends, teeth often begin to shift. Molded plastic retainers, usually worn at night, help prevent this tooth movement. You may need a retainer for an indefinite amount of time.

Orthodontic treatment is costly. Most medical and dental insurance plans don't pay for orthodontics. Before deciding on treatment, ask about the projected cost, terms of payment, and terms of the treatment contract.

Orthodontic treatment doesn't pose risks to adults who have healthy teeth and gums. But adults who have gum (periodontal) disease must first get treatment from a periodontist to avoid possible gum damage or tooth loss. Orthodontic treatment sometimes can make preexisting gum conditions worse.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 02, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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