The straight truth about adult orthodontics is that most grown-ups want straight teeth without all the metallic hardware. What they may not know is that today’s teeth-straightening options are practically invisible.
Dr. Timothy Bussick, a Fort Wayne orthodontist who has been practicing since 1997, said that in his practice, nearly 30 percent of his patients are adults. Among older patients, only five to 10 percent of them choose traditional, stainless steel braces.
“Most of my adult patients choose Invisalign,” Bussick said.
Invisalign, the brand name for orthodontics that straighten teeth using specially fitted, rigid plastic trays that fit over the teeth, has been in use for over 17 years. Because the aligners are transparent, it appears that the wearer isn’t using orthodontics at all. That’s the “invisible” part of Invisalign.
During treatment with this method, the patient will receive a series of clear plastic trays that are worn over the teeth at all times, except when eating. The trays are switched every one to two weeks, depending on the patient. Cleaning and maintenance is as simple as removing and brushing the trays.
Bussick said if a practitioner feels competent enough with this kind of product, most corrections can be done using the transparent trays. But some patients may need a combination of procedures. “Sometimes you need braces to unravel a really twisted tooth, but can go to Invisalign after 60 to 90 days,” Bussick said. He also noted that children who still have baby teeth are not good candidates for this device.
Invisalign can cost $1,000 to $2,000 more than traditional braces, but this varies by provider. For instance, Bussick charges the same for either type of alignment procedure, because his high volume of patients using the tray aligners and his proficiency makes them less costly for his practice.
If patients choose to use braces for correction of their crooked teeth, there are clear brackets and wires on the market that minimize the appearance of the braces on the teeth.
Bussick noted that many patients are turning to veneers and crowns or tooth reshaping to achieve the appearance of straighter teeth. He warned, however, that veneers and crowns only last eight to 10 years before needing replacement at the average price of $1,500. For this reason, he recommends orthodontics, which, if patients use their retainers consistently after the course of treatment is finished, should provide a lifetime of straight teeth.
For many adults, crooked teeth are a cause of embarrassment that they are loathe to correct with ever more attention-grabbing silver braces. But the orthodontics technologies of today provide nearly unnoticeable corrections.