When you think of straightening teeth, the first thing that might come to mind is generations of braces-wearing teenagers. But, in fact, orthodontic treatment like braces or Invisalign® isn’t just for young people. Today, adults, and even senior adults, are getting healthy smiles with adult orthodontics.
Dr. Patel has had many adult patients come in and ask, “Am I too old for braces?” The simple answer is, no, you’re never too old for orthodontic care — our oldest patient at The Brace Place was 78-years-old! Adult braces and Invisalign for adults not only address aesthetic concerns but can also fix and prevent oral health problems that can arise with age.
So what kinds of orthodontic concerns might indicate you’re a candidate for adult orthodontics? And what are the benefits of getting Invisalign or braces for seniors? Let’s answer these questions and talk about what you need to know.
In this post about adult orthodontics, we’ll cover:
- Why get adult orthodontics for seniors?
- What are my adult orthodontics treatment options?
- What is Invisalign like for senior citizens?
- Invisalign pros and cons for older adults?
- What about braces for senior citizens?
Why get adult orthodontics for seniors?
Let’s start with why orthodontics for seniors is a good idea. Like we mentioned earlier, orthodontics for seniors can help with getting the smile you’ve always wanted or address dental health issues that have cropped up over time. Adult orthodontics can also prevent new orthodontic issues from happening. You might have even had braces in your youth, but your teeth have relapsed over time and you’re now looking to refresh them.
We also want to say that the senior years can be the perfect time to get a healthy smile with orthodontics. It’s a chapter when you might finally have the means and time to focus on yourself and get the smile you deserve. The retirement years are also longer and more active these days, with many older adults taking up new hobbies, new adventures, and choosing healthy lifestyles. Adult braces or Invisalign can be a welcome aesthetic enhancement to this vibrant chapter of life, and help with feeling more youthful, confident, and attractive.
Adult orthodontics can also improve your quality of life. Some seniors have a hard time eating, drinking or even speaking like they used to because of problematic teeth. And if you’re suffering with jaw pain, migraines, or TMJ associated with orthodontic issues, you can return to a pain-free life with Invisalign or braces treatment.
Correcting misaligned teeth or a bad bite benefits your oral and physical health too. Straight teeth are easier to brush and floss, meaning you’re less prone to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. And your physical health? Some studies have linked poor oral health with serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Here are the benefits of orthodontics for seniors and why having straight teeth matters:
Improving efficiency – If you’ve been experiencing difficulty with chewing in your later years, this might be because your teeth don’t fit together in a proper bite. An open bite or overjet can make it hard to chew food, causing a lot of frustration. Aligning your bite can stack your teeth into alignment and help you eat again with ease.
Better oral hygiene – Simply put, crowded, crooked teeth are harder to keep clean; you have to brush and floss more diligently to clean properly around and in between your teeth. And lackluster oral hygiene makes you more prone to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
Avoiding tooth wear and damage – As we age, our bites tend to deepen. And a seriously deep bite can be hard on teeth, contributing to tooth wear. Worn down enamel doesn’t grow back, so you might need procedures like veneers or crowns to lengthen your teeth and bring back normal functioning.
Preventing future issues – Maybe you’ve had some mild teeth issues throughout your adult years but they haven’t intruded on your oral functioning or your everyday life. But teeth do continue shifting as we age, and your mild orthodontic problems can become more complex in your senior years. Adult orthodontics can prevent issues from getting worse.
What are my adult orthodontics treatment options?
Now that you know how adult orthodontics can benefit you in your senior years, we can dive into treatment options. At The Brace Place, we offer Invisalign and braces for our senior patients, just like we do for all our patients. And you might be pleased to hear that most patients who walk in the door are candidates for Invisalign or braces — even complex cases can be treated with orthodontics because of Dr. Patel’s 20+ years of orthodontic expertise.
Now, you might be concerned that older teeth are fully set in their positions and won’t respond well to orthodontics. We’re happy to tell you that isn’t true! With the right pressure and treatment plan, teeth can move at any age if your teeth and gums are healthy. And if they’re not? Maybe you have gum disease or tooth decay. Rest assured, Dr. Patel can work with your dentist and other specialists to get you to a place where treatment is possible.
What is Invisalign like for senior citizens?
Let’s talk about Invisalign treatment. Invisalign is a series of clear, removable, BPA-free plastic trays that you fit over your teeth. The trays are custom-designed by Dr. Patel using state-of-the-art, digital technology. You can even get a preview of what your tooth movements will look like from start to finish before your treatment begins!
Invisalign moves teeth incrementally into their optimal positions — which means less discomfort than braces. A slow and steady push force moves your teeth to align with each set of clear aligners before you move on to the next set. Typical treatment plans include 18-30 sets of aligners and lasts about 1-2 years, though it’s worth mentioning that treatment sometimes takes longer for seniors or if you don’t follow your plan to a “T”. You wear your Invisalign aligners for 22 hours a day, only taking them out when you eat, drink anything other than water, and when you clean your teeth.
We’ve found that many of our adult patients choose Invisalign over braces because clear aligners are more discreet and work well for busy lifestyles. With Invisalign, you don’t look like you’re doing orthodontic treatment, and you don’t have to change your eating and drinking habits to avoid damaging your appliance, like you do with braces.
Understandably, Invisalign for seniors can seem a bit more complicated than Invisalign for younger patients, since dental work like crowns or bridges is more common in older adults. So can you get Invisalign with crowns or other dental work? The good news is that, yes, you can get Invisalign with crowns, implants or other types of cosmetic or restorative dental work. You can even get Invisalign if you’re missing some teeth or have large gaps.
Depending on the complexity of your case, Dr. Patel might recommend Invisalign attachments or rubber bands in your treatment. These additions help fix more serious orthodontic issues like twisted or leaning teeth, or jaw alignment that’s impacting chew and bite functioning.
Invisalign Pros and Cons for Seniors?
A list of pros and cons always helps weigh out a life-changing decision like Invisalign. Here are some points to consider about Invisalign for seniors:
Pros of Invisalign for older adults:
- You get a beautiful smile – Your smile journey results in a smile you can be proud of.
- Straight teeth make you look younger – straight teeth create a wider smile, making the skin around your. mouth look tighter and more lifted. Straight teeth also give the impression of good health and vitality.
- Straight teeth equals healthy teeth – You’re less prone to plaque building up and leading to tooth decay or gum disease — straight, well-spaced teeth are easier to keep clean.
- Clear aligner treatment is discreet – Invisalign is nearly invisible so it’s not obvious you’re getting your teeth straightened like it is with braces.
- Appointments are short – You see your orthodontist for a brief check-in every 6-8 weeks, and there’s no adjustments or tightening needed.
- Eat and drink as usual – You can continue enjoying the foods and drinks you love and not worry about damaging your appliance.
- Treatment is comfortable – Aligners are trimmed to the gums for a precise fit and there are no wires or brackets to irritate your mouth.
- Oral hygiene is easy – Just take out your aligners, then brush and floss as usual. Cleaning your aligners is a quick task of brushing them with warm water and a soft toothbrush, then rinsing them before putting them back in.
Cons of Invisalign for older adults:
- Success and treatment length is based on compliance – If you don’t stick to your Invisalign treatment plan, your teeth can take longer to shift.
- Clear aligners can be misplaced – If you lose a set, waiting for a replacement might prolong your treatment time.
- Cost might be out-of-pocket – By retirement, you might not have a dental plan that covers Invisalign. Fortunately, we have flexible payment options at The Brace Place, like our in-house, interest-free monthly payment plans.
What about braces for senior citizens?
The alternative to Invisalign is braces. You might be interested to know that for older adults and seniors, braces have risen in popularity over the last 10 years. And if you’re asking, “Am I too old for braces?” look to older celebrities like Faye Dunaway and Danny Glover who have flashed their braces proudly in recent years. Teeth braces for senior citizens can combat the orthodontic issues that naturally happen as we age and correct or prevent their effects.
Choosing braces as a senior citizen is beneficial for issues like:
- Shifting teeth
- Crooked teeth and misaligned bites
- Wear and tear on tooth enamel
- Bone loss in the jaw
- Tooth decay
- Headaches, TMJ and jaw pain
Are you wondering about how braces will look? You’ll be happy to know that braces aren’t the clunky metal appliances that you recall from generations past. At our Tulsa and Claremore, OK offices, we offer two types of modern braces: the latest metal braces that have smaller brackets and thinner wires, and clear ceramic braces with white composite brackets that blend in with your smile. Ceramic braces are especially popular with our adult patients because they’re less noticeable than metal braces.
Invisalign and braces for seniors at The Brace Place
Ready to ask us about Invisalign or braces for your senior years? You deserve a functional, confident smile in your golden years! As an award-winning orthodontic specialist and Silver Invisalign provider, Dr. Patel has the expertise to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted.
Contact our Tulsa or Claremore office today for a free initial consultation.