About 10 years ago Tom Cruise caused a stir when he smiled revealing his braces. Fast forward to this year’s Grammy’s and tongues were a-wagging again when Faith Hill posed on the red carpet revealing her own set of braces. Braces were once something that only kids wore, but today, adults are embracing (sorry, had to say it) braces with less embarrassment.
After the Grammy’s, Faith tweeted out a big thanks to her orthodontist, Dr. Robert Sims of Nashville. SB sat down with Robert just this week to find out the skinny on what to know if you are considering braces, and are over the legal drinking age! If you are considering braces as an adult, you are not alone; lots of adults are sporting them and many at the same time as their own kids:
SB: Are adult teeth harder to adjust than kid teeth?
Sims: No. Teeth are constantly adjusting as they are on a sea of bone which causes shifting throughout a lifetime. We can adjust teeth just as efficiently for a child as we can for an adult.
SB: Are most of your adult patients seeking braces for the first time, or is this a second round after they wore them as a teen?
Sims: I’d say 50/50. The understanding of teeth shifting has progressed and as orthodontists, we no longer suggest wearing a retainer for only two years. It’s really a life long suggestion! Wear your retainer at night, each night.
For some patients, they are turning 40 and they’ve never had braces and they are at a point where they can afford them and want a better smile. Others need to have some orthodontia work to prepare the jaw for a bridge. There are really many reasons adults seek out an orthodontist, but for the most part, it’s to have a great smile as that’s what people notice first when meeting someone.
Also, with today’s dental care, dentures are becoming a thing of the past and with that, the need for adult orthodontia work has increased.
SB: What are the options today when it comes to braces?
Sims: Most adults will need braces for 12-24 months and many of my adult patients choose Invisalign, which costs about 20% more, but provides excellent results and are practically invisible. Also, I never hear any complaints about pain with Invisalign, perhaps because it spreads the pressure out, instead of concentrating it on one pressure point, the bracket, as happens with standard braces. But, you have to have the discipline to keep up with the Invisalign liners and wear them diligently. Many adults realize they won’t do this and opt for clear braces instead, or standard braces. Some of my patients will also opt for lingual braces (braces behind your teeth), even my teen patients. In fact, my oldest daughter has lingual braces!
Some adults really just need minor adjustments and with the use clear aligners we can accomplish this in not much time.
SB: I understand that your practice has always had a large percentage of adults.
Sims: Most orthodontists probably have 10% or less of adults, where my practice has fluctuated between 40-50% adults from the beginning. As an adult, I wore braces — both lingual braces and clear braces. Many of the dentists in town knew this and that I was interested in this area from my own experience, which in turn led to many referrals from the moment I opened my doors.
SB: We always hear about thumb suckers needing braces. Are there other habits that cause teeth shifting?
Sims: Absolutely! One habit that is hard to kick is tongue thrusting. It’s when you push on your teeth with your tongue when you swallow, or at rest. Another is “mouth breathing,” where someone breathes through their mouth, instead of their nose, which causes your tongue to rest between your bottom teeth and not apply pressure and support to all your teeth. If someone is a mouth breather , their top teeth can cave in and narrow the arch, which requires orthodontia care to fix. In fact, I have a video on these habits that I show my adult patients.
SB: We hear one of the best diets is to get braces?!
Sims: (laughing) Yes, adults with braces are less likely to eat in public, so cocktail party food is out. And, if you have Invisalign, you have to remove them to eat, so snacking pretty much disappears. Also, with adjustments to actual braces, your teeth hurt, so you eat less. I guess for some, that would be a benefit to braces?!
Thanks Dr. Sims!
For more information on Dr. Robert Sims, please see: www.simsortho.com.