Does anyone you know wear clear braces for adults? Chances are good that the answer is yes since the number of adult orthodontic cases is on the rise. Researchers believe that adults feel comfortable with orthodontic care later in life thanks to innovative changes in the field and the benefits of clear braces for adults. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, although the most ideal time to complete orthodontics is while the patient is still growing, any age is the right age for ortho care!
History of Clear Braces
Clear braces were studied in detail from 1970 to 1990, and according to David Evans, DDS in his article "The History of Braces and Orthodontics," the first concept of effective invisible braces was introduced in 1997 through 3-D computer technology and the fabrication of clear plastic aligners. Orthodontic patients were issued a series of plastic retainer-like aligners that they would change at regular intervals as the teeth moved into position. The product became available to trained dentists to use as an orthodontic technique in 2000, changing opinions about orthodontic care for many adults who were hesitant to wear traditional wire-and-bracket orthodontic hardware.
Benefits of Clear Braces
The benefits of clear braces became evident as growing numbers of adult patients began to pursue care. Adults were now able to improve the appearance and function of their smile without attaching the stigma of a metal mouth. These new aligners could be removed for eating meals and dental hygiene home care; afterward, they could be placed back in the mouth to continue tooth movement. The result of this process was two-fold: First, patients gained confidence from teeth that looked better; second, oral health was improved through properly aligned teeth.
Straighter teeth are healthier in form and function. Bacteria, plaque acids and impacted food particals are the contributing factors to dental decay and gum disease. Teeth that are in alignment gather less plaque simply because they are easier to clean with proper brushing and flossing techniques. The gums fit the teeth more snugly when the teeth do not overlap, leading to a decreased risk of triggers for the inflammatory process that results in periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been proven to contribute to other systemic illnesses, so straighter teeth not only contribute to a healthy mouth but can contribute to a healthier body.
Another of the benefits of clear braces is a decrease in the traumatic wear that can result from teeth that do not fit together properly. Teeth are like gears inside a machine: If the gears do not align properly, they will wear at an improper rate, resulting in a breakdown of the machine. Teeth can chip, break, or wear at the gumline (a process termed abfraction). Using clear braces to align adult teeth can prevent patients from the need to invest significant amounts of money in restorations. Properly aligned teeth can also decrease the stress placed on the jaw joint; crowded, misaligned teeth place unnatural stress on the jaw.
Clear Braces: Retaining Teeth for Life
The ultimate goal of dental care providers is to retain each patient's dentition for life. The benefits of clear braces extend far beyond a pretty smile. Clear braces offer an opportunity to straighten teeth while raising the patient's confidence level in daily life. Although not every patient is a candidate for invisible braces, the products do provide a large percentage of individuals with improved oral health. As companies improve orthodontic techniques used in clear braces, and as new companies emerge, dental professionals will continue to learn about aligning teeth — and that gives us all a reason to smile!