What Everyone Should Know About Adult Orthodontics

Your smile is never done blossoming! That’s what we believe here at Johnson Family Orthodontics when it comes to adult orthodontics. You’re not alone if your smile causes you to feel self-conscious. Growing awareness of the importance and availability of adult orthodontics is behind why demand for orthodontic treatments among adults has consistently grown over the past decade. In fact, the number of adult orthotic patients went from just 4.3% in 1960 to nearly 29% 40 years later. If you’re wondering what you can do to improve your smile as an adult, you probably fall into one of these categories:

  • You were unable to get orthodontic care as a child.
  • While you had braces when you were younger, your teeth have shifted.
  • Your once-perfect teeth have started to shift in adulthood.
  • Dental trauma has left your smile out of alignment.

The good news is that there are more options available than ever before when it comes to aligning and straightening teeth. If the thought of getting braces gives you flashbacks to thick metal brackets and headgears, you’ll be happy to know that modern orthodontic technology now offers discreet, comfortable, and nearly invisible options. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about adult braces if you’ve decided that you’re at the perfect age to start really loving your smile!

Why Getting Braces Is About More Than Looks

Getting a smile that makes you proud and confident is certainly enough of a reason to pursue adult orthodontics! However, correcting your smile actually goes much deeper than cosmetics. Did you know that dental alignment issues can actually threaten your oral health? Here are some ways that common orthodontic issues can cause serious problems for oral health:

  • Overcrowding: When teeth are misaligned or overlapping due to crowding, this puts you at risk for cavities, gingivitis, and other oral health issues because getting between teeth when brushing and flossing can be more difficult.
  • Overbite: When upper teeth overlap significantly above the lower front teeth, you’re at risk for overusing your lower teeth. The excessive wear that goes on daily can lead to cavities and crumbling that will require excessive restorative work.
  • Underbite: If your bite is characterized by lower teeth protruding beyond your upper front teeth, your teeth are also at risk for excessive wear that can result in damage or tooth loss.
  • Open Bite: If there’s a sizable gap between the upper and lower teeth, the constant pressure of back teeth coming together can lead to everything from wear and tear to fractured teeth.

Regardless of the nature of your misalignment, you’re at increased risk for excessive wear and tear caused by abnormal pressure and wear patterns on your tooth enamel. In addition to causing cosmetic issues, this puts you at increased risk for tooth decay. Misalignment also boosts risks for gum disease because overcrowding is a risk factor for poor oral hygiene.

Even a person who is committed to brushing and flossing can’t avoid the risks that stem from tight, constricted spaces in the mouth. Unfortunately, gingivitis and gum disease can be difficult to treat once they begin. If bacteria growth becomes severe enough, periodontal disease can cause teeth to begin to pull away from gums. This can lead to infection and tooth loss.

The Benefit of Adult Braces for Overall Health

It makes sense that having properly aligned teeth would improve oral health by reducing risks for both bacteria growth caused by tight angles and tooth fracturing caused by excessive pressure. However, you may be surprised to hear that having straight teeth can actually provide a major boost for your overall health. It’s all about the role that teeth play in eating and digestion.

When our teeth and jaw are out of alignment, eating many types of food becomes difficult. In some cases, we may be acutely aware of the fact that chewing is laborious and difficult. In other cases, we may unknowingly be using compensatory biting techniques to account for the fact that our teeth are not connecting at the right bite surfaces. In both cases, we are very likely to chew our food improperly. This usually means taking large bites or trying to swallow big chunks instead of taking time to properly chew food. Poorly chewed food creates risks for everything from malnutrition to choking. Let’s talk about what really happens when our misaligned teeth cause us to chew improperly.

The digestive process begins in the mouth. When we chew food, it mixes with saliva to get broken down into smaller, easy-to-digest pieces. In addition to making food easier to swallow, chewing also helps us to begin digesting our food from the first bite in order to extract the greatest amount of nutrients possible! Chewing quickly can confuse the digestion system into not producing the enzymes necessary to fully break down food. In addition to giving us less nutrition per bite, improper chewing can also cause chronic:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Gas
  • Acid reflux
  • Nausea
  • Malnutrition

Poor chewing can also lead to overeating. According to researchers, eating faster can actually cause us to eat more food. Eating slower causes people to eat less food while still feeling fuller compared to people who eat at a rapid pace. Of course, correcting your smile can also simply help you to enjoy each meal much more! For people who feel self-conscious about misaligned teeth, eating in front of other people can be stressful. You may feel insecure about the way a tight bite causes food to get stuck between teeth. You may also simply feel insecure about opening your mouth while eating because you feel like your teeth are on display.


The Confidence Angle: How Adult Braces Boost Quality of Life



When researchers looked at the impact of dental self-confidence, they found that perceived image of dental aesthetics can remarkably affect an individual’s social and psychological well-being. Another study found that orthodontic treatment causes significant increases in self-esteem and quality-of-life benefits for adult patients in need of oral rehabilitation. It should come as no surprise that the way our teeth look affects our confidence. This may be something that you’re currently struggling with if you’re researching adult braces.

What Are Some Options for Adult Braces?

The world of adult orthodontics is so exciting because patients have more options to choose from than ever before. If you only remember clunky metal braces that were available when you were a kid, you’ll be both delighted and surprised by the aesthetic leaps that have been made in modern orthodontics. While it’s necessary to have an in-person consultation to determine which orthodontic treatments are appropriate based on your specific alignment issue, it’s very likely that you’ll be able to select braces that offer discreet treatment. Here’s a rundown of options for adult braces available at our practice in Salem, Oregon:

  • Traditional Metal Braces: Metal braces are ideal for treating crooked teeth, crowding, and misalignment. Newer technology makes metal braces more durable, more comfortable, and lighter than ever before!
  • Clear Braces: While clear ceramic braces work similarly to metal braces, they are far less visible.
  • Lingual Braces: For someone who wants truly hidden braces, this option consists of braces that are bonded to the “tongue side” of teeth to provide an aesthetically friendly alternative to visible braces.
  • Clear Aligners: Known under the brand name of Invisalign, invisible braces are transparent, retainer-style dental appliances that are removed when a patient eats, brushes, and flosses. These aligners are nearly undetectable when worn. They also offer unparalleled flexibility and comfort.
  • Retainers: Once braces are removed at the completion of treatment, patients are provided with custom retainers that help to maintain alignment. Generally, retainers only need to be worn during sleep.

Each option comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. The great news for patients is that you can work with an orthodontist to find the ideal choice based on your budget, lifestyle, and preferences for what your braces will look like. However, it’s important to know that some braces are recommended for specific alignment issues over others.

A Better Bite Equals a Better Life

There is nothing quite like giving yourself the gift of a smile you feel proud to show the world! That’s why adult orthodontic treatments have reached an all-time high. Unfortunately, many people still falsely believe that they are “too old” for braces. From a treatment perspective, there’s nothing that makes an adolescent patient a “better” candidate for braces than someone at age 30, 40, 50, 60, or beyond! In fact, correcting misalignments and crowding can become even more important as time goes on if you want to avoid tooth fractures, tooth wear, tooth decay, gum disease, damaged enamel, and chewing issues.

What should I do if I want to explore adult braces in Salem, Oregon? It’s time to book a free consultation with Dr. Cole Johnson here at Johnson Family Orthodontics. Our kid-friendly Salem dental practice treats patients of all ages who understand that it’s never too late to prioritize oral health. We provide a positive, friendly environment where patients can get the information they need before making a decision about getting adult braces. Contact us today!