adult braces
Dental Health
Oral Health

Considering Braces? Visit An Orthodontist Before Investing In Major Dental Treatment

Adults, including many in their 50s and older, are getting orthodontic treatment in record numbers. The rate has risen 40 percent in the past decade, according to the American Association of Orthodontics.

Yet while orthodontists say there’s plenty of hope for adults to get their teeth straightened by braces, having a lot of other dental work done in advance — and spending a lot of money in the process — may be a big mistake in some cases.

If you are an adult about to invest in major dental work, you should definitely consider seeing an orthodontist for a consultation first. Certain kinds of major dental procedures, which the patient thinks will clear the way for braces, may actually reduce the effectiveness of them.

Here are some examples of dental work that may be best to wait on until after orthodontic treatment:

  • Bridges and implants 

    If you have unfortunately lost one or more of your permanent teeth and are now in need of prosthetic replacements such as dental bridges and implants, please know that these cannot be moved by braces. Before you get an implant or bridge, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if you will ever want to get your teeth straightened or fixed. Once your implant is in, you may not be able to correct your bite orthodontically since the immobility of even one implant or bridge can seriously limit the movement of the surrounding natural teeth. Additionally, if it hasn’t been long since you lost your tooth, there may be a chance that the space left from the missing tooth could be closed with braces, allowing you to avoid the implant or bridge altogether.


  • Crowns

    Because a crown changes the entire shape of your tooth, it is best if a crown is done after completion of your orthodontic treatment. When a crown is made, it’s shaped so that it fits well with the surrounding teeth as well as with the teeth on the opposing jaw. But if your bite is not good, that means when you get braces later, your crown may not fit with the opposing teeth in the new, corrected bite. The crown was shaped to fit your old bite, not your new bite. Depending on the situation, you may be able to get either a large filling or temporary crown on your tooth to hold you over until your orthodontic treatment is complete.

  • Teeth-whitening

    Stained teeth can make patients feel insecure about their smile, and that is one reason why teeth-whitening is such a popular procedure. While there is nothing wrong with whitening your teeth without orthodontic treatment, you will definitely get a better result if your teeth are nice and straight first. Crooked or crowded teeth are often overlapping each other. Thus, the whitening agent will not be able to reach the areas of your teeth that are covered by other teeth. This results in uneven whitening and a less than optimal result.

It is never too late to get a beautiful smile, and more and more adults are discovering this each year. However, adult orthodontic treatment is different from that of children. It is important to understand what factors can affect your orthodontic treatment and your smile.

Dr. Ana Castilla is an orthodontist and the author of the book Smile of Your Life: Everything You Need to Know for Your Orthodontic Journey ( Dr. Castilla is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics and is dedicated to both education and research in the field of orthodontics. Her research on indirect-bonding techniques has been published in the Angle Orthodontist journal. Dr. Castilla was born in Ecuador and grew up in the United States.


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