When most orthodontists meet an adult patient intent on correcting crooked teeth, they usually take it slow. Amid all the brouhaha about adult braces there are oral health concerns exclusive to adults that will affect how to plan the treatment.
Because crowded teeth and misaligned jaws are often difficult to keep clean, some adult patients have a degree of gum disease. These patients should be referred to a dental hygienist or a periodontist for cleaning and gum therapy before teeth straightening starts. Then, during orthodontic treatment, your orthodontist will need to be especially alert to new outbreaks. He or she may want to apply less pressure orthodontically early in treatment, so gum tissue attachments have a chance to strengthen. For more information on gum therapy or dental cleanings, please visit our gum disease and hygiene sections for more articles.
Orthodontic appliances need to be attached to something to provide the "push" and "pull" that move teeth. If key anchor teeth are missing, restorative dentistry may be suggested before the appliance can be placed.
More and more patients with temporomandibular or jaw joint problems (TMJ) are beginning to be seen by many dentists. TMJ disorders are very painful, and may result in uneven wearing of teeth or a jaw way out of position. The priority before teeth straightening is to address the jaw problem, and try to correct the bite before any more stress is added to the situation. So in the end you'll finish your orthodontic program with healthier gums, rejuvenated bone, a better bite, and a great smile to boot.