Never too Late to Straighten Teeth
Thursday September 3, 1998
Dear Dr. Mady: I am a 40-year-old woman who can finally afford to have my teeth straightened. Am I too old to have orthodontic treatment and what could have caused my crooked teeth in the first place? --Simone
The process of moving teeth is basically the same at any age, except that it may take a little longer in adults.
I really feel most children should have an orthodontic evaluation by age seven.
If you are past adolescence, it is not likely that your facial bones are growing much and you may need more than just braces to accomplish desirable results.
As far as cases of "crooked teeth" go, most orthodontic problems arise from malocclusion (improper bite). Examples of malocclusion include extra, crowded or missing teeth, or jaws and teeth that are misaligned.
Most malocclusions are inherited. However some can be acquired from situations such as late loss of baby teeth, facial injury, thumb sucking or other inappropriate oral habits.
Before any treatment is initiated, your dentist, or more often an orthodontist, will make pretreatment records including X-rays, plaster models of your teeth, and pictures of your face and profile so that the best path can be determined.
Many orthodontic specialists right here in Windsor now possess computer imaging systems that can show you what you will look and function like after treatment.
Later, when orthodontic appliances are placed, it is called the "active treatment phase." These appliances are adjusted periodically so that the teeth are moved efficiently. The length of therapy will vary from one individual to another depending on many factors. Co-operation and compliance on your part with all aspects of treatment will help determine this, as well as contributing to a better end result.
After your active treatment is completed, you will go into the "retention phase," where the concentration is mainly on keeping your teeth and jaws in their new functional and esthetic position. Most people during this stage will wear retainers (fixed or removable appliances to stop tooth movement).
If your orthodontic problems are more severe, you may be referred to an oral surgeon for some type of corrective jaw surgery during some phase of treatment.
The results often are magnificent and they may not only change your appearance and chewing, but your whole self-attitude!
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5