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FAQ:  Adult Orthodontics

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I'm 42, and during a cleaning, my dentist mentioned that I had bone degeneration starting and recommended I see an orthodontist for braces. I've been to two ortho's and each one stressed the importance of self-esteem after getting my teeth straightened.

I'm trying to argue my case and the expense to my husband who thinks this is just for cosmetic reasons, and I can't seem to find any hard evidence as to why this is beneficial to my oral health. I don't want to go to my dentist and ask him again, as I think he may give me a biased answer.

Can you tell me exactly what are the benefits to getting orthodontics at my age? I sincerely thank you for your time. ...Visitor from NJ

I know your question regards orthodontic treatment, but firstly, is your periodontal condition being treated? You mentioned bone degeneration, and that typically is caused by plaque, calculus and bacteria. It is halted, or put into remission, by periodontal surgery if indicated or preferably by non-surgical periodontal treatment performed by an office trained in these techniques and stressing your participation in a stringent homecare routine.

If your gums can become healthy, and bone loss halted, then orthodontic treatment could potentially be strictly "cosmetic". Of course it is easier to keep straight teeth clean; crowded teeth may be harder to maintain but are maintainable. Now if bone loss has caused shifting or splaying out of the teeth, there could be a periodontal benefit to orthodontic treatment. Do know that orthodontic treatment without optimal periodontal (gum) health could be disastrous!

I would address your peridontal condition with your dentist or a periodontal specialist. Many of these specialists have great working relationships to take a team approach to getting you to a healthy, attractive smile that you can maintain for many years.

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