Orthodontics and Adults

For many people, the first image that comes to mind when thinking of an orthodontic patient is a braces-clad teenager. It’s true that we see quite a few adolescent patients here at Shaw Orthodontics, but that’s certainly not the only demographic visiting our office for treatment. In fact, about one in four orthodontic patients today are adults. This quarter of patients needs solutions crafted to fit their lives, not the other way around.

Luckily, we have some tools in our arsenal that fit the bill perfectly. But before we go into these solutions, let’s go over some reasons you might need orthodontic treatment as an adult in the first place.

Things Can Change

A common misconception about teeth is that they’re done moving once adolescence ends. The period of huge physical change that youth signals are certainly significant for the way your mouth develops, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. Even if your teeth look straight in adolescence, adult shifting can lead to misalignment, jaw pain, and a smile you’re not satisfied with.

It’s the Perfect Time

For a litany of reasons, some people either don’t want to or aren’t able to receive orthodontic treatment as an adolescent or child. They get into adulthood, and they realize that it’s just the right time to get the smile they’ve always wanted. Maybe the reasons are aesthetic in nature, or perhaps their dentist has referred them to an orthodontist for the sake of their health. A dentist might do this because teeth straightening can often help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Orthodontic treatment in concert with good oral hygiene means a healthy, pristine set of teeth.

Middle aged adult couple

Potential Challenges

Adult orthodontics need to be approached differently than adolescent orthodontics for a few reasons. Because the landscape of the mouth is quite different with adults, a few challenged are presented when seeking treatment that isn’t present with the treatment of younger patients.

Bone Development

In adult patients, bones are much harder than in adolescent patients. This means that teeth have more difficult time moving during treatment. Treatments tend to be a bit longer and more involved than with children and teenagers.

Old Extraction Sites

When an orthodontic appliance is used on an adult, it can be difficult to shift teeth into a position where a tooth has been previously removed. If teeth need to move into these areas, we often use the prosthetic bone to make it possible.

Aesthetics and Pain

Many adults are concerned with their appearance as they undergo treatment. Traditional braces aren’t very appealing to many, but sometimes they are the most effective and cost-efficient option. Luckily, some great alternatives are more aesthetically appealing.

Some are concerned that treatment will be painful. At Shaw Orthodontics, we do everything we can to make sure the process is as comfortable as possible. Very little pain should be expected with modern techniques, and any discomfort you experience shouldn’t last for more than a few days with proper care.  

What Are Your Options?

There is a whole world of opportunities for adults seeking orthodontic treatment. Of course, these treatments start with an initial consultation during which an orthodontist can discuss your unique circumstances with you. Every situation is different, but most adult patients deal with a one or more of these common problems:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Gapped teeth
  • A malocclusion (misaligned teeth including underbites, crossbites, and overbites)

The vast majority of these cases can be treated with a few noninvasive techniques.


Even for adult patients, traditional metal braces are a popular option. They’re more comfortable than ever and extremely useful. We find that adults can grow accustomed to wearing these for the duration of the treatment, and can become quite comfortable with the way they look for the relatively short time they need to be worn.

Lingual and clear ceramic braces are two options that are often more agreeable to most. Lingual braces sit behind the teeth, making them completely invisible when you smile. Clear ceramic braces are similar to traditional metal braces but aren’t as noticeable. Both of these solutions will require the patient to pay close attention to their oral hygiene, as they are a bit harder to keep thoroughly clean than their stainless steel counterparts.  

Invisalign Clear Aligners

For patients who want to circumvent braces altogether, Invisalign is an attractive solution. These are invisible and completely removable, allowing patients to eat and drink whatever they like. As a bonus, you won’t have to worry about these collecting stains as long as you remember to keep up a regular, thorough oral care routine. They’re made from a stain-resistant, BPA-free thermoplastic material that delivers exceptional results.

You’ll have a new aligner every few weeks, as the system uses a series of gradually changing sets that gently guide your teeth into place.

I Want to Learn More. What Now?

If you’ve got more questions about potential treatment, you should consult with an orthodontist. Shaw Orthodontics has plenty of experience working with adult patients, and we’d love to hear about your needs. You can schedule a consultation at our Rockwall, Texas office by calling 972.722.1500, or by filling out this easy contact form. We look forward to hearing from you. Remember, it’s never too late to get your ideal smile!