Teeth correction: methods, duration, costs
When is teeth correction necessary for adults?
There can be many reasons adults have their teeth straightened, and almost everyone has some form of dental misalignment. Crooked teeth, a tooth gap, or crowded teeth are all possible flaws a tooth correction can remedy. Depending on individual circumstances, some methods are more suitable than others. In addition to traditional braces, other procedures and aids such as aligners ("invisible braces") have now become established dental procedures. Find out more about all this with a free consultation appointment and 3D scan at one of our PlusDental practices. In order to find the right method, it is always important to know exactly what form of tooth correction is necessary.
Crooked teeth are one dental problem that affects adults and children alike. While crooked teeth in childhood is usually a genetic issue, in adults, it can often be the result of an accident or biological changes. Crooked teeth can occur over the course of a lifetime and are not limited to any specific age group. While children and adolescents have the advantage that they are still growing and their jaws are still developing, non-surgical jawbone corrections are not an option for adults. However, this does not prevent a tooth correction treatment because crooked teeth can be straightened at any age.
As an adult, you should have crooked teeth corrected because they can otherwise make oral hygiene more difficult and promote the development of certain health problems (e.g. periodontitis). Aesthetic aspects also play a role here because straight teeth are considered an essential component of perfect good looks. Even if your teeth are basically straight, gaps or crowded teeth can still lead to crooked teeth over the years. It is therefore advisable to intervene as early as possible where dental misalignments are concerned – even if they only appear during adulthood. A tooth correction not only remedies a supposed blemish, it also makes an important contribution to maintaining your health in the sense of holistic prevention.
It is known, for example, that diseases such as rheumatism or allergies are linked to dental health. But unfortunately, brushing your teeth and using antibacterial mouthwashes alone are not enough to maintain your overall dental health. Early tooth correction as regards tooth gaps, crowded teeth, and crooked teeth helps to prevent certain problems from arising in the first place. This also includes orthopaedic restrictions. After all, your teeth are directly connected to your skeleton and the surrounding muscles and fascia. If teeth are misaligned, they can have the same effects on your musculoskeletal system as other orthopaedic restrictions. Such effects include tension headaches and muscle spasms. So an early tooth correction will address these problems as early as possible.
Crowded teeth can occur at any age, so dental professionals distinguish primary, secondary and tertiary forms of the phenomenon. A diagnosis will thus indicate whether the tooth crowding is congenital or has only developed over the course of the patient's life. Adults can also suffer from congenital tooth crowding if this was not adequately treated during childhood or adolescence. However, delayed growth of the jawbone can still occur, which means even adults can develop crowded teeth. Another common cause is the emergence of wisdom teeth, which tend to push out from your gums during adolescence or young adulthood, thus reducing the available space in your mouth. A very rare form of tooth crowding is caused by a genetic error in which those affected develop more than 32 teeth (including wisdom teeth). However, this is usually noticed early in life.
What often occurs in adults is so-called functional tooth crowding. While everything remains fine anatomically, a physiological imbalance develops. This affects the tension between the actively mobile parts of the oral cavity – primarily your muscles, tongue, cheeks and lips. The possible causes can be poor posture and excessive strain. Here, both physiotherapy and osteopathy contribute to the field of craniofacial therapy, which specialises in eliminating potential restrictive features. For example, functional complaints of the jaw and dentition are often observed in people with desk jobs. In this context, adopting poor postures can lead to muscle tension and imbalances in the musculoskeletal system, which in the worst cases can also affect the teeth. So, tooth correction can effectively complement and support other therapeutic procedures.
Tooth gaps, similar to crowded teeth, can also be congenital or develop over the course of life. One genetic cause occurs when the teeth are too small for the jaw, which means the bite will have corresponding gaps. This issue is usually treated in children and adolescents, but like crowded teeth, unforeseen growth spurts can also occur later. Other biological changes in the jaw can also occur and lead to corresponding problems for adults. Accidents or sports injuries can also result in the loss of a tooth. Yet though it is obvious what has caused the gap, any gap which has arisen in this way should not simply be accepted. The space created between the teeth changes the dental dynamics. This means it is then possible for some teeth to start moving away from their original position – a process termed tooth migration. That's why you should think about a tooth correction even after losing a single tooth in a place where it is unlikely to be noticed.
What are the options for teeth correction in adults?
The possibilities and limits of tooth correction in adults depend on the exact reason for the corrective measures. Where dental corrective interventions are concerned, the individual circumstances and symptoms of the person concerned must be taken into account. There are both surgical and non-surgical options. But since surgical procedures are a medical matter and employed where there are specific health implications or after an accident in adulthood, they are only briefly touched upon here. For example, jaw surgery is mostly used to address congenital malocclusions and is usually performed in childhood or during adolescence. In adults, surgical procedures are usually employed to correct less-complex misalignments such as crooked teeth, tooth gaps or crowded teeth. The most important options for tooth correction include:
aligners (“invisible braces”)
fixed and removable braces ("active plates")
lingual and/or palatal arch
dental bridges, crowns and implants
For aesthetic reasons, adults and young people want discreet ways of straightening their teeth. And for less complex misalignments, today's dental market offers significantly more choices for tooth correction than it did a few years ago. However, with so many options, it can be difficult to choose the right method. In addition, there is no alternative to a visit to a dental practice because corrective dental aids must always be individually designed to ensure they will achieve the desired effects.
Aligners, also known as "invisible braces", are tight-fitting, custom-made mouthpieces. Germany uses the term "ausrichten" to describe their action, which has a similar meaning to the English verb "to align". This therapy method is suitable for the largely invisible correction of slight to severe teeth misalignment. If you choose this method, you will receive several aligners. These must be worn for a certain period of time and then changed in accordance with your treatment plan. To create a personal treatment plan, your jaw and teeth are first analysed by our PlusDental dentists via a 3D scan in order to create suitable plastic aligners. These are virtually invisible and have thus become a popular alternative to traditional braces. They are also easy to take out and clean, which makes them a very practical and effective method of teeth straightening for adults.
Fixed braces consist of wires and brackets, i.e. small metal supports. They are designed to remain in the mouth for several months or even for a number of years. They are less common in adults because one of their great advantages is they can also be used to correct a certain degree of jaw misalignment. So, because jaw growth is usually complete in adults, this method makes less sense. Nevertheless, fixed braces may be the method of choice for a complex misalignment, perhaps where the teeth are severely twisted. Brackets allow the targeted adjustment of individual teeth and, depending on the condition of the oral cavity, it may be possible to attach wires and brackets to the inside of the teeth. As a result, they are comparatively unnoticeable – an important aesthetic consideration for adults.
Removable braces can take many different forms, for instance: fan expansion plates, Y-plates, forward- or reverse-thrust double plates. These are also termed active plates because they exert forces (such as pressure) on the teeth and jaw. This moves teeth into the desired position but with a more limited range of movement than is the case with fixed braces. Adults can also benefit from removable braces, but one disadvantage is that, because bone growth is already complete, the treatment takes longer than for children and adolescents.
Retainers are tooth stabilisers, and rather like braces, there are fixed or removable designs. They are used after minor to moderate orthodontic interventions. Unlike braces, they are intended to stabilise your teeth in the desired position after they have already been aligned using other measures. This can be the case, for example, after a retainer or braces treatment or after jaw surgery. Retainers are not suitable as the sole means of tooth correction.
A lingual arch is the preferred option for crowded teeth. Similar to fixed braces, this support is permanently fixed inside the oral cavity. Here, a metal arch is suspended and held in place by firmly cemented bands. The arch runs along the inside of the teeth in the lower jaw, which means it is not usually visible from the outside. This arrangement is similar to the palatal arch, which stretches a wire bow across the palate. These procedures are intended to straighten molar teeth in particular.
The Nance apparatus (Nance Holding Arch) is another fixed method of dental support. Just like lingual and palatal arches, this device can be used for children and adolescents, as well as for adults too. The Nance appliance features a plastic pad that rests on the palate. It is useful for moving back canine teeth or keeping gaps open. Considered in the context of health insurance cover, this same effect can also be achieved by wearing what is known as headgear. However, such devices are visibly attached to the head or neck, which many find both uncomfortable and restrictive. That's why orthodontic specialists reject them in most instances, which means such options are rarely used.
A dental bridge is not a direct corrective measure. It is actually used to close tooth gaps or to replace a missing tooth. Otherwise, further misalignments could occur due to the migratory movements of your teeth. So a missing tooth may cause crooked teeth even years later. If necessary, a doctor might recommend the combined action of a dental bridge with other aids to regulate existing gaps or tooth crowding. Thus, a dental bridge can be seen as a supplementary means of tooth correction.
How long does adult teeth straightening take?
The duration of any tooth correction in adults can vary greatly from person to person because every tooth misalignment depends on the individual. Nevertheless, there are some guidelines based on experience or defined as standard treatment times in medical care. Dental regulation is, by nature, a relatively long-term undertaking that often requires a lot of patience. You should always follow your treatment plan when changing one of our PlusDental plastic teeth aligners. The recommendations are individually tailored to your circumstances to achieve the best possible treatment outcomes. You can wear our invisible teeth aligners at work and in everyday life. The first results will then be noticeable after about six to 18 weeks – which will vary according to the degree of correction required, and the daily wearing time this will involve. Your aligners will then be changed. After completing your treatment, it will be necessary to use a retainer so that your tooth correction remains permanent and your teeth don't move back into their old positions.
Retainers are thus part of your aftercare and must be worn permanently. On average, retainers are worn for about two years after completion of treatment. They are often used after treatments with fixed or removable braces. Removable braces are similar to aligners: to be effective, they must be worn for several hours a day. The total wearing time can vary greatly, so a proper assessment can only be made by the specialist medical staff responsible for your treatment. On average, adults have to wear fixed braces for about two to three years, although this can vary from one person to another. The same applies to lingual and palatal arches as well as a Nance appliance (Nance Holding Arch), and includes PlusDental aligners, which are among the most comfortable alternatives.
As far as possible, dental bridges are designed to remain in the mouth permanently. After all, they are supposed to replace a missing tooth. However, the materials used only have a certain durability and have different properties to human tissue. A dental bridge is generally assumed to last about 20 years. However, depending on the stress and the material used, it can also remain in the mouth much longer or need to be changed a lot sooner. Ceramic, precious metal and composite materials such as metal-ceramics are used. Much the same applies to dental crowns. While bridges are used to entirely replace teeth, crowns are intended as partial replacements. These are often used in combination to adjust and regulate entire dental areas. Steel and precious metals are only rarely used for tooth correction because of health concerns and the high price implications.