Can you be too old to have braces?
Hi, I’m Dr. Mark Knoefel from Oasis Orthodontics, where smiles come to life.
I get asked all kinds of cool questions by my patients and by their parents, and the other day, over in the consultation room, I was examining a 14 year-old boy, and we were figuring out what his treatment needs were going to be. And then dad suddenly piped up and said, “Ah, you know what? I’ve got the same problem, but I bet you it’s too late for me, isn’t it?” And I’m, “Wait, what do you mean it’s too late for you? What are you dying?” And he’s like, “No, no. I just thought I’m too old and that you can’t move my teeth anymore.” And I thought, “Huh. Good question.” Because when we think, “Well, I’ve stopped growing. You know what? My height isn’t changing anymore. Therefore, I guess if I’m not growing anymore, then why would we still be able to move teeth?” So I thought, “Hey, great question. Let’s answer it.” Well, you can actually move teeth at any age. So yes, we can move teeth in seven year-olds and we can move teeth in 77 year-olds. It just depends on what the particular problem is we need to correct. And as long as the gums are healthy, there’s no active gum disease, then absolutely you can move the teeth. And there’s lots of different treatment approaches that can be considered. Of course, adults often prefer more aesthetic treatment options, like clear brackets or clear aligners.
So those are all things that the orthodontist can discuss with you. But yes, you can move teeth at any age. Now, are there differences between adult and child orthodontics? Absolutely. Because growth does play a role. For example, in some kids who have really severe overbites, or at least moderately severe overbites, oftentimes we can achieve a successful correction without needing to resort to jaw surgery. So for example, let’s say the bottom jaw is too small or too far back. Well, as long as it’s not too severe, as long as the child’s growing, oftentimes we can get that problem corrected quite nicely and get all the teeth to touch very well. So that’s the difference. Because with an adult who’s got no more jaw growth happening, if that lower jaw is really way too small, then yes, it will take some orthodontics, but it will probably also take jaw surgery to correct.
So you may have had friends that telling you, “Oh yeah, so-and-so had braces and she had to get her jaw broken.” Well, sounds a bit brutal, but what actually happens is that jaw had to get reset into the correct position. So of course, as an adult, we don’t have growth. That’s still working in our favor. Bear in mind too, sometimes growth does not work in our favor. For example, with kids who have really severe underbites, you know what? You can’t retreat a moving target. So sometimes we actually have to wait for jaw growth to have fully finished, which could be as late as age 18, 19, even 20 years.
And so actually there, you don’t want to treat them too early. You actually want to wait for growth to have stopped. So how on earth do you sort out this mess? Well your best option really is just go see the orthodontist. Come see us here at Oasis Orthodontics. And I will tell you, “Hey, what is the right time to start treatment and do… Is growth going to be, or the lack of growth, going to be a problem? And is surgery going to be needed? But in summary, we can move teeth at any age and no, you are not too old for orthodontic treatment. Be sure to check out our YouTube channel. We’ve got some exciting other questions that we’re going to answer for you like what’s the difference between braces and Invisalign?