Brace Face and Other Concerns: Dealing with Dental Issues as an Adult

Christina Dodd 

When you were young, you didn’t think about your teeth. That was your parent’s job. But, maybe they didn’t know what to do to ensure a lifetime of beautiful smiles, or they didn’t have the money. You might think it’s too late to do anything about it. Years ago, there was a myth that was widely circulated that only teenagers and young adults were candidates for braces and corrective procedures. Well, that’s simply not true. In fact, many dentists will do these procedures on you if you ask them – there’s just one caveat. You have to ask a prosthodontist.

What Is A Prosthodontist?

A prosthodontist is the cosmetic surgeon of dentistry. But, unlike regular cosmetic surgeons, prosthodontists can also improve your oral health. How? By extracting broken, cavity-ridden teeth, by replacing damaged teeth with implants, or by preventing further damage and deterioration of a tooth and surrounding gum with a crown.

Common Dental Problems

Crooked teeth are just one problem that prosthodontists can solve. Crooked teeth are common with younger kids and teenagers because many children’s jaws do not develop fully, even in western countries. There may be a genetic predisposition to crowding, for example, that’s been passed down from great grandmother, to grandmother, to mother, to child. In these cases, there’s nothing the kid can do but to get braces to straighten the teeth.

In other cases, damage, as a result of an accident, is the cause of crooked teeth. If you’ve ever chipped or broken a tooth, you know that it can affect the surrounding teeth. Sometimes, if the tooth is loose enough, or if it falls out, the surrounding teeth will move in to close the gap.

Regardless of the cause of crooked or crowded teeth, a good dentist knows how to fix the problem.

Fixing Problems With Crowns

Crowns are the ideal treatment if you have badly damaged or cracked teeth. They’re also good if you’re missing a tooth, because the dentist will tap a titanium screw into your jaw and then fit a crown over it. Crowns are sometimes referred to as “caps,” because they “cap” other teeth (or implants), thus protecting them. They typically will encompass the entire damaged area and change the shape and position of the underlying tooth, and (positively) affect the person’s smile.

Crowns last about 10 to 15 years, and cost about $900 to $2,500 per tooth.

Fixing Problems With Veneers

Veneers are exactly what they sound like. They are a thin covering that covers up small problems with teeth. They can also be used if you want to change a tooth’s shape, size, or color. The dentist will fit your tooth with a special mold, then send it off to a lab to have the veneer made.

Finally, the veneer is bonded to your teeth as a permanent fixture. They tent to last up to 15 years, and cost roughly $1,000 to $2,000 per tooth. If you drink a lot of coffee or you smoke, you’ll want to reassess your lifestyle choices. Why? Because natural teeth stain much easier than veneers, so eventually there will be a color mismatch between your natural teeth and the veneers that cannot be easily corrected.

Porcelain dental veneers Manhattan, for example, are made of 100 percent porcelain. There’s usually no zirconia base and thus no metal shines though the veneer. As such, it’s going to retain its color and any discoloration on your teeth will be much more noticeable than if you had a backing to your veneers.

Fixing Problems With Crooked Teeth

Braces are the most common way to fix crooked teeth. The most popular types of braces include lingual braces and traditional metal braces. Traditional metal braces use a stainless steel wire with hardware that’s attached to the front of the teeth. Rubber bands are used as the tightening agent. You’ve probably seen them before as they are the quintessential brace.

Lingual braces, on the other hand, attach to the rear of the tooth, and cannot be easily seen from the front. They’re also a lot more expensive, but they’re worth it if you value your smile.

Finally, invisalign, and other similar products, use clear plastic retainers to gently realign your teeth. They’re the most expensive option, and they only work for mild tooth corrections.

Robert Ander is a dentist with a penchant for talking out all options with his patients. After years of x-rays and fillings, he enjoys blogging about the common questions and concerns he finds in his patients.