The number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment has increased every year, the percentage of adults in active treatment has grown from about 15% to over 30% in 2017. Below are pros and cons of adult treatment and how it is different from adolescent treatment.
We love our adult patients. They are typically better informed, more motivated, follow instructions better, and usually have better oral hygiene than adolescents. Most adult patients have a better understanding of their own condition and the possible treatment options than younger patients. Unlike teenagers who are many times compelled by their parents, adult patients usually pursue treatment because they want it or because they have been referred by their dentist. These differences usually result in better compliance.
Adult patients do face some challenges not faced by younger patients however. First, they are no longer growing, growth can be a helpful in correcting many types of malocclusion. Examples of this include expanding the palate, opening the bite (by changing the direction of growth), and reducing the “overbite” (by restricting the forward growth of the upper jaw). Additionally, because their metabolism is slower than in growing patients, tooth movement in adults is usually slower and therefore their treatment times longer. Finally, adults tend to have more missing and compromised teeth (worn, misshaped, restored, etc.). This sometimes limits the options that are available to them.
On the upside, adult patients are usually more motivated and compliant than adolescents and are therefore better candidates for esthetic options like Invisalign clear aligners.