A: So, orthodontics in general, is using some sort of braces—either aligners or traditional brackets. Comprehensive ortho treatment basically means we’re correcting things in the back as well as things in the front. So, the teeth in the back sometimes need to be moved, as well the teeth in the front to align the teeth in perfect harmony.
Comprehensive ortho treatment is just a formal way to describe correcting all bite and alignment issues for a patient. It is the most often sought form of orthodontics treatment received to correct many issues.
In most cases, patients will receive braces for both arches of teeth to correct things like jaw function, alignment of teeth, and bite. The main objective of comprehensive ortho treatment is to rectify all alignment problems. We emphasize all because many alignment issues are a combination of different causes. So, if you just correct one of the causes, eventually the others will impact the alignment again. Comprehensive orthodontic treatment is comprised of many modalities including the most common:
- Braces & adjustments
- Bands and wires
- Adjustments & follow up treatments
How Long Does Comprehensive Ortho Treatment Take?
The length of Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment is wholly dependent on the complexity and severity of the issue needing to be fixed. For example, a complete treatment to correct a significant protruding bite easily can take up to two years. However, if the back teeth are good and the front teeth only have minor crowding, it could be half that time.
Typically this type of treatment is focused on teens and children. However, over the last 20 years or so more adults are seeking comprehensive orthodontic treatment. In fact, many Corpus orthodontists are seeing adults comprise about a quarter of their patient roll.
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) estimates that nearly 1.7 million adults underwent comprehensive orthodontic treatment in 2016. The trends show that that number has drastically increased as of 2020 (pre-COVID).
Adults are the fastest-growing demographic of comprehensive orthodontic treatment patients. We’re even seeing a small segment of senior citizens getting orthodontics for the first time in their life!
Comprehensive Ortho Treatment Vs. Limited Treatment
Orthodontic treatment can achieve several goals in concurrence with a patient’s needs and the outcomes they’re seeking.
Comprehensive ortho treatment is the preferred method to align all the teeth and the jaw. This results in both good form and good function. Typically, this is undertaken with adolescents because the body is still growing. It responds better to orthodontic treatments at this stage in life.
As the name hints—this can include coordinated efforts from an oral surgeon, a periodontist, and a dentist to achieve the goals set.
The reasoning behind comprehensive ortho treatment is to achieve an ideal bite. Therefore, this type of therapy may not be for everyone. A lot of people opt to just accept their posterior bite and instead, straightening the front teeth only. They do this usually so the treatment can be done in less time.
We refer to that as “limited treatment” and it does take less time than comprehensive ortho treatment. If you’re after more of a cosmetic improvement for your smile, then limited treatment is an option. You just need to keep your expectations realistic—it won’t deliver a comprehensive solution. You will have a straightened appearance to your teeth but your bite will still be off, so the function will be too. It’s kind of like putting touch up paint on a car. Sure, the paint will look fixed, but the underlying issue is still there.
Comprehensive Ortho Treatment For Adults
Even though adolescents respond better to comprehensive ortho treatment, it doesn’t mean it’s not effective for adults. No matter your age, orthodontic treatments establish an ideal bite and improve the alignment of teeth. Additionally, it reduces the risk of gum disease and decay. Jaws and teeth that are in proper alignment are easier to care for and keep clean. Plus, when you correct a malocclusion (bad bite), it lessens the undue force on teeth making them last longer.
Even adults that have undergone braces to straighten teeth might still need comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Teeth shift over time, that’s a fact—that shifting results in overcrowding, bite issues, or crooked teeth. Shifts are attributed to many causes—late wisdom teeth eruption, retainer issues, aging, and more.
It doesn’t matter if a patient is taking care of a long-ignored issue or following up from prior treatment—the benefits are there. Adults that undergo treatment get so many indirect benefits and direct health benefits as well.
A recent AAO study found that adults that had comprehensive ortho treatment saw substantial benefits in professional and personal capacities. In fact, over 90% claimed they would recommend that other adults consider orthodontic treatment.
Research shows that smiles make a huge impact on getting a job, a promotion, or attracting a partner. Further studies into the effect of a person’s bite on how they’re perceived showed an impact as well. Mainly, results showed that your bite can affect how others rate your attractiveness, intelligence, and personality.
The study data was very conclusive that a malocclusion puts you at a social disadvantage. Also, in the professional world, it is considered a handicap.
Wrong as it may be to judge based on appearance—we all do it. Quite often we are the harshest judges of ourselves, not others.
What Are The Costs Of Orthodontics For Adults?
That is a question with dual answers— the obvious financial cost and the less obvious cost of not getting treatment.
Not only can the cost of not getting orthodontic treatment be painful and complicate things—ironically, it can financially cost more too. About 50% of adults in the U.S. have some level of gum disease which itself can be severely painful when advanced. Many adults don’t realize they even have it—especially in the early stages. This is because it begins below the gum line and isn’t always painful at first.
Teeth that are properly aligned help to avoid gum disease which is often linked to diabetes and heart disease. If left untreated, bite issues get worse as time passes—this leads to substantial jaw pain and trouble swallowing and chewing. Other jaw-related disorders such as TMD (also called TMJ disorder) are a result of malocclusion.
As for the financial cost of orthodontic treatment in adults—we live in better times than in the past. Insurance in the past rarely covered orthodontic treatments. However, now over half of new orthodontic patients in the US have coverage for orthodontics. Insurance carriers over the years have been forced to include these benefits to remain competitive. When you combine an insurance plan that includes that coverage plus flexible spending accounts—it becomes quite affordable.
Of course, some patients don’t have insurance or plans that include orthodontics coverage. Fortunately, at Vela Dental we offer third party financing from preferred lenders such as Wells Fargo and CareCredit. These two lenders offer very flexible terms and make treating your dental health properly a manageable option.
Treatment Options for Adults
Over the age of about fifteen, there used to be a stigma with getting braces. Adults with braces were seen as odd, with some even being quite critical. These days it’s quite common— even celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, and Nicolas Cage got braces well past age 30. The stigma of braces as an adult has finally seemed to subside.
However, even with that subsided stigma, many people still prefer straight teeth with a discreet treatment. So, if metal braces seem too much for your style you can go with more discreet options such as:
- Invisalign, which is popular with many adult patients, uses clear plastic aligners you can barely see. Many celebrities opt for this since they are always in front of the camera and can’t disrupt the look of their character.
- Ceramic braces use clear or tooth-colored brackets that blend in a bit better but still offer the results of metal braces.
- Lingual braces are like regular braces only mounted to the back of your teeth so, they aren’t visible when you smile.
No matter which treatment you choose, comprehensive ortho treatment results in straighter teeth, a better bite, and healthy gums. Not to mention, it gives you an amazing, healthy smile as well.
Want A More Attractive Smile?
If you’d like to get that healthy, straight smile you’ve always thought about, you can discuss orthodontic treatment options with Dr. Vela. Contact us today to book your free consultation.