If you think going to the orthodontist is for teens only, think again. Some orthodontists say that they have a growing number of patients ranging in age from 50 to 80 years old who are getting braces to straighten their crooked teeth. Besides getting crooked teeth fixed, here are three other types of treatment orthodontists can offer seniors.
Treatment for Misaligned Bites
The two types of misaligned bites include an overbite and an underbite. An overbite occurs when the upper jaw is overly protruding. An underbite is when the lower jaw extends beyond the upper teeth. In either instance, a misaligned bite is usually caused by the early loss of teeth, an injury to the jaw, or gum disease. Having an overbite or an underbite can cause the following problems:
- Interferes with chewing
- Strain on the teeth and jaw
- Increased risk of tooth decay, gingivitis, or cavities
For seniors who have suffered with a misaligned bite for years, getting a removable retainer or braces can help fix this problem.
Treatment for TMJ
Temporal Mandibular Joint disorder (TMJ), is a disorder of the joints in the jaw that creates a misaligned jaw and bite. Grinding the teeth, clenching the jaw, and stress are all causes of TMJ. This painful disorder can cause the following problems:
- Clicking of the jaw joints
- Worn out teeth
- Locked jaw
- Ringing in the ears
For seniors with TMJ, food cannot be properly chewed which can result in digestive issues and nutritional deficiencies. While braces may be one option for treating TMJ, there are also other types of orthodontics that can help, including oral splints and mouth guards.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
It's important for aging adults to get enough rest. If they have a sleep disorder called sleep apnea, it can prevent them from getting the rest they need. If the sleep apnea is mild to moderate, an oral device may be able to help. There are two types of devices orthodontists normally recommend:
- Mandibular advancement device -- resembling a sports mouth guard, this device forces the jaw down and forward, which helps to keep the airway open
- Tongue-retraining device -- a type of splint that that holds the tongue in the proper position, which in turn keeps the airway open
For seniors who choose the tongue-retaining device, they will have to periodically get it adjusted or replaced.
If you're a senior who suffers with a misaligned bite, TMJ, or sleep apnea, an orthodontist will be able to help.