Braces ... Again?

Woman smiling with braces with the words,Think You Are Done with Braces

A number of our patients are second-timers – adults and even older teens who had braces when they were younger and now need them again. The first question these patients ask is: Can I do this twice?

The short answer is nearly always "yes." So long as your gums, teeth and mouth are healthy, your bones are strong and your roots are deep, there should be no problem restoring your proper alignment. Early treatment doesn’t in itself preclude later orthodontic work.

Why would a second round of braces be needed? Often, teeth shift simply as a result of aging. Just as your vision, hearing, weight and other aspects of your physical body modify as you mature, so do your mouth, jaws and teeth.

In some cases, injury or dental problems could lead to a braces re-do, but most often, teeth shift because the patient hasn't followed instructions for using the retainer.

After braces, your teeth need time to permanently fix into their new positions in your jaw. It is the retainer, which your orthodontist will custom-make for you, that holds them in place. Some retainers are temporary but others require a lifetime commitment. As you mature, your orthodontist may periodically need to fit you with new retainers.

Proper care, beginning as soon as your braces come off, can prevent many cases of reversion. But if it's too late for that, and you think you need braces again, they will likely be successful. After all, adults now make up as much as half the patient load in some orthodontists' offices.

To clear up any confusion, here are some answers to questions we most often receive:

In some cases, a treatment plan anticipates two rounds of orthodontia.

Generally, orthodontists want to start braces after the permanent teeth have erupted. However, for some conditions, such as a severe crossbite that is best corrected while the jaw bone is still malleable, it is important to start braces by around age 7. Sometimes this initial work will be all that's needed, but when it isn't, the second round of braces is often easier and shorter – and less expensive – than it otherwise would have been.

In complicated cases, a two-stage treatment plan may be preferred.

Youngsters with severely misaligned bites or anomalous dental growth patterns may need such a laborious corrective treatment that the orthodontist will split it to give the patient a break.

Wisdom teeth can cause your teeth to shift.

One milestone to watch is the eruption of wisdom teeth, which generally appear in the late teens and even early twenties. These could crowd your other teeth and push them out of alignment. Your dentist can tell you if you should have your wisdom teeth removed.

Your own behavior can affect your bite alignment.

If you bite your nails, thrust your tongue or grind your teeth, for example, you can cause them to move. Specialists can help correct tongue thrust – essential for braces success – and your dentist can make you a guard to protect your teeth from grinding. Your doctor can recommend aids to curb nail biting.

Chemotherapy and similar medical treatments can impact the health of your mouth.

There are many different types of chemo, and everyone reacts differently to them, but chemo can cause problems with your teeth and gums that could result in movement or tooth loss. It's important to see your dentist regularly during your treatment to make sure your mouth stays as healthy as possible.

Good hygiene is No. 1.

Take good care of your teeth! People who don't floss and brush regularly and see their dentist at least twice a year risk losing teeth from cavities or gum disease. If you're missing teeth, the other teeth drift into the open space, changing the alignment of your bite.

Braces may be easier the second time around.

If it's been a while since you had braces, you will be pleased at the new products available now: Invisalign, which can barely be seen and offers lifestyle advantages; ceramic braces, which can be clear or match the teeth; lingual braces that are attached to the backs of the teeth. Even if you opt for metal, they will be smaller and more comfortable than you would have endured years ago. In many cases, the treatment time will be shortened and the cost reduced.

We can make your smile beautiful again! Call our office for a free consultation.