5 Differences Between Adult Orthodontics and Child Orthodontics

The implementation of braces used to be exclusively for children and teenagers. Over the years, medical advances have made the implementation of adult braces more popular. The process of aligning the teeth in both children and adult orthodontics are largely similar but there are some main differences.

Adults are Already Developed

A big difference between orthodontic treatment in adults and orthodontic treatment in children deals with the fact that, while adult teeth and jaws are fully developed, children’s teeth and jaws are still growing. Because the younger patients are still in the process of oral growth, it is much easier to make alignment adjustments to their teeth and jaws. By the time they have reached adulthood, the bones of the adults are hardened and the tissues around the teeth are set in with the teeth’s current positions. These issues, referred to as biomechanical limitations, make the process of realignment much more difficult.

Correcting Overbite

Malocclusion, or an improper bite, is one of the main reasons that someone might visit an orthodontist. If someone has an overbite, the condition might be made worse as they continue to wear down their teeth over the years. This worsening of an overbite, often referred to as perio-restorative issues, will make the fixing of the overbite more difficult and the focus might be to make the patient’s bite simply functional. Children, on the other hand, are still young and developing so their teeth have not been worn down as they have aged. An orthodontist can focus their care on perfecting their bite as opposed to merely creating a functional bite.

Past Extractions

A challenge for adult orthodontics are past dental procedures, something of which children have much less. If an adult is seeking orthodontic treatment and has had tooth extractions in the past, those may not be suitable sites in which teeth can grow. In order to accomplish such a feat, the adult will need to undergo further procedures such as adding prosthetic bone to the area that they plan on working.

Children seeking orthodontic treatment don’t typically have that problem. In addition to simply being younger and therefore undergoing less treatment in their lives, children are also experiencing the growth of the teeth and jaws which make them ideal candidates for orthodontic treatment as the movement and adjustment of teeth will be relatively easy compared to an adult.


One main reason why many people tend to refrain from getting braces is that they are afraid of the way they will look. For adults, their fears are often more geared toward the way they will be perceived in the business world while wearing braces. Whether it is meeting with clients or others in the office, they are afraid that they will be embarrassed by traditional braces. Sometimes this encourages them to use more modern types of braces that could have less of an impact on their teeth.

It may be difficult, if not impossible, to sway adults from this decision but not with children. Customizable aspects of braces, such as colored bands, can make braces cool for children. And because orthodontics is more common with children, they may be more receptive to braces knowing that others their age have had or are going through the same experience.

Root Resorption and TMD

There are certain vulnerabilities that adults are simply more likely to have than children which make braces more of a challenge. One of those vulnerabilities is root resorption. Based on factors such as family history and oral habits, root resorption is when the body reabsorbs the root of the tooth which leaves that tooth without the proper anchorage.

Another vulnerability that adults are at a greater risk of having is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). A patient with TMD has problems with the jaw and the jaw joint. These are what controls the process of chewing and moving the jaw. TMD can make orthodontic treatment a bigger challenge. But children are much less likely to have TMD further adding to the advantage of childhood orthodontics.

While adults and children may receive orthodontic treatment for similar conditions and while the treatment is largely the same, there are differences between the two which mainly consists of challenges with adult orthodontics. But that doesn’t mean that orthodontic treatment as an adult is not an option. It simply means that it could be an easier process during childhood. If you are looking for orthodontic treatment, come to Melbourne Orthodontics for the proper care.