The changes that happen to the face after adolescence is significant to the orthodontist because of three reasons.
First, the orthodontist is usually the first specialist to design the treatment that will affect the way the patient will look for the rest of his life. Case in point: A corrected anterior tooth in the adolescent may appear overretracted 20 years later.
Second, as adult orthodontic treatment is getting more common, the need to understand the facial aging process also increases. Orthodontic treatment that lessens maxillary incisor display, diminishes lip projection, deepens the lateral nasal grooves or reduces lower facial height accelerates and emphasizes the facial aging features. The patient must be notified of the effect of the treatment on the face if these changes are needed to achieve the goals of orthodontic treatment.
Lastly, because of the advancement in orthognatic surgical planning and techniques, jaw surgery becomes a more feasible treatment of dentofacial deformity. A comprehensive knowledge of all available treatment options presents a more successful discussion between the doctor and patient, which results in greater patient satisfaction.
There are essential points to remember about changes to the face in the adult:
- Bone growth still continues after adolescence far into the adult years. It can eventually create modify in bony contours, jaw relationships and dental bite.
- The most common soft tissue changes of maturation and aging are increased nasal projection and decreased lip projection. Decreased lip projection happens because of thinning of the lips that makes the profile flattened.
- As age increases, the display of the upper incisors decreases and the display of the lower incisors increases.
- The characteristics of the smile are also affected by aging.