As people get older, it is common to accept tooth loss as a part of aging. However, you do not have to accept it. In fact, the use of orthodontic appliances, such as braces, may help you retain your natural teeth longer. Here are three reasons why orthodontists may prescribe or suggest braces for septuagenarians and octogenarians.

Gum Disease Is Mild to Moderate and Reversible

Gum disease in later years often leads to tooth loss. However, modern dentistry has been able to reverse some gum disease as well as slow it down. When these techniques are combined with orthodontia, the teeth stay in place while the gum disease is partially or totally reversed. With ongoing and proper dental care, the braces are eventually removed and the teeth remain fixed in healthier gums. (If you have advanced gum disease with loose teeth and several teeth already gone, braces will no longer help and your dentist may recommend removing the remaining teeth entirely to avoid infection.)

Shifting Teeth Can Be Moved Back

If you already have a few missing teeth, chances are your other teeth may have begun to migrate into these open spots. This makes it difficult for a dentist or an orthodontist to get a good bite imprint from which to make a partial. Temporary braces can help shift these teeth back into their original positions. Once the teeth are back where they are supposed to be, then the dentist or orthodontist can remove the wires from the braces and create a working bite imprint for a partial. When the partial is properly fitted, then your dentist or orthodontist would remove the braces entirely.

Prevent Teeth from Falling out Due to Bone Cancer and Related Treatments

If you have been diagnosed with bone cancer late in life, but it is still in the early stages, your dentist or orthodontist might recommend braces to prevent tooth loss during the course of your treatment. When the cancer is in the head or jaws, then it becomes even more important to try to save the natural teeth and keep them in your mouth. The entire procedure for placing braces is often conducted prior to your first treatment for bone cancer such that your teeth are "anchored" and not going anywhere anytime soon. The braces may stay on until after you have received word from your oncologist that the cancer is in remission, thereby making the orthodontia no longer necessary. To learn more about orthodontics, visit