As an adult who is unhappy with your crooked teeth, you may believe you are either too old for braces or that your only treatment option involves you becoming a “40-year-old metal mouth.” You’d be wrong, and wrong.
You may be too old to order off the children’s menu at a restaurant or wear sandals with light up soles, but you will never be too old for braces. And today, braces are smaller, clearer and more efficient than those train tracks you remember Marsha Brady wearing in the 70’s.
Why get braces as an adult?
We have established adults can wear braces, but you may be asking yourself why they would want to do so. And the answer is, “for the same reasons patients at any age would wear braces.”
Because you want:
- Straighter teeth- Orthodontic treatment by an experienced, board certified orthodontist ensures you achieve a straighter, more attractive smile.
- Increased confidence- Your smile is the first thing people see. Not being proud of it can take a toll on your emotions and relationships.
- Better speech- As if to add insult to injury, crooked teeth not only look bad, but can cause embarrassing speech impediments.
- Improved health- Straight teeth and a proper bite allow you to chew your food properly, and prevent abnormal wearing of your teeth. Food that isn’t chewed properly impedes your ability to absorb nutrients and can lead to digestion problems that include bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
- Reduced decay- Crooked and crowded teeth are difficult to clean, which leads to an accumulation of decay-causing plaque. Straight teeth look better and stay healthier because they are easier to clean.
- Better breath– Decay, food and plaque accumulation can cause foul breath.
- Reduced jaw pain- Misaligned teeth can interfere with optimal jaw alignment, which is known to cause headaches and sore facial muscles. Align the teeth, reduce the discomfort.
How do braces work?
Braces are appliances that apply consistent pressure to teeth to move in a particular direction. Each of your teeth is suspended in a socket (a hole in your jaw bone) by a network of ligaments. When not wearing braces, all of the ligaments surrounding each tooth are in a state of equal tension. When braces are applied, they will pull or push each tooth in a specific direction. The ligaments on one side of the tooth will be lax and the ligaments on the other side will be stretched. This is why your mouth can feel sore after an orthodontic appointment. To restore tension equilibrium, the bone on the side of the tooth with the lax ligaments will break down – receding from the tooth to restore tension, while the bone on the opposite side rapidly regenerates to reduce tension – then we tighten the braces again. This process continues until we have moved your teeth into optimal alignment.
What makes orthodontic treatment different for adults compared to children?
- Aesthetics are important- adults almost always ask me about aesthetic treatment options. There are many, including lingual braces that go on the backs of the teeth, Invisalign, and orthodontic treatment that features clear or tooth-colored brackets.
- Improved compliance- we all appreciate the things we have to pay for out of our own pockets. While children may have to be coaxed into wearing their elastics, aligners or retainers, adults tend to be quite compliant with my instructions. I chalk it up to maturity and the fact that they’re paying for their own treatment.
- Ceased bone growth- Facial bones continue to grow and remain unfused into the early teenage years. This allows us to use dentofacial orthopedic appliances like a palatal expander or Herbst Appliance to modify the length and width of growing bones. Once the bones are fused in adults, similar improvement can be made, but not as effectively as in growing children. Still, there are many tools at our disposal to improve your smile and enable you to complete treatment feeling great about the end result.
- Longer treatment– Let’s use this description: when you are young, your teeth are set in fresh Play-Doh; when you are an adult, they are set in dried out Play-Doh – it can take a bit longer to manipulate, which can translate to slightly longer treatment. The average length of orthodontic treatment for an adult is two years. But it’s important to keep in mind products such as Invisalign and self-ligating brackets can move teeth quite quickly.
- Additional specialists – Periodontal issues, including bone loss and gum recession are more prevalent among adults, which could translate into the need to see a periodontist as well as your dentist and orthodontist during orthodontic treatment. The end result will be vastly improved oral health.
Adult braces are on Trend
Like hashtags, beards and Ray Ban Wayfarers, braces on adults are becoming more common. The American Association of Orthodontists estimates that twenty percent of orthodontic patients are over age 18. Our adult patient base at Orthodontics Only is slightly higher than the national average at 30 percent.
Stronger, Better, Faster, Smaller.
It may sound like there are no perks to waiting until adulthood to straighten your teeth, but the truth is, time and technology have been good to orthodontic appliances. Today’s braces are stronger, work faster and are less noticeable.
What styles of braces are most popular among adults?
Clear/Tooth-colored: Ceramic brackets are slightly larger than traditional metal brackets, but less noticeable because they are made of clear sapphire. Since ceramic brackets and their clear ligatures are susceptible to staining, patients must be diligent in keeping them clean and avoid certain foods and beverages if they want them to remain invisible.
- Invisalign- This clear appliance straightens teeth with a series of aligners. Each aligner is worn 22 hours per day for two weeks, then replaced with the next aligner in the series. Since Invisalign improved their material, we have been able to treat an even wider range of malocclusions including deep, open bites and over bites.
- Lingual- Lingual braces are the gold standard when it comes to appliance invisibility, as they are completely hidden on the lingual (tongue) side of the tooth. We offer two types of lingual braces: Harmony and 2D Lingual Brackets. Harmony is used to treat a wide range of malocclusions, while 2D Lingual Brackets are used for minor improvements. One downside to lingual braces is that they can cause minor speech impediments initially during treatment because they interfere with the tongue. However, patients quickly become accustomed to the backets on the backs of their teeth.
- Self-Ligating – These braces have new and improved brackets that enclose the arch wire friction-free instead of tying it down with elastic ligatures (colored bands). Reduced friction means teeth move faster and with less discomfort.
How much will your braces cost?
As wonderful as braces are and with the dramatic improvement they can make, we understand that each patient has a unique financial situation that may make it difficult for them to afford braces. We take most insurances and file your claims for you. We offer discounts for making your payment in full, and family discounts. We also offer payment methods that provide interest-free financing to make treatment financially feasible.
Exact quotes can be given following a consultation. Many factors come into play when determining total treatment cost. Call today for your free initial consultation.