Many people get braces in their adolescent years to address cosmetic and structural issues, like a front tooth gap or a misaligned bite.
But what was once seen as the ultimate teenage rite of passage is becoming more commonplace among adults looking to fix their smile. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, 25% of the estimated 4 million people who wear braces nowadays are adults — a staggering number compared to what it used to be 10-15 years ago.
When treating your dental concerns, braces offer considerable advantages that can help your teeth maintain excellent condition for years to come. If you’re considering getting braces for adults, here’s what to know along your way to a straighter smile.
How Do Dental Braces Work?
Dental braces are tools used to move your teeth into better alignment, enhance their appearance and function, and improve your oral health. They work by exerting consistent pressure on the teeth and jaw to change their position and gradually alter your smile over time.
While the reasons for getting braces in your adult years vary, some of the most popular cosmetic and structural issues they can correct include:
- Open bites
- Crowded teeth
- Spaces between the teeth
- Jaw-related conditions
By aligning your smile, braces also help to improve gum health and create a healthier environment for your teeth. When your bite is more aligned, you have easier access to your teeth for proper cleaning — one of the most important components of your post-braces oral health routine.
What to Know About Getting Braces As an Adult
You Have More Options
Historically, braces were metal contraptions that were uncomfortable and painful to wear, leading to injuries like sores inside the mouth. Because they were typically worn by kids and teens, their unsightly appearance was often linked to higher insecurities and lower self-esteem.
Nowadays, traditional braces are not only more inconspicuous — they’re also more comfortable. The brackets that attach to the teeth are smaller, and they can rest on the back of the teeth, where they’re less visible and intrusive. In addition, braces are also no longer bound to a traditional metal makeup, with additional options for ceramic, plastic, or a combination of materials becoming more widely available.
Depending on your health, preferences, and orthodontic needs, your dentist may recommend traditional braces to fix your smile or another device, like the ever-popular clear aligner, also known as clear braces.
A custom-fit, almost invisible alternative to traditional braces, clear aligners like Invisalign® and REVEAL® are metal-free and designed to straighten teeth fast. Made of flexible plastic, this treatment method suits adults seeking a more discrete, natural-looking solution to their dental concerns. Treatment involves wearing a series of custom-made aligning trays, with a dentist routinely swapping the devices to fit new tooth configurations.
Orthodontic treatment options have come a long way in recent years, much to the advantage of those considering braces well into adulthood. Whether you’re interested in traditional braces or clear aligners, always make it a point to ask your dentist about your different options and do your own research before choosing the right one for you.
You Don’t Have to Break the Bank
Many times, the financial burden of braces causes adults to ignore their unwanted gap or painful bite. With braces commonly costing anywhere from $4,000-$7,000, investing in orthodontic treatment can cause a harsh blow to one’s wallet that sounds hard to justify.
Fortunately, adults interested in braces have a few options to manage the cost of their treatment, from insurance plans to financing opportunities. Some clinics even offer dental memberships to help offset the pricier costs associated with routine care.
When visiting your orthodontist for an initial consultation, be sure to ask upfront about pricing and any opportunities to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. The final cost of treatment often has to do with the type of braces you pick, with metal being the cheapest, ceramic being the most expensive, and clear aligners landing somewhere in the middle. To determine an option that best fits your budget, it’s a good idea to have your dentist compare the costs and benefits of each style, as well as review the length of time you’ll be expected to wear them.
Adult Braces Aren’t Forever
One of the most common misconceptions about braces for adults is that wearers are stuck with them for a long time. After all, adult teeth set once done growing, requiring more pressure to move than they did in your teenage years.
While it is true that adult treatment typically lasts longer than adolescent treatment, that doesn’t mean you’ll be carrying braces into your golden years. In general, adult braces are only worn for 14-36 months, with the average length depending on the severity of your issue and the style you choose.
For clear aligners, treatment can take as little as 6 to 12 months.
It’s important to remember that moving your teeth takes time and, if done too quickly, can cause pain, discomfort, or further damage, like root resorption. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the treatment process without causing harm to your oral health, such as:
- Keeping your scheduled orthodontic appointments
- Avoiding foods and bad habits that can damage your braces
- Maintaining good oral health
- Following your orthodontist’s at-home care instructions
- Wearing your clear aligners for at least 20-22 hours a day
The final result of any orthodontic treatment doesn’t happen overnight. But when you practice healthy teeth habits, you can ditch your braces quicker, with less hassle and more results.
It’s Never Too Late to Love Your Smile
Whether you’re 15 or 50, there’s no deadline for achieving your perfect smile.
When you visit us for your orthodontic concerns, we’ll work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your unique goals using our decades of experience and advanced technology.
Ready to discuss your smile? Request an appointment with us today to learn more about dental braces for adults.