Wearing braces is regarded as a significant rite of passage for many children and teenagers. Enduring being a “brace face” throughout their adolescence ensures a better future for their teeth. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore – Nowadays, more adults are getting braces than ever.
They’re not alone. A 2014 survey from the American Association of Orthodontists found that adult orthodontics patients made up a near record high of 1.5 million in the U.S. and Canada, and that one in every five patients are over age 18. However, many adults may be hesitant to get a procedure they fear may be more for children and teenagers.
Here are some reasons why getting braces as an adult may be a valid solution for your dental needs, including potential risks, braces options, and additional treatment.
All You Need To Know About Adult Braces
Why Consider Getting Adult Braces?
Adults may choose to considers getting braces for cosmetic/aesthetic reasons – perhaps you’ve felt self conscious of your teeth at a young age, but you didn’t have the means or resources to consider treatment until now, and getting them later in life can drastically improve self esteem. However, braces are also a valuable investment for your long-term oral health.
For many adults, teeth shift as they age, resulting in them becoming crooked, crowded or overlapping. Because this can result in issues cleaning the teeth regularly, it increases plaque and food accumulation between the teeth and risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Misalignment in the teeth and jaw (from excessive growth) can also make it more difficult to pronounce certain words and sounds, which can cause intense facial pain (from stress in the chewing muscles) as well as issues with speaking, biting and chewing properly. Additional health risks include headaches, earaches, irregular enamel wearing, gastrointestinal problems, and gum and bone erosion, which can all increase with age.
Even patients with already straight teeth and/or that have already had braces during their childhood may find themselves needing them again as an adult (especially if they skimped out on regularly using their retainer). The entire process for braces may take longer for adults when compared with similar procedures for children or teenagers, and the exact time varies for each person, but the average time frame for most cases is around 12 to 20 months. Some programs, such as Six Month Smiles®, can deliver similar results in around half the time.
What Types Of Braces Are There For Adults?
Braces technology has certainly evolved through the past decades.
Today’s braces use smaller and fewer brackets, less noticeable wiring, and eliminate bands that wrap around the teeth for a more comfortable experience. While adolescents may select eye-catching silver and gold brackets as well as colored wires and elastics that they can flaunt, most adults may prefer more subtle alternatives that won’t necessary scream “metal mouth.” Here are some possible options:
The classic option, metal braces are made from stainless steel and attached to the front of your teeth. They’re not only usually the least expensive option, but they may be the best choice for patients with very crooked teeth or serious dental issues – even if they make a much more noticeable statement.
Identical with metal braces in shape and size, ceramic braces are especially popular with adult wearers because they can blend in easily with the color of your teeth, therefore giving them a much more natural appearance. However, there are still some significant drawbacks. Ceramic braces require more treatment, are more expensive and can break easier than metal braces. They can also wear away enamel and stain easily without proper care.
Lingual braces are similar to metal braces, but instead they’re attached to the backside of the teeth so that the brackets and wires aren’t visible when smiling. However, they can be more expensive, uncomfortable, and difficult and time-intensive in adjusting/maintaining, as well as potentially irritate the tongue and cause speech problems.
One of the most popular options currently on the market, these appliances (resembling small mouth guards) are worn over the teeth without need for any metal or wires. They are completely customized for your mouth’s needs and worn for 20-22 hours each day, being replaced every few weeks. Clear braces especially popular with adult patients because there aren’t any food restrictions involved and they can be easily removed in order to eat, brush, and floss normally. They are a high-maintenance choice though; since they’re on the smaller side they can be easily lost and replacements are expensive, and they don’t straighten the teeth as quickly as some other types.
The average price for braces treatment falls around the $5,000 to $7,500 range.
What Happens After Getting Braces?
During the first few days having braces as well as during regular adjustments, you’ll experience some initial discomfort since adult teeth don’t move as quickly or painlessly as teens’ teeth do, and you might have trouble speaking and eating at first as well. This usually only lasts for a couple of days and can be easily treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
Since scheduling regular appointments will take up a huge part of your time, it’s especially important that you practice good dental hygiene during this process. Follow your specialist’s instructions carefully; keep your teeth and brackets clean, and after every meal brush, floss, and rinse regularly. If you need to wear a retainer during or after treatment, wear it all times in order to preserve the results.
For food, limit carbohydrate and sugar intake, and avoid foods that can get caught between the teeth and damage the braces, such as hard or sticky candy, popcorn, corn on the cob, and nuts If you have clear brackets, be mindful that certain beverages can cause your braces to change color and stain easily; consider carrying around a miniature container of mouthwash to help counter this problem while on the go.
The Final Word
Getting braces as a adult is a decision that every patient must make for themselves. While the benefits certainly outweigh the drawbacks, it’s up to the patient to talk with their specialist about whether braces are the best solution for their teeth.