Teeth straightening works best when the teeth and jaw are still growing, but treatment won’t usually begin until most adult teeth have come through. This means the ideal age to start wearing dental braces is usually around 10–14 years old.
However, braces can still be effective at any age. The researches have plenty of information for adults who may be considering braces. And while some adults may have them fitted for health reasons, in many cases it’s more to do with the esthetic appearance of their teeth and smile. Straighter teeth can lead to better self-esteem at work and at home.
One condition of having braces is that your teeth are in relatively good condition and you maintain good oral hygiene. If your teeth have already been damaged by decay, you have gum disease, or you have had extensive restorative work such as crowns, you may not be able to have all types of orthodontic treatment. In this case, you could consider veneers or dental implants to improve the appearance of your teeth.
Types of braces
Metal or clear braces
When you decide to get braces, you are taking an important step when it comes to caring for your teeth. Braces not only correct alignment and bite issues, but they can also result in a beautiful smile, giving you additional confidence to match your improved oral health.
When you are considering orthodontic treatment, you generally have two options when it comes to braces: metal or clear. Both options are viable, providing a range of benefits that should be considered. If you’re trying to figure out whether clear or metal braces are right for you, here’s what you need to know.
The Benefits of Metal Braces
The metal braces of today likely aren’t the ones you remember. Metal bands with brackets don’t have to be applied to each tooth, and the newest developments have created wires that are much less noticeable than previous iterations. Plus, metal braces offer your orthodontist an unprecedented level of control when it comes to your treatment, allowing every tooth to be shifted to precisely where it needs to be.
Metal braces allow your orthodontist to correct a range of issues quickly and efficiently, with brackets that are much smaller than ever before. Plus, the compatible bands are available in a variety of colors, allowing your braces to be a little fun and a form of self-expression.
The Benefits of Clear Braces
It is important to note that clear braces and solutions like Invisalign are not the same thing. The Invisalign system is a series of removable trays used to straighten your teeth. Clear braces on the other hand are structured similarly to metal braces that are adhered to your teeth. The only real difference is that they are made of a transparent material or ceramic designed to blend in with your teeth instead of the classic silvery toned metal.
Clear braces are a great option for those who would prefer a discrete look but aren’t a candidate for Invisalign. They aren’t particularly noticeable, creating a more appealing overall aesthetic. Plus, they are suitable for nearly any orthodontic need and may straighten your teeth more quickly than the Invisalign system is able to do.
Invisalign treatment consists of a series of aligners that you switch every two weeks. Each aligner is individually manufactured to gradually shift your teeth into place. Since it’s virtually invisible, you can go about your daily routine with almost no one even knowing you are correcting your smile.
With early orthodontic and invisible braces / Invisalign intervention, you can help your child avoid a lifetime of crowded smiles and other bite and facial problems. Modern orthodontics can give children and adults new wonderful smiles.
Invisible (Invisalign) Braces
Can you straighten teeth without braces? In most cases, it’s possible to straighten teeth without having metal glued to them, which is what most people consider braces to be. Invisible braces are a very popular alternative to fixed braces.
Brace types also include retainers. It may also be possible to use a dental retainer to correct minor problems such as overcrowded teeth. Retainers can be fixed or removable; the latter is formed from metal wire and an acrylic plate that is shaped to fit your mouth.
Removable retainers are a good option for people who want to preserve their newly-straightened smile without having fixed wires bonded to the back of their teeth. Removable retainers which need to be worn during the day can easily be taken out for special occasions and to eat. On the downside, they’re easily lost and expensive to replace so a fixed metal retainer may be easier to manage.
How do I know if I need orthodontic work?
You may have concerns about your smile but aren’t sure if you need treatment. If you’re concerned about the appearance of your teeth, mention it to your regular dentist at your next checkup. He or she will be able to refer you to an orthodontist if needed.
How long will treatment take?
This varies enormously, depending upon what needs to be done. It can take as little as 6 months, or in some cases, a few years. Poor cooperation with treatment, not caring for your brace properly and/or failing to turn up to appointments will inevitably prolong treatment.
What are the benefits of treatment?
The benefits include;
- Achieving a nice smile, with straight teeth.
- An improved bite
- For some patients: Bringing the front teeth back may reduce the likelihood of damage to them
- Aligning buried teeth may mean that they are less likely to damage the roots of the adjacent teeth, and or cause other problems (e.g. cysts and infections)
- Reducing a deep bite can prevent stripping of the gums away from the teeth
- Orthodontics may be used to localize spaces for e.g. implant placement for those patients who are missing teeth, making it easier to achieve a good occlusion
What’s it like wearing braces for adults?
In many countries, the high cost of braces for adults has turned them into a status symbol of sorts. Nowadays, it’s becoming more common for adults to seek treatment later in life—either because they missed out on it as a child or because of the amount that braces cost.
It’s still understandable for adults to worry about being treated differently at work, being teased by friends, or being viewed differently by potential partners as a result of wearing braces. This is one of the reasons why alternatives such as removable aligners and clear braces for adults are so popular.
On a practical note, some adult brace-wearers report difficulties with speaking and eating at first, but soon become accustomed to their new appliance and find ways to adjust. Most people get used to wearing braces within a month and no longer notice them after six months or so.
Do braces as an adult hurt?
If you get dental braces for adults, you’re asking your body to break down parts of the bone in your jaw that hold your teeth in their current position. Bone is then re-grown around the teeth in their new position, So yes, it’s normal to feel some discomfort – especially in the days following each visit to the dentist or orthodontist when your braces are adjusted. There’s a chance you may also experience some irritation to your cheek tissue, which can lead to mouth sores.
Here are some tips for dealing with any pain:
- Take over-the-counter painkillers to ease any soreness and aches
- Use orthodontic wax to cover any brackets or wires that are irritating your mouth
- If you do develop mouth sores, avoid touching them with your tongue or fingers as this will make them worse
- Anesthetic mouth gels can be used to numb painful areas; this can be especially useful at night if you’re having trouble sleeping
- Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will help ease oral pain
ORTHODONTIC DO’S & DON’Ts
- Keep your teeth and gums extra clean, cleaning them at least twice a day morning and night for two minutes.
- Use a Fluoride Mouthwash to keep the mouth extra clean.
- Try and clean your teeth after meal times as best you can, food will get stuck around your brace.
So to prevent this it is recommended to use interdental brushes to clean in between the teeth and brace.
- Take good care of your braces and all appliances.
- Chew gum, eat hard, sticky or chewy foods such as toffees, caramels, wine gums and hard boiled sweets.
- Eat raw fruits or vegetables such as carrots and apples, cut them up into fine slices and chew them with your back teeth.
- Eat hard bagels or crusty bread.
- Eat popcorn or nuts.
- Eat pizza crust, this can be a little tough on the brace, cut the crust off and enjoy the middle bit.
- Bite your nails, suck your thumb, or bite onto any objects such as pens and pencils.
While there are some foods you may avoid simply for comfort, there are others that are prohibited altogether if you have a fixed appliance. Crunchy foods like apples can damage brackets and wires. Invisible braces offer the most flexibility with eating as they can be completely removed, but remember you must clean your teeth before putting them back in again.
Your orthodontist will tell you which foods to avoid eating with fixed braces. These usually include:
- Hard foods like nuts and boiled candies
- Foods you bite into like apples, raw carrots, crusty bread, and corn
- Sticky foods like caramel and chewing gum
- Crunchy foods like popcorn, potato chips, and ice
- Chewy foods like gummy candies, bagels, and tough meats
You can also cause damage just by biting on hard things like your fingernails or the end of a pencil, so you must be mindful of what you put in your mouth.
If your braces get damaged while you’re eating you may not even realize it, and this can prolong your treatment. You may have to pay for certain parts to be replaced, too. These are both good reasons to follow the instructions from your dentist!
How much do braces cost for adults?
The cost of adult braces varies a lot based on types of braces. Adult braces prices will most likely be higher than braces prices for children.
What Conditions Can Braces Be Used For?
Today, many people opt for invisible bracesas an option to standard metal braces, primarily because they are hardly noticeable. However, this option isn’t effective in correcting the wide range of dental problems that the latter can. Clear aligners are effective in treating mild-to-moderate dental problems. In comparison, traditional metal braces are effective in correcting:
- Overlapping teeth
- Gaps in teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Teeth that require vertical shifting
- Teeth that require rotation
- Bite problems such as open bite, cross bite, underbite and overbite
How often should I brush my teeth while wearing braces?
Brush your teeth after every meal. If you have a removable appliance this should be removed for cleaning the teeth then replaced straight after. Using a fluoride mouthwash during treatment will maintain healthy teeth.
Should I be aware of anything else during my treatment?
Orthodontic treatment may cause tooth root shortening. This usually causes no long-term problems, however if it is severe treatment, it may need to be stopped early. Very occasionally teeth may become non vital and may require root treatment. This is most likely to occur where teeth have been previously traumatized or have very large restorations.
How can I ensure my teeth stay in position after treatment?
Retainers are used to hold teeth in their new positions and may be fixed or removable appliances. Even following a period of retention, some changes may occur. You will be provided with one set of retainers but you will be charges for replacement/repair if retainers are lost or broken.
What if I break my brace?
If your appliance breaks, contact your doctor as soon as possible to have it repaired in order to prevent unwanted tooth movement.
Do I need to visit the dentist after my braces are removed?
You should continue to see your regular dentist for check-ups and dental treatment during orthodontic treatment.