January 11, 2017
Although many people still tend to associate braces with middle school, seeking out orthodontic treatment as an adult is becoming more and more common. In fact, almost 20% of current braces wearers are adults, thanks in part to the rising popularity of more subtle, less visible options like ceramic braces and Invisalign (more on that in a minute!)
So, why do adults choose to get braces?
There are, of course, a variety of reasons. One common cause of adults looking into orthodontic treatment is how our teeth can shift with age. This natural shifting can sometimes cause previously straight teeth to become crooked and overcrowded. Some have always had crooked teeth, but were unable to obtain braces when they were growing up. And then there are those who are just ready for a new, straighter smile!
What about adults who have had already had braces as a kid? Why would they need them again?
We’ve already touched on how our teeth can shift as we get older, and unfortunately, some people’s teeth tend to shift more than others, returning them to their original position even after braces treatment.
Orthodontists have also realized that retainers should be worn much longer than they recommended in previous decades, sometimes even indefinitely, to prevent tooth movement. This means that even adults who were model patients as kids may find themselves needing braces again at some point.
Are there are any downsides to getting braces as an adult?
Although braces can be effective at just about any age once you have all your permanent teeth, it can take longer for adults to get the same results. Another important point to consider is that many insurance plans won’t cover braces for any patients over 18.
What’s on the mouth makeover menu for adults? What are the pros and cons of each?
Clear, molded plastic trays that fit over your upper and lower teeth. There is one tray, or aligner, for each straightening stage, and each stage lasts about two weeks. The total number of alignments needed for treatment depends on how much straightening is desired.
Pros: The clear aligners make them almost invisible, and smooth plastic won’t irritate the insides of your mouth. The aligners are removed for eating, so there are no pesky food restrictions, and because they’re removable, you’re able to brush and floss with ease. Since you take the trays out to eat, they’re also a breeze to clean!
Cons: Invisalign isn’t always an option for adults with major straightening needs. The aligners are custom manufactured, so there’s a wait time between your fitting and the delivery of them. This means there will also be a wait time if you lose or damage an aligner. Your aligners must also be worn 22 hours a day at least to be effective.
Consisting of wires and metal brackets customized to fit behind your teeth, instead of being placed at the front. This is a non-removable treatment and is best for people with moderate to severe crowding or spaces between the teeth.
Pros: Since the hardware sits on the back of your teeth, they’re practically invisible when you smile.
Cons: They tend to be more difficult to install, as well as keep clean. There can be a fair amount of initial discomfort for your tongue once they’re placed, and they can also make speech a little tricky.
While these look similar to traditional braces, the brackets make the difference. Traditional braces use tiny plastic bands called ligatures to hold the wire against your teeth. These ligatures fit around small hooks on the face of the brackets. Self-ligating brace brackets have built-in clips that hold on to the wire instead.
Pros: Easier to keep clean than standard braces because food can get stuck in the ligatures. The surface of self-ligating brackets is smoother overall, making it less irritating to the inside of your mouth. The wire also slides more easily through the brackets as your teeth shift, reducing the overall need for adjustments.
Cons: Although smaller brackets are available, self-ligating braces are not invisible. You’ll also have some adjustment time while they learn to get along with the inside of your mouth!
An update on traditional orthodontic treatment, ceramic braces have either semi-translucent ceramic brackets (good for very white teeth) or tooth-colored ceramic (better for slightly darker teeth.) They blend in well, especially when used in conjunction with a tooth-colored wire.
Pros: More subtle than traditional metal braces. They can also be less painful during the adjustment period because they don’t irritate the gums. High quality ceramic braces are strong, and won’t usually chip or break.
Cons: The brackets may be translucent, but the ligatures are usually latex, which can stain. Ceramic brackets are also larger than metal ones and tend to be more brittle.
Probably exactly what you picture when you think of braces! These consist of stainless-steel wire securely affixed with ligatures to metal brackets that are bonded to the front of the teeth.
Pros: Metal braces are strong, and also effective at straightening out even severely crooked teeth. Because these are the most common type of braces, they’re usually the least expensive option.
Cons: The inside of your mouth and cheeks aren’t going to be a big fan at first, and learning how to brush and floss effectively with a mouthful of metal can take a while. Because ligatures secure the wire against the brackets, you’ll need to visit your orthodontist every six weeks or so for ligature removal, wire-tightening adjustments, and ligature replacement.
The bottom line on braces by Dudley Smiles
Whatever option you choose, a straighter smile will take a while to perfect! But Dudley Smiles is committed to giving every patient the smile of their dreams in a fun, friendly atmosphere where we treat you like family.
If you’re looking for information on adult braces in Issaquah or Kent, we’ve got an experienced team standing by to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. We work at building lasting relationships with our patients so that every appointment and adjustment feels a little bit like coming home.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you achieve the smile you’ve waited for your whole life!