Can I Get Braces as an Adult?
You probably were not one bit jealous when your teenage friends complained about their braces. But now, as an adult, you may feel like you’ve missed the boat. If you want to improve your smile, we have good news for you—it’s not too late! Adult orthodontics are popular and common today, and there are more options than the usual metal and wire braces your parents wore. Although we do not provide orthodontics services here at Westdale Dental, we can give you information to get you started.
Here are some answers to questions that might be on your mind:
How long will I have to wear braces?
The length of time is different for each person, but the average for an adult is two years. It could be more or less for you. Your orthodontist will be able to determine the right approach and an approximate time frame after examining your teeth and jaw structure. Sometimes the process for adults is faster than for teens because adults tend to take better care of their teeth! It’s not a bad idea to assume that you will wear your braces a couple of months longer than the projected “coming off” date. That way you will be less disappointed should that be the case for you. Here are a few things that might make the process go faster:
- Use an electric water pick to clean your teeth (shoots water, clean in-between wires).
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned at least every six months.
- Don’t miss any dental appointments.
Is it a more difficult process for adults than for teens?
Everyone knows that kids heal faster than grown-ups, so it makes sense that braces may be easier for the younger generation. It just depends on the person! With advancements in technology happening all the time, you will likely find it easier than you think. Thankfully, technology has improved and expanded in the last couple of decades, but, to be honest, you need to expect some discomfort. Here are some ideas that will help make the process more comfortable:
- Use wax to prevent mouth scratches from the wires.
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, before appointments.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
You are not alone! Check out this helpful website, designed just for adults with orthodontic braces: www.archwired.com.
Should I get metal braces, ceramic, or aligners?
There are more options today than there were years ago. The three most popular options are traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, and invisible aligners (much like a retainer). Choices are largely dependent on the type of problem you need to resolve, so you will need to discuss your options with your orthodontist. Let’s look at some pros and cons for each of these most common methods of teeth straightening:
- Do an excellent job of correcting most issues. They are great at fixing extremely overcrowded teeth, as well as over- and under-bites.
- They have improved over time: smaller-sized brackets.
- Some orthodontists provide Lingual Braces, which are metal but are attached to the backs of the teeth instead of the front. Less obvious for sure!
- Permanently placed, until removed by a professional … no forgetting to put them on, like with an aligner.
- These are extremely durable!
- Metal is the least expensive method of teeth straightening.
- Metal has the most drastic appearance, albeit temporarily.
- They can be painful, causing sores in your mouth (use wax and get wires trimmed, if necessary).
- May cause you to look younger or less professional, depending on your career.
- Proper cleaning of teeth is harder and more time-consuming unless you use a water pick.
- They limit the types of food and drinks you can consume.
- You must visit the orthodontist for regular adjustments.
- They are less visible than metal, especially from a distance.
- These are permanently placed, until removed by a professional … no forgetting to put them on, like with an aligner.
- May help you feel more confident about your appearance.
- They tend to be bulkier than metal braces.
- People may stare at your mouth more because they can’t immediately see what’s on your teeth.
- They tend to make your teeth look yellow (but cleaning after each meal helps!).
- They break more easily than metal braces.
- Ceramic braces cause more friction to the wire, slowing down the time it takes to correct your teeth.
- Not recommended for those involved in sports – you may need to wear a mouth guard so they don’t chip or break.
- These are very discreet and practically invisible.
- A good option for adults who had braces before but have experienced shifting in their teeth.
- Clear aligners straighten your teeth using custom-made clear aligners that are made of plastic and fit comfortably over your teeth.
- Clear aligners is an orthodontic treatment that uses 3D modeling technology. Using 3D models of your teeth and jaw, orthodontists can identify the right tooth position for each patient, which provides a precise bite adjustment.
- These tend to be less irritating to the gums and the inside of your mouth.
- Not an option for more challenging orthodontic issues.
- They don’t have to be regularly adjusted like metal or ceramic braces, but you still need to plan for fittings and progress monitored.
- Easily lost or misplaced.
- They must stay on your teeth for a certain number of hours every day.
- You need to wash the plate and your teeth every time you remove it.
- They tend to be more expensive than the other options (ask your provider).
Your orthodontist will be happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding your options. We strongly do not recommend Smile Direct Club or similar programs with little or no oversight. Permanent damage does occur commonly.
How will wearing braces affect my social life?
You may feel jittery just thinking about showing up at work or a party with braces on your teeth! Of course, depending on the straightening method you use, they may or may not be extremely obvious. Most adults find people to be kind and understanding, even admiring their bravery at taking that step for their health and appearance. You’ll likely hear quite a few positive comments, such as, “Good for you!” The initial novelty will quickly pass, and then people won’t even notice anymore. And, before you know it, the braces will be coming off, revealing a beautiful smile and a more confident you!
Some people find that it helps to share their experience through a blog or with social media groups of adults going through the same process. You can go to your favorite social media site and type in the search bar, “Adults wearing braces,” and meet some new friends! At the time this article was written, a group on Facebook called “Adults Braces Support Group” had over 9,000 members!
How much will it cost?
The cost varies, but you can plan on spending between $3,000 – $6,000. To get a more experienced orthodontist, you may need to pay a little more, but it will be worth it. Most will have a payment plan to fit your pocketbook and lifestyle. Others may offer discounts if you pay upfront. Here are some ideas that may help you save money:
- Get a second opinion.
- See if you can use a tax-exempt medical account.
- Enroll in no-interest financing.
- Apply for services at a dental school (such as the University of Iowa College of Dentistry).
- Ask if they have financial assistance and/or a discount.
Make sure your teeth and germs are clean and healthy before beginning any orthodontic treatment. If you are considering getting braces, we’d love to help you make it happen! You can set up an appointment today to meet with one of our dentists, who will be more than happy to let you know if you are a good candidate for orthodontics. Westdale Dental is connected with local orthodontists and can point you in the right direction for straightening your teeth. No matter what you decide, we love your smile and look forward to seeing you here for your regular dental visits.