When people think of braces, they often picture a 12-year-old with a mouthful of metal. At one time, it was virtually unheard of for someone who was beyond their teen years to smile and show braces on their teeth. While that was an accurate perception at one time, that’s no longer the case. More and more adults, even those approaching senior citizen status, are now exploring the possibilities of straightening their teeth.
It’s easier now in some ways, as many of today’s braces are barely visible. And from a dentist’s perspective, it’s good to see so many adults taking care of their teeth. In some cases, maybe they wore braces during adolescence but weren’t so diligent about using their retainers afterward. For others, maybe their families couldn’t afford braces years ago, but their current financial situations make it possible for them to correct their teeth.
If you’re an adult who’s considering straightening your teeth, here are a few facts to help you understand what to expect.
For one thing, adults have to wear their braces longer than children do. If you opt to have braces, expect to wear them for up to two or three years. The reason is that children’s teeth continue to grow, but adult teeth don’t, so it’s a different set of rules in play. Also be aware that you might also need to wear a retainer permanently in order to keep your teeth from reverting to their original positions.
Also, there are a variety of models available. Metal is still on the market, but many adults prefer clear aligners because they’re not immediately visible, plus you can take them out. That said, though, it’s recommended that you wear your aligners 22 hours a day to get the most optimal results. There’s a trade-off, too; clear aligners are more expensive than traditional braces. In addition to clear aligners, there are what are called lingual braces, which connect to the back of your teeth instead of to the front, and ceramic braces. A problem with ceramic braces is that they can break more easily than other types and may be less comfortable to wear.
One question many adults ask is about pain. How much is involved if you choose to get braces as an adult? If you wore braces as a child or teen, you no doubt remember your orthodontist tightening and adjusting the pressure, which led to sore gums for a brief period afterward. The short answer is that, yes, there can be a little discomfort once you begin wearing braces, and after your braces are periodically adjusted. This is because your mouth needs a little time to get used to them. But you should get used to the pressure on your teeth, and an over-the-counter pain reliever will help minimize the discomfort.
Another big question I often get is about how much adult braces will cost. That’s a difficult one to answer, and it depends on a number of factors, but in general you’re looking at spending between $3,000 and $6,000. The so-called invisible braces are often more expensive than standard metal ones, and the reason for this is because they are more difficult to manufacture.
If you do decide to have your teeth straightened as an adult, be sure to take excellent care of them before, during and after your braces are put into place. This will ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible.
Before you do anything, talk to your dentist and ask him or her for an opinion regarding how to proceed. Because your mouth and dental health are important to your dentist, you’ll be getting educated insights. Your dentist will also suggest orthodontists and make a referral to the one that you both believe is the appropriate professional for the job.