Adult Braces: Everything You Need to Know

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Adult braces are so on trend. In fact, more than 1 million adults in the U.S. and Canada are currently wearing braces. Which means, if you’re thinking about adult orthodontics, you’re not alone. 

There are so many reasons to get braces as an adult. As you get older, your teeth tend to shift, even if you had braces when you were younger.  This means many adults now notice crowded teeth, after years of enjoying properly aligned teeth. And that means they need teeth straightening to restore the look and feel of their healthy smile. 

Sometimes, adult braces won’t solve this problem alone. Some adults may need palatal expanders before getting braces, since your mouth and jaw may also narrow with age. In these cases, adult braces aren’t just a cosmetic treatment. Because, if your teeth are crowded, chewing and swallowing may be painful. Plus, overlapping teeth are harder to clean. So, without teeth straightening, you’re more vulnerable to tooth decay. Which means that teeth straightening at any age is important for your oral health, as well as your self-esteem.

Adult Braces Treatment Time

Now, you’re probably asking: how long will I need adult braces? Of course, my answer is: every patient is different. Treatment times for adult braces will vary. 

But, on average, adults wear braces for between 18 and 26 months. The time you spend in adult orthodontic treatment will depend on several factors. These include your jaw size, how crooked your teeth are when you begin treatment, and the type of braces you select. 

We’ll review those options in just a moment. But first, I want to remind you. Adult braces aren’t the end of your orthodontic treatment. After I take off your brackets, you’ll need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth in place. In some cases, I may suggest a permanent retainer in addition to a removable one, so your teeth straightening results won’t shift. But before we talk about getting your braces off, let’s review some of the choices you’ll have when it comes to adult braces. 

Metal Braces for Adults

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Of course, metal braces are the most traditional option. When I apply metal braces, I adhere the brackets to your teeth. And you can’t remove these braces without the care of an orthodontist. In order to deliver teeth straightening treatment for my Chicago orthodontist patients, I’ll gradually tighten the wires between your metal braces. This action forces your teeth to shift into a straighter position. 

When you have metal braces, you do have to be careful about the foods you eat. And you’ll need to pay special attention to your brushing technique, since food sticks easily to metal braces. Still, many adults choose metal braces since they can treat almost any orthodontic condition. 

Adults Choosing Clear Braces

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Some adults prefer clear braces (we also call them ceramic braces.) Clear braces are made from clear plastic or porcelain. Ceramic braces still require traditional metal wires. While they look like metal braces in structure, the clear braces make it harder to tell that you’re wearing braces. Naturally, many adults prefer this option because of its low visibility. 

Just like metal braces, clear braces attach to your teeth, and only your orthodontist can remove them. And, like metal braces, clear braces deliver teeth straightening through wires that we tighten at each orthodontist visit. Also, just as with metal braces, you have to avoid certain foods during your orthodontic treatment. So, because of these restrictions, some adults prefer a different type of teeth straightening: Invisalign. 

What is Invisalign? 

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Unlike clear braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth using clear, plastic aligners that you can easily remove when you eat, floss or brush your teeth.  Instead of tightening wires, your orthodontist will give you a new aligner every week, to accommodate your shifting teeth. The total number of aligners and months of treatment will vary based on the condition of your teeth before starting treatment. Not every adult will be able to use Invisalign for teeth straightening, but many will be good candidates. Your orthodontist will discuss your options at your adult braces consultation. 

Final Thoughts: Why Should Adults Get Braces?

Now you know all about metal braces, ceramic braces and Invisalign, you might wonder: do I really need braces at all? Of course, the choice is yours. But I’d like you to remember that getting braces isn’t just a cosmetic decision. 

When your teeth are straight, it’s easier to keep them clean. And that means lower risks for tooth decay, as well as gum disease. Which is a big deal, since we know that your oral health is also linked to your heart health, as well as your overall wellbeing.

For this reason, many insurance companies will cover some portion of the cost of adult braces. Meaning affordability doesn’t have to stop you from getting the smile you’ve always wanted. And, since you now know about clear braces and Invisalign options, you don’t have to be embarrassed about having braces as an adult. With all those barriers out of the way, are you ready to learn more about adult braces? Reach out to me today and we can get you started on a journey to straighter, healthier teeth! 


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