Can adults benefit from orthodontic braces?
Absolutely! Previous generations believed that only children’s teeth could be straightened effectively. Now we know that isn’t true. Today, an increasing number of adults are choosing to wear braces to straighten their teeth and correct malocclusion. In fact, it is estimated that almost one-third of current orthodontic patients are adults.
Braces work the same way for adults as they do for children, but, because the adult’s jaw is no longer growing, achieving that perfect bite may take longer. Progress also can be affected by gum disease.
What are the benefits of braces for adults?
Most orthodontists agree that straight teeth tend to be healthier teeth, and today adults of every age are improving their health and appearance with braces. Correctly aligned teeth offer many benefits, including:
- less general tooth decay, because food is less likely to get caught between teeth
- a decreased likelihood of developing periodontal or gum disease because there is less plaque buildup
- a decreased likelihood of tooth injury
- fewer digestive disorders when bite is improved
- increased self-esteem and confidence from having an attractive smile
How do I know if I need braces?
Your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and bite. The most common types of malocclusion are underbite (the lower teeth protrude farther than the upper teeth), overbite (the upper teeth protrude farther than the lower teeth) and overcrowding, where there is insufficient space in the mouth to accommodate the full complement of adult teeth. It’s also possible to have a crossbite, where the teeth are misaligned from side to side.
If your orthodontist recommends braces, you will first be asked to treat any pre-existing dental conditions such as gum disease, excess plaque and tooth decay. Braces can make these conditions worse.
Will I have to live with a mouth full of metal?
The days of metal-mouth are long gone. Now, orthodontic braces come in many styles, from small, thin brackets and wires to clear brackets to clear removable trays that are nearly invisible when worn. Your orthodontist will help you choose the style and look that will work best and look best for you.
What are the main types of orthodontic braces?
Traditional braces – These are the braces you remember from your youth, except they’re smaller now and made of new materials. They consist of individual brackets that are cemented to each tooth and connected with an archwire that constantly asserts gentle pressure on the teeth. Sometimes rubber bands also are used (they now come in colors). Traditional brackets are usually metal but are also available in clear synthetic material and “tooth-colored” ceramic to make them less visible. The ceramic brackets are generally more comfortable than the metal alternative but can become discolored by coffee, wine, smoking and certain foods.
Invisalign® – Invisalign braces are a series of clear, plastic trays, or aligners, molded to gradually move your teeth into their correct alignment. Invisalign is favored by many adults because the trays are removable for eating and cleaning and invisible to onlookers. For optimal results, they must be worn for the recommended amount of time each day. Invisalign aligners are more comfortable and less obtrusive than traditional braces, but they also tend to be more costly. Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign.