When you think of orthodontics, you may have flashbacks of your childhood, and even if you didn’t have braces yourself, you most likely had friends with a mouth full of metal braces (some even had to wear them twice!).
As a kid who never had braces, my mental image of braces growing up was Anthony Michael Hall’s character The Geek in Sixteen Candles. After a wild night in a stolen car with a beautiful cheerleader, he wakes up…still wearing his headgear. What a great patient, right?! After reliving these flashbacks, the thought of adult braces probably seems at the very least, scary. It shouldn’t be though; in fact, according to Delta Dental, an estimated 1 million adult patients over the age of 18 wear braces. Adults represent around 25% of all braces patients, and in our office, adults make up nearly 50% of our patients!
While getting straight teeth is a key part of future dental health for most young patients, it’s never too late for adult braces to help improve your dental health. Correcting the crowding of teeth or bite problems can improve your confidence as an adult, leading to some real life changes. In addition to the confidence and self-esteem that comes with having a beautiful smile you WANT to show off, aligned teeth can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, head or earaches, as well as biting and chewing problems. If you’ve ever considered getting braces as an adult, stick around and we’ll address some common concerns we hear from prospective adult patients.
Length of Adult Braces Treatment
With younger children and teens, braces are able to align the teeth and the jaws while both are still growing, making the overall process a bit quicker. Since adults’ jaws have finished growing, the teeth are generally set in place, requiring a slight increase in treatment time. Teeth can also move slower in adults due to the denser bone that comes with advanced age. The average treatment time for an adult with braces is 15 months to 2.5 years, however, each treatment plan at Saddle Creek Orthodontics is customized and may require a different length of treatment. Oftentimes, minor crowding or spacing cases can take less than a year, with some orthodontic treatment lasting just 4 to 5 months.
If you are worried about braces taking too long, there are some newer methods available to speed up treatment. AcceleDent is a device that uses pulse technology to initiate teeth movement. The device looks like a mouthguard with a small motor/handle attached and is worn daily for about 20 minutes. Research on AcceleDent is a little lacking at this point, but early indication is that it allow teeth to move quicker and more comfortably. Another method of accelerated orthodontics is called Propel, which involves placing a few tiny perforations around teeth that are difficult to move, causing quicker bone remodeling and leading to faster tooth movement. Both of these options are good for accelerating treatment and can get you on the road to a straighter smile, faster.
What Types of Braces Are There For Adults?
The braces of today aren’t like those you recall from your childhood. Our office specializes in several types of braces that are nearly invisible to the eye, and won’t interfere with your day-to-day routine. These options include:
- Ceramic Braces – This clear, or tooth-colored option (sometimes called porcelain braces) is nearly invisible from a distance, and can even use a similar tooth-colored tie and wire, making it even less noticeable.
- Invisalign – These clear plastic trays are nearly invisible and can be easily removed for brushing, eating, and drinking. The tooth movement is planned by an orthodontist and a lab technician. Then several sets of trays are fabricated and worn to strategically align the teeth.
- Lingual braces – Also known as Incognito or iBraces, these brackets are adhered to the inside surface of your teeth, with no visible hardware placed on the outside. They are custom fit brackets that are designed specifically for your mouth. The downside to lingual braces is that they may affect your speech and are usually a bit more uncomfortable due to increased contact with the tongue.
Of course, you can also go with the traditional metal brackets that are much smaller and less noticeable than ever before and still provide a great option for straightening teeth.
Living with Braces as an Adult
You’ll probably find a slight difference in how you chew, talk, or move your mouth as soon as your braces are bonded. These changes are natural, and you will adjust before you know it. While wearing braces, you will need to pay special attention to your brushing habits to avoid white spots, called decalcification, and to make sure food is properly removed from around the brackets. Other than that, you’ll find that today’s braces fit into active lifestyles and you’ll transition into them naturally.
In the picture above, our new patient Graciela rocks ceramic braces that are nearly invisible and don’t interfere with her busy schedule. Below, our patient Erin is all smiles after finishing her Invisalign treatment in just 5 months, all while juggling three kids with one on the way!
Having straight teeth not only affects your oral health, but also can impact your professional and social life as well. A confident smile is always in style, and it’s never too late to achieve this lifelong benefit!