Braces have evolved over the years. No longer do you need to suffer the embarrassment of being a “metal mouth.” The brackets used today are smaller and have abandoned the bands that once wrapped around the tooth. It is a great time to wear braces! Today, wires are less noticeable and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort. In part one of this article we laid out the benefits of braces in adulthood, this week we explain your options for adult braces.
Orthodontic appliances are usually made of metal, ceramic or plastic. Whether removable or bonded directly to your teeth, braces work by creating a constant force in a carefully controlled direction that gently moves teeth into a corrected position.
Types of Adult Braces
- Metal braces, made of high-grade stainless steel and attached to the front of teeth, are the most common. These are what you think of when you reminisce back to embarrassing middle school days.
- Clear ceramic braces are worn on the front of the teeth just like traditional steel braces. Ceramic braces are popular with adults because of their cosmetic appeal. They are made of a translucent material. And unlike metal braces, they blend with the color of the teeth for a less noticeable appearance. They may look better, but they may break more easily than metal braces.
- Lingual (or concealed) braces have brackets that attach to the back of teeth, so they are hidden from view.
- “Invisible” braces are a series of clear, customized, removable appliances called aligners. Not only are these braces less visible, but they also are removable so they won’t trap food and plaque between your teeth like metal braces. You wear each aligner for about two weeks and only removed for eating, brushing and flossing. Invisalign provides a great option for adults with mild oral issues!
Duration of Treatment
- Treatment time ranges from 18-24 months, depending on the type of hardware chosen. Each person’s set of teeth and oral bones differ, so treatment varies by case.
- Patient compliance is probably the biggest determinant of treatment length for adult braces. Being a good patient means scheduling regular orthodontic visits, consistent brushing and flossing, eating the right foods, notifying your orthodontist of broken equipment, and actually wearing your hardware as prescribed. You should anticipate orthodontic visits every 6-10 weeks.
Things to Think About
If you’re considering orthodontic treatment as an adult, here is what you should keep in mind.
- By the time you reach adulthood, your oral bones stop growing. This means that some structural changes to your jaw / oral bones cannot happen without surgery.
- Orthodontic treatment often takes longer for adults than children. While the time it takes to straighten teeth varies by person, average treatment lasts about two years.
- Adults may need to see a periodontist as well as a general dentist and orthodontist to ensure that the treatment is not complicated by bone loss resulting from gum disease.
Have you ever considered braces during adulthood? The staff at Greenspoint Dental are here to answer any of your questions!