In the past, wearing braces was only recommended for kids and teens. However, with the development of technology, it is now possible for adults to get their teeth straightened with braces.
Reasons for getting braces as an adult
Dental offices are seeing an upsurge of older patients opting for braces. There are several reasons why adults would want to go for this form of orthodontic treatment:
- Crowding occurs where there is a lack of adequate spacing between teeth
- The upper or lower jaw appears to protrude, producing what is known as an overbite or underbite
- Speech issues caused by misalignment of teeth
- Jaw pain or symptoms caused by TMJ
- Difficulty in eating or chewing food
- Teeth clenching or grinding
- Well-aligned teeth are easier to clean as there are no nooks or crannies to worry about, preventing gum disease and tooth decay in the process
Aesthetics also play a significant role in why older patients opt to see their dentist for braces. Individuals who have clean, perfectly-aligned teeth appear more confident. Other than getting a boost in self-esteem, people with great smiles also get better work and business opportunities.
Factors to consider
Kids and teens are ideal candidates for braces for many reasons. Technology and more modern dental services make it possible for adults to get their braces done. However, there are several aspects to keep in mind if you are getting orthodontic treatment when you’re older:
- A person’s bones stop growing when they reach adulthood. This means any changes to the jaw bone or structural aspects can only be done through surgery.
- Because the bones have already set, the process also takes longer. In the case of adults, the process may take approximately two years or more.
- The orthodontic procedure in adults can also get more complicated. As a result, adult patients may also need to see and consult with a periodontist when surgery is needed.
Types and options
The traditional form of braces includes metal brackets affixed to the teeth with metal wires connecting the brackets and elastics keeping the brackets in place. Monthly visits are required to ensure that the wires remain tight and the brackets stay in the right position.
Other options include the following:
- Clear or tooth-colored ceramic braces are recommended for individuals who want their teeth corrected quickly but prefer a less visible option. Expect these braces to cost more than your typical stainless steel braces.
- Clear aligners such as Invisalign are removable dental appliances that can be worn almost throughout the day. Although they are unnoticeable, they are high maintenance and encourages the production of more saliva in the mouth. Aligners are not recommended for people who like to snack throughout the day.
- Lingual or incognito braces are attached at the back of the teeth, hiding them completely from view. These types of braces are more expensive and may require more time to use. Recommended for people who prefer less visible braces or work in an industry where braces can be obtrusive in their line of work such as athletes and musicians.
Before you commit
There is more to the tooth correction process than simply visiting the dentist to have the braces made, installed, and removed. Before you commit to the treatment, you need to be aware of and make time for the following:
- Regular checkups – Patients will need to visit their dentist more while they are wearing braces, aligners, or retainers. Approximately every four to six weeks, your dentist will check your braces and make adjustments when needed. Visiting their dental clinic regularly may be more difficult for busy adults, but it is a necessary component to ensure that the treatment is going well.
- What goes into your mouth – What you eat can knock out metal brackets or accidentally damage your retainers. As such, you have to be extra careful with what you eat and drink. Avoid hard, sweet, or sticky foods to avoid any issues.
- Longer cleaning sessions – Braces with metal brackets are more difficult to clean. Expect to spend more time brushing and flossing your teeth to ensure that you get to those hard-to-reach crevices.
How to find the right specialist
Getting braces as an adult can get complicated, and as such, it is important to choose a dental provider who specializes in these types of cases. Here are a few sample questions you can ask your dentist during your initial consultation:
- Are you a specialist orthodontist?
- Do you have any specific training or experience treating adult patients?
- What options would you recommend in my situation?
- How often should I visit, and how long will the treatment last?
- What should I do to take care of my teeth while the braces or aligners are on?
- What happens when the treatment is over?
These days, braces are no longer limited to the young. By following the tips set in this guide, you are in a better position to decide whether to have braces attached or not and how to go on about it.
Dr. Zul Paliwalla is the General and Cosmetic British Dentist at NOA Dental Clinic, specializing in smile-related concerns. With over 33 years of experience in the UK, Dr. Zul has successfully worked on and improved many internationally recognized smiles. He is a certified Invisalign® GOLD provider as well and has brought his elite expertise to Dubai not only to enjoy the sun, sea and sand, but also to offer his brand of personalized smile makeovers.