Adult Braces – What Are Your Options?

When you think about braces, you generally think about kids having to wear them.  But nowadays, you often see adult braces becoming just as popular!  According to the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), adults make up 25% of orthodontic patients across the country.


While many insurance companies do not cover adult orthodontia, there is a growing need for it and it’s not just the desire for a nicer appearance when you smile.  Many dentists and periodontists (gum specialists) refer their patients to orthodontists to have their teeth straightened prior to having crown/bridgework done or necessary gum or bone surgery. This will in turn help with the longevity of the treatment being done.

The New York Times interviewed orthodontists across the country and found that adult patients range in age from their 20’s to their 70’s with slightly more being women.  About half of those patients just wanted a better smile, while the other half were referrals from dentists and periodontists, or those that wanted to be retreated due to a shift in their teeth, or just had never sought treatment as a child and could now afford it.

There are several different options for you if you are interested in orthodontic treatment and there are a couple of options if you are concerned about the appearance of braces.

Generally, if your teeth are fairly crooked or rotated or if you have a major bite concern, orthodontists usually prefer to use metal brackets.  They tend to get the job done quicker just because they are stronger and can treat pretty much any type of orthodontic problem.

tom_cruise_bracesCERAMIC BRACKETS
From an esthetics standpoint, there are brackets that are made of ceramic and are tooth colored.  The bummer about these particular brackets is that the bonding material, which holds the bracket onto your tooth, can stain after time and also the little rubber bands that go around the bracket can stain and tend to pop off easily (speaking from experience).  The brackets themselves are tooth colored, but there will still be a metal wire running through them so at a glance, it will look like you are wearing a retainer (Fun Fact:  This is the option Tom Cruise chose when he had braces at the age of 40).

The other option is something called Invisalign®.  This is a great option if you don’t have a ton of rotation to your teeth and anything major that needs to be corrected.  Basically, Invisalign® works by using clear plastic trays that are made from impressions taken of your teeth.  These trays are held in place by a couple of dots of resin material placed on your teeth and notches made into the trays to grab onto that material.  These trays are removable so you can take them in and out to eat or to brush.  Usually, you need to go in to see your orthodontist anywhere every 2 weeks to once a month to get new trays as your teeth are shifting into alignment.  It’s a pretty amazing treatment, especially if you are concerned with the way braces look.  Most people won’t even realize that you are wearing anything.  Of course, this will probably be the most expensive route, but that is what one has to pay for looking good while getting straight teeth!

After your orthodontic treatment is completed, you will need to wear a retainer.  Generally, orthodontists would like you to wear these retainers for up to 6 months, all day and all night, only to remove them when you eat or brush your teeth.  They then would like you to wear them at night only.  Orthodontists are finding that retention is the key to keeping your straight smile, so continuing to wear the retainers at night is a great way to keep your investment in tip-top shape!

If you have any questions or concerns about braces and your options, please talk to any of the doctors or hygienists at Szmanda Dental Center and we will be glad to give you a general rundown of options.  We have several great local orthodontists that we work with and trust that we will be happy to refer you to.

Information compiled from the American Association of Orthodontics, The New York Times, WebMD and Staff at Szmanda Dental Center  © Szmanda Dental Center, S.C. 2012    photo credit: Lynn Friedman via photopin cc