For many preteens and teenagers, getting braces is a rite of passage. They might not be thrilled with the idea of wearing an appliance on their teeth for a year or longer, but they figure it’s what they have to do to get straighter, more evenly spaced teeth or better bite alignment.
For a long time, people assumed that braces were for the under-18 crowd only. It was rare to see an adult with braces and if someone did get braces as an adult, there was usually a dramatic story behind it.
That’s not so much the case anymore. Around 1.5 million adults were orthodontics patients in the US in 2014, a record high at the time. Dental practices that offer orthodontic treatment are starting to see an increase in the number of adult patients.
There are a few reasons why more adults are getting braces now than they were before. One major reason is that treatment options have improved considerably. Many orthodontic treatments are now practically invisible, taking the self-consciousness factor out of wearing braces. If you’re trying to decide if getting braces is the right option for you, here are a few things you should know.
Why Would an Adult Get Braces?
One of the primary reasons adults get braces is that they needed orthodontic treatment at a younger age, but didn’t receive it. Changes in the mouth that sometimes take place as a person gets older might also inspire someone to seek out orthodontic treatment.
While many adults consider braces solely to improve the look of their smile, some get orthodontic treatment for functional reasons, too. A misaligned bite can make it difficult to chew or might make a person more likely to lisp. Large spaces between the teeth can make it easier for food to get trapped and can contribute to tooth decay.
If you had braces as a kid, that doesn’t automatically mean you won’t need braces as an adult, especially if you didn’t keep up with aftercare, such as wearing a retainer. Plenty of adults who wore braces during childhood later learn that they still have some malocclusion.
What Options Do Adults Have for Braces?
Adult patients have a few options when it comes to the types of braces they can get. They can, of course, choose to have the traditional metal braces placed on their teeth, although that option is becoming less and less popular.
Invisalign is currently the most popular orthodontic option for adults. Treatment with Invisalign requires the patient to wear clear plastic aligners over their teeth for at least 22 hours a day. The entire treatment process usually takes between one and two years.
When undergoing Invisalign, you wear one set of aligners for about two weeks, then switch to a new set. Each aligner is shaped to gently put pressure on the teeth, repositioning them over the course of treatment. Since the aligners are clear, they are pretty much undetectable.
Another orthodontic option for adults is Wilckodontics or accelerated osteogenic orthodontics. Wilckodontics combines traditional metal braces with a surgical procedure to reduce the time needed to straighten and align teeth. The surgery involves the removal of some of the alveolar bone, which speeds up the alignment process.
Patients who decide to undergo Wilckodontics often see final results within eight months of starting treatment.
What Else Should You Know About Adult Braces?
Generally speaking, the experience of getting adult braces is different from the experience of getting braces as a kid. When you were a kid, your bones were still growing, making it somewhat easier for braces to work. Adults can still benefit from orthodontic treatment but are likely to find that their dentist recommends a longer treatment period or a procedure that combines orthodontics with surgery.
Another thing to know about adult braces is that they can be expensive and insurance might not cover the treatment. If you’re considering getting braces in the near future, it might be a good idea to choose a dental insurance plan that offers at least some coverage for orthodontic treatment during your next open enrollment period.
While you might have dreaded the idea of getting braces as a teenager, as an adult, they might be something you look forward to because of the benefits they offer. If you’re considering braces, be sure to check in with your dentist to learn more about your treatment options and for help choosing the treatment that works best for you.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who offers adult patients orthodontic treatment with Invisalign and Wilckodontics. To learn more about the benefits of braces for adults, call 305-547-8687 to schedule an appointment at Dr. Gallardo’s Miami practice today.