Braces are for adults, too
Approximately one million adults in North America today wear braces, and twenty percent of those seeking treatment from orthodontists are adults. Their reasons for choosing to wear braces are straightforward: they want to improve their oral hygiene, and they want to look better! Orthodontic treatment both stabilizes teeth and enhances their function, thus lowering the likelihood of gum disease and limiting the tooth decay often suffered as a result of crooked teeth or jaw disorders such as overbites. At the same time that they improve oral hygiene, braces also improve one’s appearance. Many adults report feeling greater self-confidence and less inhibition about smiling after having undergone orthodontic treatment.
The basics of adult braces
Adult b races today come in four basic varieties. The first and most widely used are the traditional metal braces, which consist of stainless steel brackets placed on the front of the teeth. A second variety is ceramic braces. These too attach to the front of the teeth, but many patients prefer them because of their transparent texture, which makes them less visible than metal braces. The same consideration causes some people to opt for lingual braces, which adhere to the back of the teeth and are thus completely removed from view. A final option for the orthodontic patient is aligners. These braces are both transparent and removable, and are therefore more convenient for eating as well as brushing and flossing. Depending on the variety of braces one chooses, the typical cost ranges between $5,000 and $6,000.
The average adult orthodontic patient wears braces for between one and two years, depending both on age and dental condition. During this period, patients using any of the first three types of braces noted above make periodic visits to the orthodontist in order to have the braces tightened. This may result in some mild discomfort, but it lasts only a short time. Some lifestyle adjustments are also necessary when wearing braces. These include limiting starches and sugars in the diet and avoiding foods of a rigid or brittle texture (nuts and popcorn, for example). Greater attention to brushing and flossing is also required in order to keep food and plaque out of the many small apertures in the braces.
When to consider adult braces
There are several indications that braces may be necessary. Crowded or crooked teeth, a recessed jaw, and protruding teeth are all common visual indications that braces are needed. Problems with chewing or speaking and grinding of teeth are also telltale signs that orthodontic treatment may be appropriate. People experiencing these or related difficulties should set up an evaluation with their dentist.