February 3, 2010

Adult Braces

Braces are for Adults, too

Nearly a million US adults wear braces, and twenty percent of those who seek treatment from orthodontists are adults. The reasons they choose to wear braces are simple: they want to improve their looks and their oral health. Many adults say that they feel greater self-confidence and less inhibition about smiling after they’ve had braces.

Braces do two things. They help to stabilize teeth and enhance the way teeth work. This not only helps lower the chance of gum disease; it helps to limit tooth decay, which is often caused by crooked teeth or jaw disorders such as overbites.

The Basics of Adult Braces

Adult braces today come in four basic types. The first and most used are metal braces. These are stainless steel brackets that are placed on the front of the teeth. A second type is ceramic braces. These, too, attach to the front of the teeth, but many people prefer them since they are transparent, which makes them less visible than ones that are made out of metal.

Some people opt for lingual braces for the same reason. This type is fixed to the back of the teeth, which makes them hard to see. Aligners are the fourth option. This type is both transparent and removable. They are thus more convenient for eating as well as brushing and flossing. The price of braces depends on the type you choose. The typical cost ranges between $5,000 and $6,000.

The average adult orthodontic patient wears braces for between one and two years, depending on both their age and the condition of their teeth. During this period, patients using any of the first three types of braces noted above make periodic visits to the orthodontist to have the braces tightened. This may lead to some mild discomfort, but it lasts only a short time.

Some lifestyle changes are also needed when you wear braces. These include the need to limit starches and sugars in the diet and avoid foods that are rigid or brittle in texture (nuts and popcorn, for instance). Greater attention to brushing and flossing is also required to help keep food and plaque out of the many small holes in the braces.

When to Consider Adult Braces

There are several reasons why you may need braces. Crowded or crooked teeth, a recessed jaw, and teeth that stick out are all common signs that you may need braces. Problems with chewing or speaking and grinding of teeth are also signs that orthodontic treatment may be needed. People who have these or related problems should set up an evaluation with their dentist.