Whether you’re a teenager or an older adult, the thought of getting braces probably makes you cringe a little. Getting braces as a teenager might make you feel like there’s no way to run with the popular crowd. As for adult braces, you could feel like it’s a little ridiculous getting orthodontics at your age.
The fact of the matter is there are plenty of people in every age group who have braces of some kind. When it comes to adults, you’re never too old to get that smile straightened. And straight teeth are far from the only reason to wear them for a while.
You’re Not Too Old For Braces
Let’s get this one out of the way first. You aren’t too old to have braces. The American Association of Orthodontists says about 27% of people 18 and older in the U.S. and Canada wear braces.
Ideally, your teeth would come in perfectly straight from the get-go and stay that way forever. As with everything else in your body, things just change when you age. The case is the same when it comes to your teeth. They are going to shift some as you add on the years. That means even though you didn’t need them as a kid, braces could benefit you when you’re a little older.
Now, many times childhood is the best time to have orthodontic work done. Since adults have stopped growing, there are some structural changes that could require surgery. But for the general straightening of your teeth, an adult won’t be at much of a disadvantage compared to a child. Braces will work the same way no matter your age.
Straight Teeth Aren’t the Only Benefit
When you think about getting adult braces, you probably are only thinking you’ll have a straighter smile. While that’s the most immediately noticeable result after wearing them, there are several other pluses to going through the treatment.
After your teeth are moved into their correct positions, it can help reduce or eliminate jaw pain by properly aligning your bite.
Once your teeth are straight, they will also be easier to clean. This can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. When you have teeth that are overlapping or crooked, it creates more places for bacteria to hide or get stuck. That increases your chances of developing cavities or getting a buildup of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. Correcting the positioning of your teeth removes these risks.
With your oral health being improved, you’re also improving your overall health. Gum disease has been tied to things like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Lowering your risks of oral health complications reduces your chances of developing those other health conditions by association.
You’ve Got Options
The look of traditional braces is what turns many adults away from going through with the treatment. While that will be your cheapest option, it’s not the only option.
The most common solution is a clear aligner like Invisalign. These clear trays won’t be noticed by anybody else, but they’re just as effective as traditional braces in most cases. Your orthodontist will map out your treatment plan, and you’ll use a different set of trays periodically throughout the course of the treatment. The tradeoff is going to be the cost. This will most likely be the most expensive option available.
For something that sort of splits the difference, you can go with ceramic braces. While people will still be able to see them on your teeth, they’re less noticeable than traditional metal braces. Their color matches fairly closely with the color of your teeth, which makes them more subtle than metal ones. The price for these usually falls somewhere in between Invisalign and traditional braces, too.
More Pride in Your Smile
Your smile is one of the first things people will see when they meet you. Having straight, pearly white teeth can be a huge boost to your confidence, so don’t let your age discourage you from getting some type of braces. You can get that perfect smile you’ve always wanted with something other than traditional braces if it’s the look of them that’s dissuading you.
You’ve got a lot more to gain than just straight teeth, too. Correcting those crooked teeth is going to give a big boost to your overall oral health by correcting your bite and eliminating some of the nooks and crannies that can harbor harmful bacteria. Making your mouth easier to keep clean can help you bypass other health problems in the long run.
For teenagers, having the wrong look can be the end of the world. Two things that are at the top of that list of “the worst things that could ever happen” are having to get glasses or braces.
In reality, teen braces aren’t that bad. You just have to do a little prep work after you find out your son or daughter is going to have to get their teeth straightened. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can pave the way for an easier transition to braces and pick the best option available to fit your needs.
It’s difficult for a kid to understand, but you’ll have to get them to focus on the outcome. After they have gone through wearing their braces, they’ll have a perfectly straight smile that they’re going to love. Reinforcing that the braces aren’t going to be on forever and frequent reminders of the prize at the end of the rainbow can help ease the mental burden.
You can also help them realize that there are a ton of other kids who have to wear braces. Knowing they’re not alone can go a long way in helping them be receptive to getting those braces on instead of just dreading it.
After they start wearing braces, you’ll have to help them deal with the look. One of the best things they can do is just own it. If you get traditional braces, you can get any number of crazy color combinations. Go wild with it! Make it part of your look instead of being embarrassed by it. It’s like a whole other accessory to complete your ensemble.
If that idea doesn’t go over well, you can always try to draw attention away from the braces. Go with a color that more closely matches your teeth. Girls, especially, can do this. Instead of wearing a bright-colored lip gloss, try doing something a little different with eye makeup or wear some flashy earrings.
Guys might have a little bit more trouble accomplishing this, but one thing they can try is getting a new haircut. Pulling the attention from your mouth to the top of your head could help you feel more like people aren’t just staring at your teeth (even though they probably aren’t anyway, don’t forget).
Last but not least, try to sympathize with them. It’s going to be a little painful at times, and they aren’t going to be able to eat all of the things they may be used to eating.
Keep an over-the-counter painkiller on hand for those times where a little pain flares up. Adjust your grocery list so you don’t have things in the house that they can’t eat, like apples, chips, and hard candy. If you forego those things with your kids it will help them feel like they aren’t being left out instead of watching you chow down on a bag of chips. Just be considerate.
Exploring the Options
The type of braces you end up choosing will narrow down what kind of approach you should take in helping them successfully straighten that smile. You’ve got a few main options to choose from.
While they have gotten improvements over the years, traditional braces are the first thing everyone thinks of when they find out they’ll have to get treatment for crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw.
With this method, your teen will have a metal bracket on each tooth. Those brackets will have a metal wire connecting each bracket. Those wires are connected to the bracket using an elastic band. Those bands are where your teen can pick any combination of colors depending on what kind of look they’re going for.
When it comes to traditional braces, there are a few things to consider. This is going to be your cheapest option. Depending on your financial situation, that could be the deciding factor.
That lower cost comes with the caveat that traditional braces can be a little more tricky to maintain. The wearer will have to make sure they’re cleaning around the brackets and in between the wires to maintain proper oral hygiene.
If your teen is a little more forgetful, traditional braces might be the way to go because they won’t have to remember to take them out before eating and put them back in afterward, as is necessary with something like Invisalign. That will also ensure the time the braces have to be worn won’t be extended due to simply neglecting to wear them.
The ceramic variety of teen braces function the same way as traditional braces. The difference is they are made of a transparent or clear ceramic material that is less noticeable than metal braces. They will blend in more with your teen’s teeth. They can also be effective more quickly than traditional braces, meaning your teen won’t have to wear them as long.
As you may have guessed, those perks come along with a slightly higher price tag. It’s also a little more imperative that your teenager practice very thorough oral hygiene with ceramic braces. If not regularly cleaned very thoroughly, this type of braces can leave stains on your teeth.
There’s a pretty good chance Invisalign will be your child’s top choice. It’s a series of clear trays that are molded to fit the wearer’s teeth. Each new set of trays will help shift the teeth slightly until the desired movement is achieved.
These are basically invisible when worn, which totally eliminates the biggest issue most teens seem to have with wearing braces. The downside is they’re going to be more expensive. You’ll also need to make sure your son or daughter is extremely responsible. It will be up to them to take out the trays when they eat and put them back in when they’re done. If they aren’t worn often enough, it’s going to prolong the amount of time it takes to get the teeth straightened.
Even if Invisalign or another type of clear tray-type device ends up being your preferred choice, you still might not be able to use them. Some more extreme cases or certain conditions aren’t treatable with this method, so you’re limited to traditional or ceramic braces.
Making the Decision
Ultimately, you’re going to have to sit down with your orthodontist to really flesh out which option is the best for your situation. Using this information, you’ll be able to have a good idea of what your preference is beforehand, but when it comes down to your teen’s individual needs and what you can afford, that preference might not be an option.
Either way, supporting your teenager through this in every way you can is going to make it a more successful treatment and a more pleasant experience for the whole family. Good luck!
Whether you’ve been told by a dentist that you need braces or you have just decided you’d like a smile that’s a little bit straighter, your research will likely focus on Invisalign vs braces.
The traditional braces have been around for a very long time, while those invisible tray aligners are relatively new to the game. Still, both have proven to be effective, so how do you know which is right for you? Let the debate begin.
Can handle minor or severe cases
Can’t be removed daily
Can be removed at any time
Can’t treat more severe cases
More noticeable than Invisalign due to being metal/bulkier
Clear, can’t be seen while you’re wearing them
Don’t have to remember to put them back in after eating/drinking
Brushing around brackets/wires makes tooth maintenance more difficult
Easier to clean and maintain
Have to remember to keep them in for at least 20-22 hours every day
Works well for straightening back teeth
Bulkier, can cause discomfort
Thinner and less noticeable to the wearer
May not work on back teeth
How Braces Work
Traditional braces are made up of metal or ceramic, some wire, and a type of glue to make them stick to your teeth.
Once you have a referral from your dentist, you’ll set up a consultation with an orthodontist. The orthodontist will examine your mouth and maybe take some x-rays to design the best treatment plan for your individual needs.
When you get the braces put on, your teeth will be cleaned and conditioned, then the orthodontist will affix all of the brackets to your teeth using the placements determined in your treatment plan. Wires will then be cut and placed between the brackets. Over a period of time, those wires will pull your teeth into the correct position. You visit the orthodontist every 4 – 8 weeks so the wires can be adjusted as your teeth move.
How long you’ll have to wear braces will depend on several factors. The severity of your misalignment or any jaw problems will lead to a longer time wearing them. Generally speaking, most people end up with a treatment period of about 1 – 3 years. Making sure you stick to all the instructions from your orthodontist can shorten your time a little bit.
How Invisalign Works
While Invisalign uses the same principle as braces to straighten your smile (applying directional force to your teeth to move them in small increments until they’re in the desired position), this method doesn’t use any ceramic or wire. It uses clear trays that fully cover the teeth.
Just like with braces, an orthodontist will examine your mouth and then use x-rays and/or other digital imaging techniques to make a mold of your teeth. They will use that mold to design the best plan to get your teeth positioned correctly. From that plan, they will be able to make a series of those clear trays. Each one of those trays will move your teeth a little closer to the end goal. According to Invisalign, the average treatment takes 12 – 18 months, and you’ll change your trays every week or two. This method puts a little more of the onus on the patient because the trays can be taken out at any time. You have to make sure you’re wearing the trays at least 20 – 22 hours a day for them to work as they’re intended.
Which One Will Work Best for You?
Unless you have one of those cases that just won’t work with Invisalign, the choice you make will come down to which one of these options fits your situation the best.
One of the first questions you might be asking is, “how much is this going to cost me?”
On average, Invisalign will run you about $3,000 – $7,000 while traditional braces will be more like $2,000 – $6,000 (these prices don’t take insurance into account). The price will depend on how severe your case is.
You also need to ask how responsible the patient is. If you’re an adult that’s considering this, you might be responsible enough to take them out every time you eat and put them right back in when you’re done (after brushing your teeth, of course. You have to brush every time before you put your Invisalign in). On the other hand, if you’re looking for your child you might not have as much confidence that they’ll actually wear the trays like they’re supposed to. Not having to remember to take them out and put them in is a bonus in this department.
If you don’t want people to know you’re wearing them, Invisalign trays are the only way to go. They’re clear, so nobody will be able to tell you’re wearing them. Braces, while they have come a long way, are going to be much more noticeable. That might not be a terrible thing to some people, though. Many choose to turn their braces into an accessory by varying the color of bands or brackets they use.
Your lifestyle will also be a big deciding factor. People who play contact sports on the regular might be better off opting for Invisalign. Anyone who has worn braces before and been hit in the mouth will tell you it’s not fun having your braces cut your lip (as if it wasn’t already bad enough that you got hit in the mouth).
All Straightened Out
When it comes down to it, you can’t really make the wrong choice. Both methods are going to have the same result: that smile will get straightened out just like you want it. It’s likely to help you improve your overall oral health, too, since you’ll be paying closer attention to cleaning your teeth and gums.
If you can’t decide for yourself or are worried you might have a case that is too severe for Invisalign or other clear trays out there, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your dentist. And once you get started stick to your treatment plan. After all, you’ll just end up wearing your braces or trays longer.