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Braces for Adults: How to Make the Decision

Braces aren’t just for kids. You might want to consider them when you’re past the teenage years for a number of reasons. There are many options to get the best smile you can!

How Braces Can Help

Correct shifting teeth. Having had braces as a kid doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. “Teeth tend to move a little throughout your life,” says Michael B. Rogers, DDS, past president of the American Association of Orthodontists.

Straighten crooked teeth. Braces can line up teeth that are bending in different directions.

Better oral health. Straight teeth are easier to brush and floss. If you’re doing your part, you can expect less decay and healthier gums, says Pamela K. McClain, DDS, past president of the American Academy of Periodontology.

Braces can help you manage some more serious issues, too, such as bite problems that cause jaw pain. You also may sometimes need to get braces to change the position of teeth before getting a new bridge, crown, or implant.

New Options

Braces today are a lot different from the ones you may remember when you were a kid. Many are hard to notice right off when other people are looking at you.

Some choices for you are:

Ceramic braces. These are made of a white material that’s much less obvious than traditional metal braces.

Lingual brackets. They’re attached to the inside surface of your teeth that faces your tongue. They hold wires that pull them into a new position.

Custom-made clear plastic aligners. They fit like guards over your teeth and gently move your bite into a new position.

What to Expect

How long you’ll need to wear braces depends on the type you get and what you’re trying to fix. The length of time ranges from 12 to 44 months.

“Adult teeth sometimes take longer than children’s teeth to move into new positions,” Rogers says. “But in many cases, there’s no real difference.”

You’ll need to take extra care cleaning your teeth when you have braces. Brushing after every meal and at bedtime is recommended.

Flossing is different when you have braces, but it’s crucial to help remove food particles and plaque. Your dentist will show you how.

Antiseptic mouthwash can also get into places that a toothbrush can’t reach, and it helps battle plaque and gum inflammation.

Once your braces are off, it is vital to have a retainer. A retainer is a mouthpiece made of plastic and/or metal that fits over the top of your teeth. It helps keep them in their new positions.

The cost of braces can vary, depending on the type you get and what problems you’re trying to correct. A growing number of dental plans cover all or part of orthodontic treatment.