You may think that getting braces as an adult will be much like getting them as a kid—you go through a few months of mild discomfort, and emerge with beautiful, straight teeth. In truth, adults face a different set of circumstances and complications that need to be understood when considering braces.
Know Your Risks
Adult teeth aren’t like teen or preteen teeth. As you age, your teeth begin to naturally wear down. In general, adults are more likely than children to have suffered bone loss in their jaw and conditions like gingivitis or cavities. Adult bones and tissues are harder and have stopped growing, meaning they don’t recover from surgery or trauma as efficiently. If you have cavities or decay, your dentist may require that you wait to get braces until your teeth have healed, and oral surgery may delay the process even more.
Adults are more likely to have had teeth pulled in the past, and the site of an old tooth may not be able to support realigned tooth. In addition, adults are at higher risk of developing TMD, a painful inflammation of the temporomandibular joint. Make sure you thoroughly cover your medical history with your dentist to determine whether you and your mouth are healthy enough for braces.
Choose the Best Option
Take time to talk to your dentist about the best options for you. Your age, overall health, and availability may come into play when determining which type of braces will best fit your needs.
- Traditional Braces: these are the classic metal-mouth braces, which have brackets that are sealed to your teeth to guide a metal wire that gradually moves crooked teeth into place. If you’re concerned about a metal smile, ask your dentist about installing brackets on the back surfaces of your teeth.
- Ceramic Braces: if budget isn’t an issue, you may consider ceramic braces, which are nearly the color of your teeth and are a less noticeable alternative to traditional metal brackets.
- Aligners: like ceramic braces, aligners cost more than traditional braces, but are virtually unnoticeable when you’re wearing them. These retainer-like appliances move your teeth into place without the bulk of brackets and can be removed for eating and sleeping. Aligners are often fragile and can be easy to misplace, so make sure you’re up to the added task of managing them.
Many adults struggle with braces because they find it difficult to make time for checkups and dental hygiene. You likely don’t have your parent or guardian scheduling and escorting you to your dental appointments or watching over your shoulder to make sure you’re flossing between your brackets. Unlike children, who typically don’t control their own schedules, adult braces patients need to be willing to make time for dental checkups every 4 to 6 weeks.
If you’re an adult suffering from crooked or misaligned teeth, talk to your dentist about your options for braces and tooth realignment. He or she will cover important topics like the cost, risk factors and complications, and time management necessities of adult braces to determine which option is best for you. If you have questions or think you may need adult braces, contact Manus Dental Hyde Park at (773) 752-6600.