Around one million adults wear braces in the U.S. and Canada. And that number continues to climb as advances in braces make it easier for adults to straighten their teeth. If you’ve always wondered about getting braces as an adult, read on. We’ll look at the many reasons — including health reasons — why getting adult braces is a smart idea.
Braces Improve More Than Your Smile
A lot of people believe that straight teeth are a cosmetic luxury that doesn’t have any medical merit. That just isn’t true. The state of your teeth is directly connected to a person’s health. When people have crooked or misaligned teeth, there are more crevices where food and plague can gather. Plague is the leading cause of gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to diabetes and heart disease. The good news is, there are many treatment options for gum disease. But, you don’t want to be in the position of needing treatment. Straight teeth are easier to clean and have fewer spaces where plaque can build up. In other words, straight teeth lower your risk of gum disease. Misaligned teeth can also lead to gastrointestinal issues. When people are not able to chew their food properly due to an improper bite or missing teeth, they may end up swallowing food that has not been properly masticated. You might be surprised to learn that a sore jaw and constant headaches could be caused by misaligned teeth. A chronic condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) occurs when crooked teeth place pressure on the joints in the jaw. As a result, these jaw joints turn swollen and painful. Having braces as an adult fixes or prevents TMJ.
Having Crooked Teeth Is Linked to Lack of Confidence
The psychological effects of having crooked teeth run deep. A recent study involving 1,140 youth found that problems with a teen’s teeth led to certain psychosocial behavior that affected an individual’s self-esteem. But that lack of confidence doesn’t go away when those teens reach adulthood. Research shows that people with misaligned teeth smile less than those with a straight smile. Many are so self-conscious about their teeth that they avoid social interactions, public speaking and even avoid talking to other people. If you feel self-conscious about the way your smile looks, having braces as an adult can give you new-found confidence that will last the rest of your life.
A Perfect Smile Improves How People Perceive You
Not only does the state of your smile affect your self-confidence, but it also plays a big role in how other people see you. One study looked at people’s perception of men and women with straight and crooked teeth. During this study, participants were presented with images of various people. They were asked to state their opinion of each person. The findings of this study were that those with a perfect set of teeth were seen as 45% more likely to get a job. This group of people was also seen as 58% more likely to be wealthy and just as likely to be successful. Other research shows that almost a third of Americans say that a person’s smile is the first thing they notice about someone’s face. In fact, 38% of Americans would not go on a second date with a person who has crooked teeth. That’s a bigger percentage than those who wouldn’t consider dating someone who lives with his or her parents! From making good first impressions to getting more dates, a smile full of straight teeth makes a big difference.
Braces Are More Affordable Than Ever
One of the biggest deterrent adults have for not fixing their misaligned teeth is fear of the cost. Especially if these individuals did not get braces as teens because their parents couldn’t afford them. But now you can! These days, braces are more affordable than ever before. Many more medical and dental insurance plans pay partial costs of having braces. And, all orthodontic offices offer payment plans that make paying for your braces possible. In fact, having braces could actually be less expensive than dealing with the consequences of misaligned teeth. The cost to have teeth extracted, fix cavities, fix cracked or chipped teeth, and fix gum disease can far outweigh the cost of braces. All of these are less likely to occur in a mouth of straight teeth. If you have spent quite a lot of money on dental treatments as an adult, you may be surprised at the money you can save by fixing your teeth once and for all. If you are a parent whose child also needs braces, you might save more by getting a bundle deal.
People Are Living Longer and Keeping Their Teeth for Life
Global average life expectancy went up by over five years from 2000 to 2016. This was the fastest life increase since the ’60s, according to the World Health Organization. More people are living longer as a result of more people living in good health. It is not uncommon to see elderly people with all of their teeth. Even seniors are opting to get braces later in life. The American Association of Orthodontists reports that there has been a rise of people who are in their 60s, 70s, and even 80s having braces. Because people are expected to live longer, many adults and seniors are choosing to invest in a perfect smile and enjoy it for the rest of their lives.
Braces Are Less Noticeable Than Ever Before
There have been many advances in braces technology in the last several decades. Gone are the big, clunky metal brackets that you recall from your childhood friends. Many options such as ceramic braces are hardly noticeable. Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that is virtually invisible and is removable. Now, we’ll cover the various types of braces in more detail.
Types of Braces
We already mentioned that there have been advances in the types of braces that are available. Now let’s look at each type of braces on the market so you can make an informed decision about which type would work for you.
These days, there are still traditional metal brackets with wires. However, the brackets are now much smaller and less invasive than they were in the past. These traditional style of braces are cost effective and get the job done. Individual metal brackets are glued to each tooth and set by a UV light. A wire is strung across each bracket and tighten to pull or push the teeth into proper alignment by the orthodontist. Each patient is different so there is no way to list a set amount of time that will be needed to correct your teeth. Your orthodontist may be able to give you an estimate.
Clear (Ceramic) Braces
Clear braces work in the same way as metal braces. The only difference is that instead of a metal bracket, each tooth has a clear or tooth-colored ceramic bracket. From across the room and in photos, the braces are barely visible. This is a good choice for adults who are worried about drawing attention to their mouths while they have orthodontic work done.
Lingual braces are one of the newest types of braces that are not visible when you smile. Lingual brackets are attached to the back of the tooth instead of the front as with traditional braces. This type of braces has been growing in popularity in the past few years. When you smile or talk, the braces are invisible to anyone facing you. If someone stood over you to look into your open mouth, they would be able to see the lingual braces, but, why would anyone need to do that? These braces work just like traditional braces with brackets and wires, yet lingual braces are smaller and custom-fit to your teeth. While traditional brackets are all the same size, lingual brackets are uniquely fitted to the size of your teeth. People who wear lingual braces report that there is a short adjustment period during which you get used to having brackets touching your tongue. However, after a few days, most people don’t notice they are there. Your orthodontist will give you wax that you can use on top of the brackets to protect your delicate cheeks and tongue from getting cut on the metal. These types of braces require a little more maintenance because it is harder to see if there is food stuck in your braces. That’s why this option is often better for adults than younger patients.
Invisalign treatments use clear trays to slowly adjust your teeth. The trays are created out of a clear plastic that matches your teeth exactly. Each new set of trays shift your teeth as you swap out the trays. People often use one set of trays for around three weeks before moving on to the next series of trays. These trays need to be in the mouth for 22 hours to be effective. The good news is that you can remove them to eat so that you don’t have to deal with food stuck in your braces. This is the most popular choice for adult braces.
Bottom Line on Adult Braces
We hope this article provided you with several good reasons why getting adult braces is a smart move. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist to discuss costs and treatment options. You might be surprised to learn that in just a few months, you could have the radiant, confident smile you’ve always dreamed of.