Is it too late to wear braces if you’re already an adult?
A common misconception among adults is that braces are only for kids or teenagers. For one thing, an adult wearing metal braces is a rare sight. While that might be true in the past, more and more adults seek orthodontic care and treatment today.
The American Association of Orthodontics conducted a survey in 2019. They estimate that 1.61 million adults are in treatment in the US. These were all-time high numbers.
Adult braces are gaining popularity thanks to innovative technology and techniques. Many are excited to learn that some treatment options are almost undetectable.
With that said, treating kids and adults with braces can be very different. While the process of aligning the teeth is similar, some concerns arise due to the older age. Learn about the differences between adult vs. children’s orthodontics below.
The Social Considerations of Wearing Adult Braces
Seeing kids and adolescents wearing braces isn’t an uncommon thing. But for adults, it’s a bit more complicated.
No adult would want to appear like a metal-mouthed high-school kid during a crucial business meeting. The concern for appearance is what often deters adults from seeking treatment.
Thankfully, you don’t have to look like you have a bear trap in your mouth unless you want to (some actually do). Orthodontic options like Invisalign treatment or clear ceramic braces don’t stand out as much. For more information, check out how adult braces can look more inconspicuous than braces for kids here.
The teeth alignment process is more involved in adults simply because of age. Adult teeth and jaws are already fully developed. The bones are tougher and denser, and the tissues around the teeth are more set.
Since braces work by applying pressure on the roots, shifting teeth into new positions takes longer for adults. Younger patients are still in the process of growing and don’t have these biomechanical limitations.
There are also other concerns that orthodontists don’t see in young patients but are common in adults. These include gingivitis, root resorption, bone loss, and inadequate blood supply. These factors can complicate orthodontic treatment.
Past Tooth Extractions
An adult may have had one or more teeth extracted in the past. It can be problematic because old extraction sites are often poor locations for teeth to be relocated. The orthodontist may need to add prosthetic bone to the area to accomplish proper alignment.
Kids typically won’t have this problem because they’ll likely have fewer tooth extractions. Closing extraction gaps is also easier since the teeth and jaws of younger patients are still experiencing growth.
Correcting Bite Issues
One of the primary reasons to seek orthodontic care is to correct a malocclusion or an improper bite. An adult with a deep overbite won’t have enough room inside the mouth for correction unless one or more teeth are extracted.
Wearing parts of the teeth down is also more likely to happen as you grow older. This condition may worsen the overbite and make bite correction even harder.
It’s Never Too Late to Achieve a Healthy, Beautiful Smile
Wearing adult braces indeed comes with more concerns than kid braces. Metal braces aren’t fashionable for adults, and the process is more involved and longer. But don’t let that discourage you from visiting an orthodontist and learning about your options.
While you may have to endure for a few years, achieving a perfect smile is well worth it.
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