Thinking about getting braces? Experts say it’s never too late. These days, adults make up nearly half of orthodontic patients hoping to finally get the perfect smile they’ve always dreamed about.
Braces have evolved considerably in the last 15 years. Breathe easy, the days of being a true “metal mouth” are over and more lightweight and cosmetically friendly options are out there.
“The [brackets] are smaller and we don’t use all the bands or appliances that wrap all the way around [the tooth] like we used to. Now, we use bonded brackets that are a lot smaller or the clear braces that are a lot more cosmetic as far as their appearance,” Michael Sebastian, DDS, an orthodontist in Atlanta, tells WebMD. Sebastian says this and less pain and time associated with wearing braces have more adults making the plunge. Sebastian says adults can expect to wear braces an average of 12 to 20 months.
But why now? Maybe the reason is as an adult you can afford braces when your parents couldn’t or you are simply more conscious of the cosmetic and health benefits of having straight teeth.
Most people want a great smile, and adults know that it can make a great difference not only in their personal but also their professional lives. Many say the payoff is worth the temporary inconvenience and expense of braces.
“Patients that I see now, I think there’s an initial concern, but if they really and truly want the braces, they’re not that concerned once they make the decision. Once they’ve made up their mind to get them, they fall right in because they either know someone that had them before or they’ve seen their kids go through it and they want the same thing for themselves,” says Duane Anglin, DDS, a dentist outside of Baltimore who decided to get braces during dental school. He says he has no regrets.
“From a professional standpoint, I think I’m a lot more comfortable walking in the room and saying hello, good morning, and meeting a new patient for the first time, because in the back of my mind it was always, ‘How am I going to be a dentist and have teeth that are not straight?'” he says.
Sebastian says age shouldn’t be a worry. He says as people live longer, he sees more adults of all ages interested in preserving their teeth. Senior citizens are even becoming more common in his practice.
Dental professionals say there are also health reasons for having a correct bite.
“With teeth that are in cross bite, teeth that are misaligned, there is an increased chance of plaque buildup, food buildup in between your teeth, which is a trickle-down effect because the more food buildup, the more plaque; therefore, the more concern for periodontal disease and gum disease,” Anglin tells WebMD. Improper bite also means you can’t chew food properly, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems, he says.