Adult Braces – Full Guide

adult braces
Adult Braces – Full Guide
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Getting dental treatment as an adult can sometimes take longer as your teeth have stopped growing by now. But there are several effective ways for you to have your teeth straightened without feeling bothered by how you look. The following article will go through all the traditional and new methods to have your teeth aligned.

What Are Adult Braces?

Adult braces are, as the name suggests, braces for adults. Do not be confused, they are no different from braces you would be prescribed if you were a teenager. The only difference may be that you opt for a variety of braces that are less noticeable as most adults feel self-conscious about having a ‘metal’ smile. The popular notion is that only children and teenagers wear braces and by the time you grow up, your teeth are fixed. But this is just a stereotype that often makes adults feel embarrassed about wearing braces and not being taken seriously.

Adults may want to opt for braces that are less noticeable or practically invisible. Technically though, any type of braces are adult braces.

Why Do Adults Need Braces?

braces for adultsThe common perception is that only children and teenagers wear braces. But the American Association of Orthodontists finds that one in four orthodontic patients are adults. Adults requiring braces is a common occurrence and is nothing to be surprised by. There are several reasons why adults may require braces. Perhaps, the problem was neglected when they were kids and has only become worse with age. Perhaps, as adults,  they have a larger spending capacity than their parents did when they were younger. Either way, more often than not adults get braces because the problem has been allowed to persist and was not tackled earlier.

There is no need to feel embarrassed or be conscious. Technology has advanced far enough for you to get dental treatment without even feeling a pinch.


Types of Adults Braces and Their Cost

There are several different types of braces that you can consider as an adult. As we’ve gone through on our adult braces cost guide, the price of each of these braces differ and will be decided depending on the duration of the treatment and the extent of work required on your teeth. The following are some of your best options:

Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are the conventional metal braces that you may have seen people wearing most often. These are metal brackets that are cemented on individual teeth and then connected through a metal wire. These braces also have ligating elastics that tighten each bracket and hold them in place. This entire system exerts pressure on parts of your mouth and gradually realign your teeth. If you have a case of overcrowding or have severe misalignment, traditional metal braces are your best option. There may even be some tooth extractions involved, though not always.

With traditional braces, you will be expected to visit the dentist often to have the ligatures tightened. According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, the cost of dental braces can be anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000 – making them the most affordable braces for adults. The final estimate depends on how much work is required and how much labor the dentist has to put in.

Pros

  • These type of braces are the go to if you have severe misalignment or are dealing with overcrowding. No other braces will be as effective in such a situation.
  • They are the cheapest compared to other alternatives.

Cons

  • Traditional metal braces can be uncomfortable as they require the ligatures to be tightened every now and then, which puts pressure on the gums.
  • They are the least aesthetic variety of braces.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are like traditional braces, but the main difference is that they are made of a gentler material and are often self-ligating, meaning they do not require ligatures. Ceramic braces are also not as discernible as traditional metal braces as they tend to be either transparent or of the same color as your teeth. Their self-ligating properties come from the fact that there is a memory wire that passes through the slide brackets which allow the brackets to move as your teeth get realigned. This movement ensures that the braces tighten over time.

In cases where the braces are not self-ligating, the elastics are typically transparent or are of the same color as your teeth. It is important to keep these ligatures clean as they tend to be porous and stain easily. Ceramic braces tend to be slightly more expensive than traditional metal braces as the material used to build them is costlier. It may cost you anywhere between $3,500 and $8,000. Among clear braces, these type of braces are a popular choice.

Pros

  • Ceramic braces are gentler than traditional braces and may be less painful.
  • The clear ceramic braces are far less discernible than metal braces.

Cons

  • Even with clear ceramic braces, the wire is still metal and visible.
  • The ligatures are porous and prone to staining, which defeats the purpose of clear braces.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are often called invisible braces. They are placed at the back of your teeth, facing the tongue (therefore, the term ‘lingual’). This is a popular choice for adult braces as these braces can hardly be seen and you do not have to feel conscious about smiling or opening your mouth. Lingual braces are slightly more complex to put in place than traditional metal braces. Since the back of your teeth is harder to access, each metal bracket is put in place simultaneously with the help of a customized tray. This is in contrast to traditional braces, where each bracket is cemented individually, one after the other. Lingual braces require a lot of customization and specialization, which is why they are also more expensive than traditional or ceramic braces. They can cost anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000 but due to their nearly invisible quality, they’re considered to be some of the best braces for adults.

Pros

  • These braces are practically invisible and allow you to go about your day with confidence.

Cons

  • They are the costliest of all the options presented.
  • They are hard to put in place and even more complicated to clean and maintain.

Aligners

Aligners are an increasingly popular form of dental treatment, that is especially sought after among adults. Aligners are typically made of clear, flexible plastic and are a removable device that help set your teeth in order. Invisalign is one of the most popular manufacturers for aligners. Getting treated through aligners means that your doctor will carry out multiple scans of your mouth and draw out a digital plan. This plan will detail, step-by-step, how the aligners will achieve the perfect alignment for your teeth. You will have to wear a set of aligners for 22 hours a day and change the aligners out every week or two for a fresh pair. The flexible aligners exert pressure on appropriate parts of your teeth and gums and gradually correct the alignment of your teeth. Their biggest advantage is that they are removable and even when you have them on, they are less noticeable than traditional metal braces.

Aligners are not priced very differently from traditional braces. They may cost you anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000, based on the US national average.

Pros

  • Clear aligners are practically invisible.
  • You can eat or drink anything provided you take good care of your aligners.

Cons

  • These are not the best option if you have more severe alignment problems.
  • Aligners are also easy to lose and may be costly to replace.

Ways to Pay for Dental Care

There are a few different ways in which you can pay for dental care. The following is a brief description of some popular methods:

Insurance

Check your insurance plan to see if it covers dental insurance. Your dental insurance is expected to cover traditional braces, but all of the alternatives should also qualify in the same way. Before going ahead with the treatment, you should also check with your dentist to see if they accept your insurance. Even if your insurance covers 20-30% of the whole amount, your out-of-pocket expenditure can decrease greatly.

HSA/FSA

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Financial Savings Accounts (FSA) are both ways for you to pay for certain things, including medical expenses, with tax-free dollars. Your employer manages your FSA, whereas you can open an HSA yourself. Check with your doctor if this is an acceptable mode of payment.

Monthly Plans

You can always come to an arrangement with your dentist about paying in monthly installments instead of upfront. You may be expected to make a down payment before the treatment begins but paying in installments may be less strenuous on your monthly budget. Dental treatment lasts at least a few months, sometimes even a few years. You can easily pace out the payment if your doctor is open to this possibility. Several clinics practice this.


Final Thoughts

Getting braces as an adult can be a frustrating and daunting experience. You may walk into a professional environment feeling conscious about the hindrance in your speech thanks to the metal wires in your mouth. But with rapid advance in technology, there are ways in which you can get dental treatment without the discomfort and embarrassment of having a ‘metal smile’.

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