If you think you’re too old to straighten your teeth, you may be surprised to hear that braces for adults are common and effective. People in their 40s, 50s, and 60s upwards can wear braces to fix crowding, misalignment, and spacing issues.
People often think of teenagers when they hear about braces. However, adults can experience the same results so if you ask yourself “Is 40 too old for braces?”, the answer is “Of course not”.
There are many benefits to having straight teeth as an adult. For one, you may feel more confident and happier about the appearance of your smile. Furthermore, straighter teeth make brushing and flossing more effective which can reduce the chances of gum disease.
According to WebMD, poor oral health has been directly linked to other health issues, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. So, healthier teeth can have tremendous health benefits.
By the end of this post, you’ll be feeling more confident about what the process of braces treatment as an adult involves.
You’ll also learn more about some of the cheaper alternative options. For example, if you have milder spacing or crowding issues, aligners, such as the ones offered by SmileDirectClub, could be excellent alternatives.
Differences between treatment for adults and teenagers
Whilst adults can receive brace treatment, just like teenagers, some fundamental factors make the process a little different.
Considerations for adults
● Adults have fully grown and formed teeth.
● The bones are harder.
● The jaw has fully formed.
● More time is required for adult treatments compared to teenagers.
Considerations for teenagers
● Teenagers are still growing and their jaws are in the process of forming.
● All of their permanent teeth may not have come through yet.
● The length of time for treatment is significantly less for teenagers.
How long does the treatment last?
The length of treatment depends on how complex the issues are. This can range from 6-12 months for less severe issues. For adults with more complex problems, the treatment can take anywhere from 18 months up to two years.
See our article: Orthodontics During Pregnancy.
What does the treatment look like?
Depending on your orthodontist and the specifics regarding your teeth, the treatment plans can vary. Having said that, you can expect the treatment to look similar to the following:
● You’ll start with a consultation with your orthodontist.
● They’ll examine your teeth/smile and talk about what you’d like the end result to be.
● They’ll then explain what they think the best treatment is, including braces or invisible aligner/retainer options.
● One study published on PubMed Central shows us that many adults prefer invisible/less inconspicuous options such as aligners or lingual braces.
● You’ll get an understanding of the costs involved in the proposed treatment plan.
● Some orthodontists use 3D dental scanners to create a simulation of what your smile can look like after treatment (these 3D scans can be done in line with at-home aligner options, such as Candid).
● Once you’ve chosen your method, your orthodontist will tailor a plan that suits you and give you a breakdown of the costs.
● The braces will be made and fitted.
● Once the braces have been fitted, you’ll have regular appointments so that your orthodontist can check the braces and make any necessary adjustments.
When you start nearing the end of your treatment, orthodontists usually recommend a composite bonding or teeth whitening kit as well as aligners or retainers.
Byte is a highly recommended option for teeth whitening and retainers. This is an at-home clear aligner therapy option that can be great for maintaining the alignment of your teeth after your treatment has ended. Their BrightByte teeth whitening product can be used in conjunction with their aligners.
Pros and cons of braces for adults
One of the main benefits of braces for adults is that they’re remarkably effective at fixing a range of severe alignment issues. This includes severe spacing or crowding. The proven results from braces are also consistent and reliable.
Therefore, you can feel peace of mind in knowing that the cost, initial discomfort, and regular checkups will be worth it to achieve the smile that you want.
When your teeth are more aligned, as a result of wearing braces, your oral health is improved. This has a direct link with improving your general health by reducing the chances of cancer, diabetes, strokes, and heart disease.
The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of oral health and has created a Global Health Oral Plan to combat the aforementioned health risks associated with poor oral health.
In addition to this, having your teeth aligned enables you to chew your food better. Forbes wrote an article about the effects of chewing food on your digestive system.
Adults with big gaps in between their teeth often suffer from digestion issues due to how it’s more difficult to properly chew their food. Their digestive system then has a harder time processing the larger chunks of food.
Straighter teeth that are closer together help adults to chew their food more thoroughly which in turn, helps their digestive system run more smoothly.
● Braces are expensive.
● Some get frustrated with having to wear a retainer once the braces are out.
● Must avoid certain foods whilst the braces are in.
● Some experience pain when the braces are being applied
● Gum sensitivity can increase.
Alternatives to braces for adults
The purpose of aligners is to gradually move teeth into the desired position. So, as an alternative to braces, they’re more effective than retainers. This is because retainers are used to simply keep the teeth in line once they’ve been straightened after wearing braces.
Aligners are clear trays that you place into your mouth to wear for 20+ hours a day. They’re only removed for brushing and eating. They should also be swapped out once every couple of weeks.
Candid is a fantastic aligner option that involves the help of professionals to ensure that you make the most out of the product. Orthodontists will examine and scan your teeth and tailor a treatment plan for you.
Clear aligners, such as Candid and Byte, or cheaper options like AlignerCo, are ideal for adults who would prefer a more inconspicuous option to straighten their teeth at home compared to braces. Not to mention, they’re more comfortable and cheaper compared to braces.
See our article: Alternatives to Braces for Adults.
Retainers are used after someone has completed their braces treatment as a way to maintain the corrected position of their teeth. For those with mild crowding or spacing, retainers can be a good alternative to braces.
NewSmile’s invisible retainers are an at-home option that helps with less severe crowding/spacing issues. For more details on NewSmile retainers, check out our in-depth review.
Lingual braces are similar to standard braces in how they work. The main difference is that the brackets are fitted to the back of your teeth instead of the front.
This makes them pretty much invisible. They work just as effectively as standard braces but the treatment is more expensive. You also still have to wear a retainer once the treatment has been completed.
Frequently Asked Questions
At What Age is it Too Late for Braces?
Braces are an effective solution to correct misaligned teeth regardless of age. However, if braces are used on adults who have fully developed jaws, the process of straightening teeth can be more lengthy and not produce such effective results as those seen in teenagers and younger adults.
Does Braces Treatment Take Longer for Adults?
Braces treatment for adults can take longer than it does for children, as our teeth become less malleable as we age. Orthodontists recommend that adults should start early with braces treatment, as the longer your teeth have been unevenly spaced or affected by jaw misalignment, the more time it could take to create an even smile.
Can Teeth be Straightened at 40?
It is possible to straighten teeth at any age. Advances in technology for correcting crooked teeth or misaligned bites make it possible for anyone to undertake treatment.
There are braces and aligners specifically designed to fit the lifestyle of adult patients of all ages.