You’d be surprised by the high number of adults that opt for orthodontic treatment. In fact, the AAO has estimated that roughly 27% of all Canadian and American orthodontic patients are adults. This means that just because you may be out of adolescence, doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your dream smile!
Starting orthodontic treatment as an adult may actually provide you with an advantage. Dr. Morris Poole, President of the American Association of Orthodontics, recognizes that adults tend to be far more careful with their braces than younger people are known to be. As an adult, you may view it as an investment in yourself and your oral health, and will see to it that you’re getting the most out of that investment. Adults may be more determined to complete their treatment in a timely manner as well, leaving little room for error and careless habits.
He also estimates that around 1 in 5 orthodontic patients is an adult. So if you’ve been looking longingly at Hollywood smiles for some time now, wishing you could have that same immaculate, straight grin, just know you aren’t alone in pursuing it!
We want to provide our patients with all the resources they’ll need so they’ll fully understand their orthodontic treatment, why they may need it, and all the benefits adult braces can have. Let’s first talk about why adult braces may be needed!
- Why Do Adults Choose to Straighten Their Teeth?
If you’ve had a relatively crooked smile your whole life, some of your friends and family may be asking you why now? You’ve gone your whole life with the same smile, what’s the point of getting braces at this stage in your life?
It’s never too late to get braces - they work for patients of almost all ages, and have been proven to combat minor to severe dental irregularities across the board. However, they aren’t only used for straightening teeth.
Braces can correct irregularities that have the potential to lead to more serious problems down the road than just having a crooked smile. Braces correct common dental issues such as gaps, overlapping, and a misaligned bite. All of these issues can make brushing and flossing difficult, and may even lead to plaque buildup and a future of gum disease. It makes complete sense to get braces for oral health reasons - it’s been done countless times before!
You may also be considering orthodontic treatment if you currently face one or more of these issues:
All of those listed above are also completely valid reasons to seek treatment through braces! If you’re experiencing any of these irregularities and want to pursue treatment, the first thing you’ll do is set up a consultation with an orthodontist so they can determine the best course of action. They’ll never recommend treatment without first examining the issue, and having a discussion with you about your wants, needs, and general expectations.
- The Consultation
Once you’re in that chair, your chosen orthodontist will perform a full examination that includes advanced technology such as x-rays of your teeth, bite, jaw, and the general relation all of these factors have to each other. This will give them an idea of what irregularities you’re facing, how severe they are, and what your treatment may look like.
Once they’ve come up with a plan, they’ll share their diagnosis with you, and discuss the treatment plan they feel will best suit your orthodontic needs. Your diagnosis isn’t the only thing that will have to be discussed, however; braces involve a financial conversation, as well as one that revolves around the desired timeline, and how willing you are to comply with the requirements of ortho treatment. We understand that it never seems like a good time to get braces, but making a firm commitment to them and getting the process over with will always benefit you down the road!
- What to Expect When It’s Time to Get Your Braces
This can be both an exciting, and nerve wracking time! Many adults don’t know what to expect when their treatment plan has been crafted, their consultation has ended and it’s time to really begin treatment.
Before you begin, make sure that if you have any questions, you’re communicating them to your orthodontist. They’ll be able to ease your mind, and provide you with all the necessary information you’ll need to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
The entire process of having your braces fitted and bonded takes less than one hour. There is absolutely no pain, and no freezing involved - it is a virtually painless procedure that’s over before you know it. You may experience some mild discomfort shortly after, but this will only last a few days, and can be easily managed with over the counter methods like ibuprofen.
Getting braces put on goes a little something like this:
- Your orthodontist will polish and dry your teeth so they’re properly prepared for braces
- They will apply bonding glue, and then attach the brackets, which are the small metal squares you may recognize from seeing other’s braces.
- The archwire will then be placed in the brackets, and secured with elastic bands.
Try to eat softer foods for the next day or two, until your discomfort has eased and you become used to the feel of the braces in your mouth. Things like mashed potatoes, ice cream, soup, and pudding are perfect for those recovery days!
- What Timeline to Expect for Adult Braces
In some cases, depending on how severe your case is, treatment may take a little longer as an adult. You can expect your orthodontic treatment to last anywhere from as little as one year, to as long as three years.
This is also a factor that you can discuss with your orthodontist prior to commencing treatment. They’ll be able to estimate your treatment length based on your diagnosis and treatment method, and discuss it with you to make sure you’re on board.
Remember to be patient! One to three years may feel like a long time, but it’s a small sacrifice to make in exchange for spending the rest of your life with straight, healthy teeth! A small fraction of your time is certainly worth a perfect smile.
- What Your Life Will Be Like
Treatment is recommended earlier in life because adult teeth don’t move as easily - because of this, some initial discomfort is to be expected. Your teeth can be fixed in all the same ways, it may just take a little longer, and be a tad more noticeable! Luckily, these first few days off discomfort fade off quickly.
You’ll also be paying far more attention to your oral health, and your oral hygiene routine. Braces require quite a bit of maintenance and upkeep, and it’s important to keep your brackets clean and free of any build up.
So, expect to be brushing your teeth after every meal in order to prevent build up! If you don’t already floss once per day during your brushing routine, this will also be something you’ll have to embrace. Flossing is important for dislodging any remaining debris from in between your teeth, and is a crucial part of your oral hygiene routine.
Your diet may also need to change, even if it’s just a little bit. In order to aid your improved hygiene routine, you should start limiting your intake of foods that are particularly high in starches and sugars. These can stick to your teeth and cause cavities, if you aren’t careful. By controlling how much or how little you consume, you can take great care of your teeth and help aid your orthodontic treatment.
- Just Remember: It’s all worth it!
This may seem like a lot of conditions and challenges to overcome, but it’ll be worth it in the end - after all, you’ll finally be getting your perfect smile!
Having braces will ultimately help your long term oral health, your self-confidence, and, of course, the aesthetics of your smile! Frankly, we can’t think of any reason not to go with adult braces!