Braces are a very common method of correcting a smile, particularly in younger children and teens. The chances are quite high that you know someone who has or had braces at some point in their life. Most dentists recommend having corrective procedures earlier in life, typically adolescence and teenage years, because your teeth (like the rest of your body) are a little more malleable and flexible when you are younger.
However, some people choose to wait until later in life to get braces. Some may go through some sort of incident that makes their teeth crooked, or some may have been unbothered by the slant until later. Sometimes, even if the problems are minute, people may still choose to correct whatever problem they see.
There are many reasons one might need braces later in life, but the question is this: What are the options for adult braces?
1. Conventional Braces
Traditional braces are typically metal or wire fixtures. These are usually used in instances where there is a significant gap to be closed or adjustment to be made.
In the past, these braces typically meant a metal band around every (or nearly every) tooth in order to be properly secured. It was an effective but uncomfortable and invasive method of correction.
Nowadays, though metal braces might still seem a bit primitive, there have been massive improvements. They now typically require only a single bracket, secured on one of the teeth in the front of the mouth, and then anchored by a few wires at the back of the mouth. This method achieves the same results as the braces of old, but with far less wiring and a bit less maintenance.
The biggest advantage of traditional braces is that they typically have the shortest treatment time. The wires are progressively tightened over time to slowly and naturally adjust the position of the tooth in the mouth by allowing it to adjust itself. This means less healing time and less wearing time.
The disadvantage remains the same as it was in the past – if you value your looks, even with the advancements, it is still a conspicuous method. There’s no hiding the bracket and wires in your mouth. However, this option does tend to be the most affordable in many cases, and a shorter treatment time might be worth the temporary discomfort and clunky smile in the long run.
If brackets and wires are not your cup of tea, then aligners might be your next best option. Aligners like Invisalign are becoming more popular and mainstream than even traditional types, namely because they are clear and less noticeable than their classic counterpart. These are clear thermoplastic covers for your teeth that are usually smaller and softer than metal braces and thus more comfortable.
The fact that they are clear means they are much less noticeable than braces. However, there are a few disadvantages to this method – although many people still choose these invisible aligners, in the end.
The biggest downside is that these aligners come with quite a bit of personal responsibility. Most brands, such as Invisalign, are meant to be worn for most of the day – only to be removed when eating or brushing your teeth. However, once you have finished, you have to remember to put the aligners back in. Furthermore, they have to be switched out quite often, usually biweekly. Remembering these details is imperative to the success of the aligners.
The other major disadvantage is that these take longer than conventional braces. As they are not a permanent fixture in your mouth and must be adjusted each time with frequent consultations, they typically take 18 months or more to correct alignment.
However, the trade-off is still fair, assuming you are ready to take on the responsibility of remembering to wear them regularly. These clear aligners are less invasive and do not affect how you brush or floss, so if metal braces are unappealing, this might be what you need.
3. Damon Braces
Like traditional braces, these are metal and utilise wires to hold and adjust the teeth to the desired position. However, unlike classic bands, these braces use a sliding mechanism that self-adjusts when the teeth begin to move. This option, while initially more expensive, is becoming increasingly popular.
The self-adjusting mechanism means fewer trips to the orthodontist and no irritating elastic bands in the mouth, which are often the most tedious and irritating aspect of typical braces. Damon braces are still quite invasive and very clearly visible, but if aligners are not your style, these self-adjusting fixers will save you a few trips to the orthodontist, save you some money, and still leave you with a brand-new smile.
Ceramic braces are like a halfway point between Invisalign and traditional braces. They still use wires and brackets to straighten the teeth, but the braces are usually the colour (or a similar colour) of teeth in order to make them less conspicuous. Even the wire itself is usually the same off-white as the braces to disguise the mechanisms.
They work the same as traditional braces and usually share a similar treatment time. They also share the same potential discomforts, but if the trade-off is a shorter treatment time, many are willing to bear that particular burden.
The biggest pitfalls are that they typically cost more. This price accounts for the best materials and colours. However, many people view this option as a good balance between all the types. They are efficient, usually cost-effective, and less obvious than other versions.
Braces Are Not Bad
In short, needing braces does not have to be the end of the world, and wanting braces is not bad, either. With so many improvements in the industry, we have made some great strides in making it easier to get a perfect smile. No matter how old you are, you can find the perfect fit for you!