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Braces for Adults: A Complete Guide to Straightening Your Teeth

Thanks to modern innovations, straightening your teeth has never been easier, faster, or more discreet. Two of the most popular options? Lingual braces (which go behind your teeth) and clear aligners (like Invisalign®).

By Dr. Chris Salierno

Maybe you had braces as a kid and lost your retainer. Or perhaps you were able to avoid “brace face” status. Regardless, if you’re an adult looking to straighten your teeth, the orthodontic options available to you now are plentiful. Keep reading to learn more.

Aren’t braces just for kids?

The answer is no, braces aren’t just for kids. In fact, according to the American Association of Orthodontists®, one in three orthodontic patients are adults and choose to get their teeth straightened for medical reasons, cosmetic reasons, or both. Oftentimes, adults had orthodontics as a child and their teeth have shifted over time due to a variety of factors.

Benefits of straightening your teeth

Regardless of whether an adult has had braces or not, there are a number of benefits to pursuing a straighter smile including to:

  • Enhance your appearance and improve your confidence
  • Create a healthier mouth by making it easier to clean your teeth
  • Improve your bite (and help with chewing and speaking!)
  • Help provide pain relief
  • Ensure proper teeth and jaw function
  • Create a healthier smile and facial structure

Can you straighten your teeth after 40?

Real talk: You’re never too old for braces. Regardless of your age, the process of moving your teeth is the same. The key? Applying continuous and gradual pressure, either via brackets and wire (braces) or through a series of aligner trays (such as Invisalign) that gradually shift your teeth. So while straightening your teeth as a kid can be easier and more efficient due to growth and other factors, adults are still great candidates for orthodontics. Unsure if you need teeth straightening, book a free consult to find out.

Are there any potential drawbacks for adults?

Some adults hesitate to straighten their teeth because they think metal braces are their only option and aesthetically, this isn’t always the preferred choice. The good news? Many people are great candidates for clear aligners or lingual braces (hidden braces are a thing!), and both can be effective ways to straighten your smile as an adult.

Types of braces for adults

There are four main types of orthodontics for adults (and younger individuals, for that matter):

  • Clear aligners, like Invisalign
  • Lingual AKA “behind the teeth” braces, like Breezy Braces®
  • Traditional braces (metal braces)
  • Ceramic braces (similar to metal braces, but clear or tooth-colored)

Most adults tend to prefer aligners, but it is important to speak with your dentist or orthodontist to determine which type of orthodontic treatment will be best for you and your lifestyle. Book a free consult to learn more.

What are the differences between lingual braces and clear aligners?

What is it like to wear braces as an adult?

Straightening your teeth as an adult – whether via braces or aligners – requires a few lifestyle changes, but most people don’t consider orthodontics to be extremely disruptive. That said, any type of tooth movement may cause some mild discomfort and regular adjustments will be needed. You will also be expected to maintain your usual hygiene routine (brushing, flossing, using mouthwash) and you must continue seeing your dentist twice a year for an exam and cleaning.

How will braces affect my everyday life?

On a day-to-day basis, metal, ceramic, or lingual braces will require you to avoid hard, sticky, or chewy foods. In addition, brushing and flossing might take a little longer (and be a little trickier), but your diligence will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. To make your life a bit easier, consider investing in a water flosser or a special tool called an interdental brush. If you’re bothered by discomfort due to tooth movement, you can manage this easily with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Learn more: Cleaning your teeth when you wear braces

How much do braces for adults cost?

While the cost of orthodontic treatment will vary based on your individual plan, most adults can expect to pay between $3,000 (for simple cases that qualify for Invisalign Express) to $7,500 (for lingual braces). Luckily, many dental insurance plans offer orthodontic benefits up to $2,500 and at Tend, we always make sure to check your coverage to help you save on a straighter smile.

Alternatives for straighter looking teeth

If braces or aligners aren’t your thing, or for some reason you don’t qualify for orthodontic treatment, an alternate plan may be available to help you achieve your dream smile. For some, restorative treatment – such as bondings, crowns, or veneers – can be used to make teeth look straighter. This type of dental work can help change the size, shape, and/or color of the teeth.

So, are adult braces right for me?

If you’re an adult considering braces–or simply want a straighter smile–we recommend you book a free orthodontic consult at one of our 25 Tend dental studios (conveniently located in NYC, Boston, Atlanta, Washington DC, Nashville, and Connecticut). Our top - rated team of clinicians will assess your smile goals alongside your needs and help you find the best treatment option for you. Ready to get started?

Smile straightening for every lifestyle

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Dr. Chris Salierno

Dr. Chris Salierno is Tend’s Chief Dental Officer. A native New Yorker, Dr. Chris graduated from Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, where he also completed his residency. He started his own practice on Long Island and went on to become an educator, international lecturer, and the Chief Editor of Dental Economics.

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