If you’re an adult considering braces, give yourself a pat on the back! The benefits of braces aren’t only cosmetic — they also improve your oral health. Improved oral health means improved overall health, so you should be proud that you’re considering braces as an adult. Here’s a list of our advice and tips for adults with braces.
Adults seeking orthodontic have been on the rise since tracking began. In 2012–14, adults seeking orthodontic treatment rose 16 percent. Today, one in five orthodontic patients are adults. It’s more than a trend. The benefits of braces can be seen throughout an individual’s entire life, and people are noticing.
Anything that prevents you from reaching and cleaning the spaces in your mouth increases your risk for gum (or periodontal) disease. As many as half of American adults over 30 have gum disease. Braces can help prevent gum disease by straightening your teeth, which makes brushing, flossing, and dental cleaning much more effective.
More effective cleanings reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth. Less plaque in the mouth means less plaque in the body, which can have overall health effects like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of stroke. It’s important to note that gum disease should be treated before considering braces. Braces should only be put on healthy teeth and gums.
If you’re an adult considering braces to straighten your teeth, this list of commonly asked questions about braces with expert tips for adults with braces will help you better prepare.
Age limit for braces: Am I too old for braces?
There is no age limit for braces. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, you can benefit from braces! If you have problems with your gums, consult with your dentist before moving forward.
The pressure braces put on your gums might make your issues worse. “If you are physically moving the teeth when the gums aren’t healthy, you can really make things worse,” says periodontist John A. Martin, DDS. Keep in mind this varies from case to case, and your dentist will help you make the right decision.
Tips for adults with braces: Why might I need braces?
There are a few factors that affect whether teeth are straight. A jaw that doesn’t align properly can cause teeth and the mouth to close incorrectly. Genetics impact how your teeth come in, meaning that conditions like malocclusion (crowded, crooked, or protruding teeth) can be inherited. Additionally, habits and outside factors like injury can also affect if teeth are straight. For example, sucking your thumb can lead to malocclusion.
Braces correct the position of teeth, which makes brushing and flossing more effective. Braces correct the appearance of teeth but also improve chewing and speaking abilities when teeth create other problems.
Will braces be painful?
Having braces is like breaking in a new pair of shoes. After settling into an adjustment, braces are usually quite comfortable. “Orthodontic treatment often is more comfortable and takes less time than it did years ago,” writes the American Dental Association (ADA). It’s important to note that the braces of today are very different from those of the past. Besides added elements of customization, brackets are smaller and the application process is more refined, which makes getting braces an entirely different experience.
Braces are designed to gradually pull the teeth and jaw into new positions. When you get your braces on, you may experience soreness. The most soreness will come after the orthodontist tightens or adjusts the brackets. The body has an inflammatory response when this happens because of the mechanical pressure felt in the mouth. This is what makes your mouth hurt after visiting the orthodontist. Anti-inflammatory medicine can help reduce this, but always consult with your orthodontist before taking any medication.
How long will I have braces?
Treatment length varies from individual to individual, much like teeth! The issues you’re looking to correct will determine how long your braces are on. Overbites and underbites generally take longer to correct than straightening teeth. During your first visit, your orthodontist will be able to give you a more accurate time frame.
Braces are a great way to gain confidence and take steps toward better oral and overall health. If you think you might benefit from braces, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options!
For more information on orthodontia and your overall health, check out these blogs: