Smile! No More Stigma in Adult Braces

Everyone wants a perfect set of pearly whites, but a winning smile can seem out of reach for adults who never managed to get their teeth straightened out as a child. Not many adults want to wear clunky metal braces, after all. But with orthodontic treatments such as Invisalign, straight, perfect teeth are attainable for adults — and all without ever being called “metal mouth.”

Adults wear braces, too

More than a third of American adults are unhappy with the way their teeth look, according to study commissioned by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and these ashamed adults even go so far as to untag photos on social media because they don’t like their smile — or, worse yet, they stop smiling all together. The effects of an imperfect smile are not only found in lowered self-esteem, as the study goes on to show that 78% of Americans perceive those with crooked teeth to be professionally unsuccessful. Teeth really do make an impression!

It’s not surprising, then, that yet another AAO survey showed a record number of adults are seeking orthodontic treatment. Instead of hiding behind closed-lip smiles and avoiding pictures, adults are heading to the orthodontist to finally set their teeth straight.

New and improved adult braces

Much of the stigma surrounding adult braces was their appearance. Metal braces — complete with the often-colorful elastics — were the standard years ago, and was a typical characteristic of young teenagers. Adults want to look like adults, of course, so metal braces were often not an option. However, other advancements have been made in orthodontics, resulting in less noticeable but just as effective braces. Ceramic braces are slightly less noticeable than metal braces, but require more care to keep them clear and are more expensive than traditional braces.

The most suitable braces for adults are often the invisible ones, such as lingual braces and the more well-known Invisalign. With lingual braces, the same metal brackets are used as in traditional braces, but they are placed on the inside of the teeth instead of the outside. While completely invisible from the outside, cleaning and adjustments are more difficult, and they may not be suitable for all dental cases.

Invisalign, also nearly invisible (hence the name), comprises a custom plastic mouth guard, also called aligners, worn over the teeth for 20 to 22 hours a day; they are removed when eating or brushing. Every two weeks, patients receive a new set of aligners. After the treatment, they receive a retainer to ensure their teeth remain straight.

It’s also a matter of time: successful orthodontic treatment takes some time and patience, and while the duration has shortened due to advancements in orthodontics, it still may be too long for someone to have visible braces. Invisalign treatments generally take about one year, while traditional braces may take up to three in severe cases.

DIY is fun, but not for teeth

With so many adults worrying about the straightness of their teeth, a new, worrying trend has appeared: DIY braces, in which people use household elastics, dental floss or even 3D printed retainers to gradually move teeth on their own. A 2017 survey showed that nearly 13% of AAO dentists saw patients who had tried DIY dental work — which often required restorative care.

Dentists everywhere, including Tru Family Dental, have warned against this dangerous undertaking, as it can severely and permanently damage your teeth. Even though adults may not want to get braces, there are options such as Invisalign that are far safer, more successful and carry much less of a stigma.

Posted In: Orthodontics & Aligners