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Am I Too Old for Braces?

Let’s face it; everyone wants that beautiful smile that you can confidently show off in public. However, many people think their journey to getting that perfect smile is out of reach because they think they are too old for braces. But, that’s not the case since orthodontic treatment isn’t just for kids.  In fact, more than one million adults in the US wear braces, and the number continues to grow each year.

If you have some form of malocclusions, adult orthodontic treatment is still a viable option regardless of your age. As an adult, you can have your teeth straightened and aligned using braces to improve your smile and boost confidence. Here’s everything you need to know about correcting orthodontic problems with braces as an adult:

An adult female wearing metal braces and laughing with her young son on piggyback

Can adults get braces?

Braces are usually relatively fast and effective at correcting teeth alignment issues in childhood due to the softer bones. However, braces are suitable for any age range. So, as an adult with alignment problems, you can also be a potential candidate for braces. But to get braces as an adult, most orthodontists recommend you to have healthy teeth and jaw bones.  Wearing braces with an unhealthy jaw bone or gum inflammation can easily lead to gum disease, severe jaw disorders, or tooth decay.

How does the adult braces process work?

Braces work by exerting pressure on your teeth, which helps move the teeth into their correct position.  The best thing is that braces can straighten teeth even after jawbones have stopped growing since teeth still continue to move even as we age. However, braces usually take longer to straighten teeth for adults since their bones are fully developed and more solid.

What are my braces options as an adult? (types of braces)

For most adults, the thought of spending years on end with a mouthful of metal can easily discourage them from receiving the treatment. However, advances in orthodontics plus modern technology have led to more effective and efficient ways to straighten and align teeth using braces. 

Today’s braces are almost invisible, lighter, and gradually adjust your teeth into their rightful position faster and with less discomfort. Some common types of braces available for adults with dental problems include;

  • Lingual braces—These types of braces work just like traditional metal braces but are usually cemented on the back of your teeth. This makes them nearly invisible when you’re wearing them.
  • Clear Aligners—With clear aligners, like Invisalign, you wear each set of braces for several weeks before swapping with a new set, allowing your teeth to move according to the set plan.
  • Traditional metal braces- These braces are usually the most affordable. They are also effective at treating various orthodontic issues. The braces are typically cemented to the front of your teeth and attached using wires.
  • Ceramic braces – These are made of a translucent material and are usually worn on the front of the teeth.

While there are many types of braces to choose from, not all may be great for your orthodontic problem, so it’s always best to discuss your options with your orthodontist. This will help ensure you wear the right braces for your specific case and needs.

An older woman insereting an invisalign clear aligner to show that you are not too old for braces
A happy elderly woman puts on transparent removable braces. Cosmetic dentistry for all ages

Why Get Braces as an Adult?

While children and teens are often considered the best candidates for braces, there are numerous reasons you might also want to receive orthodontic treatment as an adult.  Some of the top reasons you may consider getting braces as an adult include;

  • Improved Appearance and Self-Confidence

Most adults don’t like how their teeth look and often prefer wearing braces to make their teeth straight and properly aligned. By realigning your teeth, you improve the look of your smile and, in turn, make you appear more attractive. Braces also help give you a more youthful appearance by tightening your skin and lifting your upper lip. This makes you feel more confident with your appearance, boosting your self-esteem.

  • Improved Oral Hygiene and Overall Health

Having crooked teeth or overcrowded teeth can not only make your smile unattractive but also increase your risk of developing periodontal problems such as gingivitis and gum disease. That’s mainly because crooked and overlapping teeth make it difficult to brush and floss your teeth properly, encouraging plaque buildup and tooth decay. Wearing braces as an adult treats common orthodontic problems and helps straighten and realign your teeth, making it easier for you to observe good oral hygiene and significantly reduce health risks.

  • Resolve Jaw Issues

Adults suffering from jaw disorders like temporomandibular joint (TMJ), often experience pain and dysfunction with their jaw muscles and joints. Misaligned jaws also contribute to faster tooth wear, headaches, chewing difficulties, and speech impediments. This is probably one of the most compelling reasons why many adults get braces. Braces help better align the jaw, relieve muscle pain and headaches, improve speech, and make speaking more comfortable. 

Factors that can affect braces in adults

Several factors can affect the effectiveness of braces in treating orthodontic problems for adults. These factors include;

  • Fully Developed Teeth and Tissue

Adults usually have more rigid mouth bones and gum tissues that support the teeth in position. You may also experience gradual bone loss as you age, which could affect the effectiveness of braces in treating your orthodontic problems. This could also increase the length of time you’ll need to wear braces or even require surgery before you use braces. However, since the jaws and teeth of children are still developing, the softer tissues and teeth make it easier to correct orthodontic issues using braces.

  • Tooth Wear and Deformities

An adult’s teeth are more likely to be worn and deformed due to biting and chewing over the years. Combined with misalignment, the length of time required to correct your orthodontic issues using braces significantly increases. On the other hand, children’s teeth usually haven’t undergone extensive wear or become deformed, making orthodontic treatment using braces faster and more effective.

  • Treatment Results Differ

Also, you may not get accurate results when fixing orthodontic issues with braces due to extensive tooth wear, bone loss, teeth distortion, and more. For instance, if you have an overbite, you may not achieve a perfect bite. Instead, you’ll get a bite that makes chewing and moving your jaws painless and more comfortable for you.

  • Tooth Extraction Issues and Previous Orthodontic Work

Most adults have had several of their teeth removed in the past, which could present a major issue for your orthodontist. Also, if you’ve had other dental procedures previously, it could affect the type of treatment method used by your orthodontist and the length of your treatment period.

Conclusion: You are not too old for braces!

Braces are not meant only for teens and children. You still can get that perfect smile you’ve always wanted with braces at any age. Don’t allow the fear of your age to keep you from correcting your bite and teeth.

Dr. Gibbs and Dr. Kaplan provide quality orthodontics from their orthodontic office at 40 East 84th Street – New York, NY 10028 and serve people of all ages in Upper East Side Manhattan. If you’d like to discuss the orthodontic treatment options available at Gibbs Orthodontic Associates, please call (212) 535-4111 or use our appointment request form to schedule an appointment with our practice.


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