Adult Braces, the Why, the How and the What


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Considering Adult Braces?

Did you know that a whopping 55% of Australian adults are self-conscious about our teeth?

And that given a chance to change something about their appearance:

  • 5% would change their ears
  • 12% would change their eyes
  • 16% would change their eyebrows
  • 22% would change their nose
  • And 46% would change their teeth!*

So, this being the case, the question is why aren’t more people treating themselves to a straighter, healthier grin?

Well, let’s face it, wearing dental braces as an adult isn’t as cool as it was when you were a kid.  We can think of a few ‘adult’ responsibilities where having a face full of metal braces may not be the (train) track we want to go down:).

  • Work – speaking to clients or giving a presentation
  • Socializing – try to go out to dinner without worrying about food getting caught in your braces
  • Romantic moments – smooching your loved one might not be as nice as it once was

So, to help you we have put together some reasons why you might need teeth straightening as an adult and why straight teeth are healthy teeth.

We will also discuss the 4 most popular treatments and best options for adult braces to straighten those pearly whites of yours, the pros, cons of each and as well as how much adult braces cost.

Reasons you might need dental braces as an adult

Our parents are mainly to blame when it comes to crooked teeth.  However, you may notice that as you age your teeth may start to change position.  There are a number of reasons that our teeth move as we get older.

Your teeth are actually very prone to movement and are mainly kept in place by your cheeks, lips and tongue and of course, your other teeth.  Therefore if we experience any of the below, this could lead to your teeth moving as you age.

  • Tooth loss
  • Grinding teeth
  • Tooth wear
  • Oral habits – such as thumb sucking as a kid or biting your lip
  • Gum disease

But I already had braces as a kid!

I hear you cry!  Relapse is one of the most common reasons for adult orthodontics.  These days after orthodontic treatment in kids most dentists will provide a fixed retainer on the back of their teeth to prevent relapse, but back in the day, this was not as common.  A removable retainer was provided and, most likely, not worn as often as it should have been.

The good news is that if you have already had orthodontic treatment then moving your teeth back into place as an adult is usually quite easy and quick.  

The video below shows the treatment plan of one of our actual patients who had braces as a kid and her teeth relapsed.  She was able to straighten her teeth with clear, removable aligners and treatment will be finished in just 3 months!

Who is adult orthodontic treatment suitable for? 

Adult orthodontics can fix a number of issues including:

  • Crowded teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Underbite or overbite
  • Deep bite
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Gaps in your teeth

If you are considering cosmetic dentistry such as porcelain veneers to get that perfect celebrity smile, adult orthodontic treatment is often used prior to the procedure as a more conservative approach.

Straight teeth are healthy teeth 

Many people are unaware that crooked teeth or a misaligned bite could be harmful to your health – and not just your oral health!  There are many health benefits that adult orthodontics can provide such as:

  • Psychological benefits – by boosting your self-confidence
  • Oral health benefits – It’s easier to keep your teeth and gums clean when your teeth are straight reducing the risk of decay and gum disease
  • Get a better sleep – A misaligned bite is often the cause of snoring
  • Reduce headaches – Grinding your teeth and a misaligned bite can cause headaches and jaw problems

So now we know what problems we can fix with adult braces and why we should – let’s go to the how.  Below we have listed the 4 most popular teeth straightening options for adults.

Different types of braces for adults

Clear aligners or clear braces 

Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have probably heard about Invisalign.  But what you may not know is that this is not the only invisible braces option, just the most well-known brand name.  

Clear braces, also sometimes referred to as clear aligners or clear trays are becoming more and more popular, and there are many options available today.  The other well-known brand in Australia is ClearCorrect.

The process for clear braces

Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth, and this information is put into special software that can digitally move your teeth into position.  You then approve the treatment along with your dentist, and this information is then sent to the company who will manufacture your aligners.

You then receive a number of sets of aligners that you wear day and night and change about every two weeks.  The length of time it takes and the number of sets of aligners will vary depending on how much your teeth need to move.

Pros of clear braces

Clear aligners are practically invisible and removable to fit into your lifestyle.  You can take them out whenever you like, for that special selfie or when you are out for dinner with friends.  

Below is a picture of our lovely patient out for dinner with her friends with her clear aligners in place – see if you can spot them!

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They are made out of a clear plastic mould that fits exactly over your teeth so they are also very comfortable and easy to get used to.

Because of the advanced technology, you also get to see what your teeth will look like before you even start your treatment.

Cons of clear braces

Just because you can take them out, you still have to wear your clear aligners for about 22 hours a day, so you need to be diligent about this.  For kids (or even some adults:) because they are removable there is the possibility of misplacing them. This is not such a big deal as they can be reordered, but this may result in your treatment time being extended and possibly an extra cost.

Cost of clear braces

From $4,000 to $8,000

clear braces

Porcelain veneers 

Porcelain veneers are a form of cosmetic dentistry where a thin layer of porcelain is placed over your natural tooth.  These are a good option for those who want to improve the look of their teeth, the shape, size or colour and who only have slightly crooked teeth.

Adult orthodontics is very commonly used in conjunction with porcelain veneers to give you that fantastic Hollywood smile.

The process for porcelain veneers

When preparing for porcelain veneers, a thin layer of enamel needs to be removed from the surface of your teeth.  A thin ‘veneer’ of porcelain is then placed over your natural tooth. Porcelain veneers can be done ‘chairside’ with a special CAD CAM machine that the dentist can perform in one appointment, or alternatively, made by a dental technician.  

If the veneers are made in the dental laboratory by a dental technician, this will usually take around two weeks in which time the dentist will provide you with temporary veneers.

Pros of porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers can correct quite a few issues, not just misaligned teeth.  They allow you to change the shape, colour and size of your teeth. If the dentist is using CAD-CAM technology, then you will also be able to see what your teeth will look like before the veneers are made.

Cons of porcelain veneers

If you need a lot of correction or are trying to correct a misaligned bite, then porcelain veneers are not recommended.  However, as mentioned they can be used in conjunction with adult orthodontics.

Cost of porcelain veneers

From $1,200 to $2,500 for one porcelain veneer

adult braces

Lingual Braces 

Lingual braces are merely metal braces that are placed on the back your teeth instead of the front.

The Process for lingual braces

Brackets are placed on the back of your teeth and tightened with a wire.  A visit to the orthodontist is normally required every couple of weeks to get the wire tightened.

Pros of lingual braces

Lingual braces are the only “true” invisible type of braces as they are on the back of your teeth so no-one will be able to see them.  In some extreme cases, clear braces or aligners can’t be used as too much movement is required.  In this case, lingual braces are a good option.

Cons of lingual braces

Because lingual braces are brackets and wire they may cut your tongue a bit, they also take a fair bit of getting used to.  They take longer to fit and are also generally more expensive.

Cost of lingual braces

From $8,000 to $10,000

adult braces

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are a ‘clear’ version of metal braces.  The brackets are made out of ceramic and are therefore white or clear, so they blend in with the teeth.

Pros of ceramic braces

Because they work just like regular braces they can also be used when more aggressive movement is needed.  They do not stand out as much as metal braces.

Cons of ceramic braces

You will still have brackets on the front of your teeth.  They can be hard for your lips and tongue to get used to, may cut up your lips and cheeks a little bit and are still slightly visible.  They are usually slightly more expensive than metal braces.

Cost of ceramic braces

From $4,000 to $8,000

adult braces

So, now hopefully you are armed with all the information you need and with all of these amazing options why wouldn’t you treat yourself to a happier, healthier you!

*Australian society of Orthodontics, 2015, >1000 18 – 55 yr olds Australian adults surveyed
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