People often view braces as something they should be thinking about for their children. While the majority of our patients are tweens and teens, we receive an increasing number of inquiries about braces for adults. In fact, one-in-three orthodontic patients is over the age of 18, according to the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO). Social media use, a desire for a more professional appearance, dental problems associated with aging, and greater access to information on orthodontics all contribute to the rise in adult orthodontic patients.
What’s the Best Age for Braces?
Some adults may wonder if an adult of any age can get braces. They believe that braces are out of reach or assume that they’ve “missed their window.” Youth does present some advantages.
While the AAO recommends that every child have an orthodontic evaluation between the ages of 7-8 when the first permanent molars (lateral incisors) usually erupt. Childhood, when the mouth is still growing, presents an optimal time to move teeth, however it’s not the only time. Braces for adults can still yield an incredible result under the guidance of a trained orthodontist even later in life. In fact, adulthood presents some unique reasons to consider orthodontic treatment.
4 Reasons Adults Get Braces
So what are the reasons adults get braces? There are several common motivators that emerge as patients age.
1. Cosmetic Concerns
Cosmetic concerns are common reasons for adults to get braces. Interestingly, we have noticed a spike in adult orthodontics coinciding with the rampant use of camera phones and social media. Now that everyone carries a camera in their pocket or purse, we are becoming more conscious of having a picture-perfect smile. “Patients are much more aware of what their teeth look like in photographs,” Dr. Piper said. As our culture continues to generate “selfies” and profile pictures, we expect to see more adults in our chairs.
Orthodontic procedures that may have once seemed unattainable to adults are now within reach. With increasing access to information via the internet, adults can educate themselves and even watch videos of other adults getting braces. If you’re considering a “quick-fix” orthodontic device you’ve seen advertised online, remember that you need a specialist to examine and diagnose your bite before investing time and money in a solution that may not give you the desired results. It is also critical to be under the doctor’s care to ensure that the braces are doing their job.
Also, when parents bring in their children for treatment they often decide to pursue treatment for themselves recognizing they, too, are the right age to get braces.
3. Dental Problems Associated with Aging
Bite issues, or malocclusions, not addressed in childhood often grow worse over time and can become uncomfortable or painful to deal with. Lifelong crooked teeth become more crowded and difficult to brush and floss properly which makes gums vulnerable to periodontal disease or cavities between the teeth. Sometimes a patient’s bite is so poor that gum tissue becomes compromised. Spaces also expand with age.
4. Success and Perceived Intelligence
For better or worse, people with a winning smile continue to maintain a competitive edge. Men and women both want to appear professional, but problems with their teeth can hinder their confidence. Some studies suggest that people perceive a link between straight teeth and intelligence; people with bad teeth are sometimes perceived as less intelligent or successful which also may contribute to some forms of discrimination.
What to Expect During Adult Orthodontic Treatment
There are multiple options for achieving straight teeth, including braces for adults as well as aligners, for patients with minor malocclusion.
A trained orthodontist can help you determine the right type to get you the results you’re dreaming of and suggest a treatment plan. Treatment time varies depending on whether you have bite, crowding and/or spacing problems, however the average time for wearing braces is typically 24-30 months. We will assist you by showing you how to take care of your braces. Our Frequently Asked Questions page goes into much greater detail about the process and orthodontic terminology.
Your Memphis-Area Orthodontist for Braces for Adults
Adults of any age should not be intimidated to make an appointment for an orthodontic consultation, especially if you are leaning toward aligners. We urge you to see an orthodontist to examine and diagnose your situation before investing time and money in an online solution that may or may not be successful. Plus, it is critical to be under the doctor’s care to ensure that the braces are doing their job.
To make an appointment for a free consultation so we can discuss how to improve both your smile and oral health, call our office at 901.756.4316.