Braces for Adults: How Do You Know if You Need Them?

Adult braces can improve a variety of dental problems. Discover everything you need to know about them with this guide from Flossy.

September 29, 2022
Braces for Adults: How Do You Know if You Need Them?

Braces are commonly used to straighten teeth. Of course, the effects of this go beyond appearance — braces can improve your dental health, your speech, and — most importantly — your confidence.

If you’re considering adult braces, then this guide from Flossy will provide you with everything you need to know. Read on to discover how to tell if you need adult braces, what the benefits of adult braces are, and the different options for braces available to you today. 

How Do You Know if You Need Adult Braces? 

  • Your teeth are crowded
  • Your teeth are not aligned properly
  • You have a speech impediment

Aside from consulting with your dentist, how do you know if you need adult braces? Since braces are used to straighten teeth, you might need them if you have any condition that interferes with the structure of your teeth.

If you have any of the following conditions, then you might need braces:

Your Teeth Are Crowded

Dental crowding happens when there isn’t enough space in your jaw to fit all your teeth normally — which results when emerging teeth are larger than the available space. Crowding can also happen due to your wisdom teeth erupting and your jaw being too small to accommodate them.

As a result of dental crowding, your teeth may either be twisted or displaced. You may experience symptoms such as tooth discomfort, jaw pain, and difficulty biting, chewing, and cleaning your teeth properly. The latter puts you at significant risk of tooth decay. 

Your Teeth Are Not Aligned Properly (Malocclusion)

Malocclusion refers to any situation in which your teeth are not aligned properly. This can occur in the upper or lower teeth and affect your overall bite. As a result of misalignment, you can experience an overbite, underbite, or crossbite.

Not only is malocclusion incredibly uncomfortable, but it can cause an abnormal distribution of your biting force. As a result, you’re more likely to crack or chip your teeth, which puts you at increased risk of tooth decay. 

You Have a Speech Impediment 

It’s possible to have a speech impediment as a result of dental problems, such as an overbite, crowding, or gaps between the teeth. Fixing these dental problems can lead to an improvement in your speech. 

What Are the Benefits of Adult Braces? 

  1. Its easier to brush and floss
  2. Your food digests faster
  3. Your speech may be smoother

Since braces help to straighten teeth, it’s clear what their benefit is: A more beautiful smile. However, there are other benefits of adult braces you might not consider — ones that are beyond skin-deep. Here are three surprising ways braces can improve your dental health: 

1. It’s Easier to Brush and Floss

If your teeth are misaligned, then certain spaces may be hard to clean. These hard-to-reach spaces can be breeding grounds for bacteria, which can significantly raise your risk of tooth decay — in addition to various other dental problems. 

However, once your teeth are straightened out, you’ll notice that it’s a lot easier to brush and floss them. 

2. Your Food Digests Faster

Misaligned teeth can impact the way you chew food. If chewing is painful or uncomfortable in any other way, then you’ll be less likely to thoroughly chew your food. This prevents digestive enzymes from fully mixing with your food, which can result in gas, bloating, and other digestive issues.

By correcting the alignment of your teeth, braces can help to improve your chewing. As a result, you’ll notice an improvement in any digestive troubles you may have been experiencing. 

3. Your Speech May Be Smoother

If your teeth are not properly aligned, then it can impact how you speak. For instance, you can make slight whistling sounds when speaking — without even realizing it. 

However, straightening your teeth can result in significantly improved speech, which can even improve how others perceive you

What Are the Downsides of Adult Braces?

  1. Braces take longer to straighten your teeth
  2. Discomfort
  3. Lip and tongue irritation
  4. Increased risk of tooth decay

As with all good things, there are some downsides to adult braces.

Braces Take Longer to Straighten Your Teeth

One downside is how long it takes to straighten teeth with adult braces. In childhood, teeth are still developing and as such, are more pliable. However, adult bones are already developed. As a result, the average treatment for adults with braces is about 20 months.

Discomfort

In addition, there is increased discomfort associated with wearing braces. Since braces work by manually shifting your teeth into place, you can experience a mild degree of pain in the teeth. Sometimes, this can manifest in a headache. However, any discomfort is temporary and should subside when you adjust to your new braces.

Lip and Tongue Irritation

In addition, you can experience lip and tongue irritation. Since you won’t be used to the wires and brackets that make up adult braces, it’s possible to make unintended contact with them, which can lead to irritation. Orthodontic wax makes for a good solution to this problem by creating a “barrier” on your soft tissue.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

Something else to consider is that adult braces can increase your risk of tooth decay — but only if you don’t follow the proper oral hygiene routine. This can happen because it feels uncomfortable or difficult to brush and floss teeth with braces. Of course, this can be avoided by paying extra attention to your oral hygiene. 

What Are the Different Types of Braces? 

  1. Metal braces
  2. Ceramic braces
  3. Self-ligating braces
  4. Lingual braces
  5. Clear aligners

If you’re sold on the benefits of braces, then you might be wondering what your options are. Fortunately, there are many types of braces that you can choose from — each with its pros and cons.

Here are the five main types of braces to consider: 

1. Metal Braces

Metal braces are the most traditional option, which have been around for well over 100 years. Although metal braces of the past were incredibly bulky, today’s options are smaller, more comfortable, and require little time to install.

To install metal braces, your dentist will place brackets — small structures that hold the wires in place — onto your teeth. To attach the brackets, your dentist will apply a small amount of glue on each tooth and shine a blue light on it to set it. They can then place a bracket on each tooth.

Following this, your dentist will connect the brackets with a wire, which will be attached to the tooth with an elastic tie. Your dentist will ask you to come in for an appointment every 4-8 weeks, which will allow them to make adjustments to the wire as your teeth shift.

Aside from regular dental appointments, you won’t need to worry about anything else. Once the metal braces are on your teeth, they’re on. Your only remaining job is to keep up a consistent oral hygiene routine. 

2. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces, but use a bracket made from a tooth-colored material. They are attached with a tooth-colored wire.

This makes them a more discreet option for those who do not want to make it obvious that they are wearing braces — which often occurs in adults.

However, one downside to ceramic braces is that they use brackets that are larger than those used in metal braces. Because they are light in color, they are more likely to stain. Last, they tend to be more expensive than metal braces.

Nonetheless, their subtle appearance makes them a worthwhile investment for many adults who want straight teeth without making it obvious that they are wearing braces. 

3. Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are similar to metal braces, with one difference: they use clips to hold the wire in place — instead of elastic rubber ties. This makes them easier to adjust, which can result in shorter appointment times.

Self-ligating braces can be a great option for you if you are sensitive to discomfort or don’t have the patience for sitting in your dentist’s chair for too long. However, aside from this benefit, there are no differences in treatment time between metal braces and self-ligating braces.

In addition, self-ligating braces can cost more than the traditional option. As such, they may not make them a worthwhile investment for some people. 

4. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are placed behind the teeth. As such, they are completely invisible, which makes them the perfect option for those who don’t love the appearance of braces.

In addition, lingual braces are fully customizable to each individual patient. This makes them a good option for those dealing with complex dental issues.

However, these braces are the least common option and require an extensive set of skills to install. As such, it might be a bit harder to find a doctor who can install lingual braces. Not surprisingly, this makes lingual braces the most expensive option on the market.

In addition, because of their placement, it’s possible for some patients to experience some changes to their speech. This is because your tongue touches the backs of your teeth to produce certain sounds. 

If you have brackets placed on the backs of your teeth, you could experience some speech defects, such as a mild lisp. However, this should subside after about one month. 

5. Clear Aligners

Clear aligners — also known as invisible braces — slowly shift the position of your teeth. While this is similar to what braces do, clear aligners are different in that they are clear “trays” that fit completely around your teeth. Compared to metal and ceramic braces, they are barely noticeable.

How long you wear clear aligners depends on your goals. In most cases, aligners would need to be worn for at least 20 hours per day (but preferably longer). They can only be removed for eating and brushing and flossing your teeth. There are also night-only options for aligners; however, these take longer to produce the desired effects.

Besides being transparent and removable, clear aligners can seriously cut down on your visits to the dentist. This is because they do not need to be adjusted once they are made for your teeth. However, your dentist might still wish to see you to observe your progress.

Despite all the benefits of clear aligners, they are not for everyone. If you have significant dental problems, then clear aligners may not be able to address them — instead, traditional braces may be a better choice. However, if you have mild to moderate dental problems, then clear aligners can be the perfect choice for you. 

What To Do Next

If you’re an adult, braces can help you correct misaligned teeth, improve your speech, and increase your self-confidence. To discuss your options for braces, schedule a consultation with one of Flossy’s dentists today.

For other ways to improve your smile, Flossy offers substantial discounts on many cosmetic procedures, such as teeth whitening — for your most beautiful smile yet.

Sources: 

Linguistic Bases of Social Perception | SagePub

Orthodontic treatment time: can it be shortened? | PMC

Duration of treatment and occlusal outcome using Damon3 self-ligated and conventional orthodontic bracket systems in extraction patients: a prospective randomized clinical trial | NCBI

Comparison of speech performance in labial and lingual orthodontic patients: A prospective study | PMC