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Updated on September 29, 2022

Adult Braces: Orthodontic Treatment for Adults

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Should Adults Get Braces?

Braces are often associated with children and teenagers, but you wouldn’t be alone in having braces put on as an adult. There are many reasons someone might want to get braces when they’re older.

Some adults had braces as a child, but their teeth gradually shifted over time and became crooked or misaligned again, possibly due to not properly wearing a retainer. This appliance keeps your teeth in alignment after treatment. 

This leads many adults to invest in another round of orthodontic treatment if they have a bad bite and/or crooked teeth that have worsened with age. 

Other adults with braces may be undergoing treatment for the first time. They may have misaligned teeth that were never addressed during childhood or shifted out of alignment later in life.

One in five orthodontic patients is an adult. Adults seek treatment mainly to improve their smile and boost their confidence. Proper teeth alignment also boosts oral and overall health by making oral hygiene easier.

American Association of Orthodontists​​

Does Orthodontic Treatment Make Sense for Adults?

Adults of any age can get braces or aligners. Some adults also seek treatment to realign their teeth after dental crowns, implants, or veneers are placed.

If you have any of the following misalignment issues, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment as an adult:

Is There an Ideal Age for Braces? 

The most common age group receiving orthodontic treatment is between 8 and 20. This is when many permanent teeth erupted, but the jaw is still growing.

Any dental crowding and bite or alignment issues may also be first evident during the teenage years, making it an ideal time to get braces. Many teens can get their braces on and off before high school begins. 

The main difference between adult and childhood orthodontics is that fewer treatment options are available for adults.

Getting braces as a child or teenager allows for the use of other orthodontic devices, if necessary. These devices may include headgear, space maintainers, or palatal expanders.

Adults aren’t ideal candidates for these orthodontic appliances because their jaws are fully developed, whereas a child's jaw is still growing. This makes it easier for orthodontic treatment to shift children’s teeth into place.   

Types of Braces — 4 Common Treatment Options for Adults

Depending on your needs and desires, your orthodontist may recommend any of the following types of braces:

1. Traditional Braces

Traditional metal braces are an affordable and effective treatment option. Metal braces fix severe teeth crowding, most bite issues, and spaced teeth, among other conditions.

The brackets on metal braces are gold or silver, with o-shaped rubber bands that tie around each one. Traditional braces are also durable, strong, and can withstand most treatment forces.

metal bracesNewMouth

Traditional metal braces are common among children and teens. Adults can also get them if they do not mind having visible brackets on their teeth for a long time.

2. Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces, often called "clear braces," are similar to traditional metal braces because they have the same functionality. They are also the same size and shape as metal braces. 

However, ceramic braces consist of archwires and tooth-colored brackets rather than silver or gold brackets. The o-shaped rubber bands around each bracket are also clear or white. This allows them to blend in better with your natural teeth. 

clear bracesNewMouth

While clear braces are still visible, many adults and teenagers prefer them over metal braces because they are more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are also metal braces. However, instead of attaching to the front of your teeth, they are placed on the back of your teeth. They are the least visible form of metal braces but can be more uncomfortable since they are closer to your tongue. 

lingual braces NewMouth

4. Clear Aligners

Clear aligners are a relatively new and popular form of orthodontic treatment.

Invisalign is the most widely-known and reputable brand. These aligners are a great option for younger and older adults because they are removable and nearly invisible. You will not have metal brackets and wires glued to your teeth.

clear aligners NewMouth

Although clear aligners have many benefits, the main disadvantage is that they require upkeep.

You must remember to wear them for at least 22 hours per day. You'll also receive a new set of aligners every one to two weeks. 

It’s also important to know that clear aligners may not be ideal for more severe issues with teeth alignment.

Clear Aligners vs. Metal Braces

People with clear aligners and metal braces must visit their dentist or orthodontist regularly for check-ups and adjustments. 

Aligners are also virtually invisible, removable, and easier to clean than braces. Traditional, lingual, and ceramic braces are difficult to clean, eat with, and are not as comfortable (for some people).

Metal braces are less aesthetically pleasing than aligners because they are not removable or "invisible." 

However, metal braces may be better suited for especially complex alignment problems. Clear aligners may not provide optimal results in such cases.

Clear aligner treatment takes between 12 and 18 months on average. Braces must be worn for 18 months to two years. 

Advantages of Adult Braces 

There are many benefits of adult braces. The primary advantages include:

  • They enhance the appearance of teeth, improve facial structure, and boost self-confidence.
  • They can improve your dental health as well as your overall health.. More specifically, straight teeth are easier to brush and floss, which helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, the health of your teeth and gums can affect the rest of your body.

Orthodontic Treatment and Gum Disease

There are two types of gum disease, gingivitis (mild) and periodontitis (severe). You must visit a periodontist for treatment if you have been diagnosed with one of these diseases. 

You should not seek orthodontic treatment if you have untreated gum disease. This is because any kind of orthodontic treatment can worsen gum disease. Without addressing existing damage due to gum disease, braces and aligners may make things worse. To get the results you want from orthodontic treatment, seek treatment for gum disease first.

Costs of Braces for Adults

Braces cost between $2,500 and $8,000, whereas clear aligners cost between $3,500 and $8,000.

The cost typically depends on the length of treatment, the type of braces, and where you live. 

Are Braces Covered By Insurance For Adults?

In many cases, insurance does not cover orthodontic treatment for adults, but payment plans may be available through your orthodontist. 

However, some plans provide adult orthodontic benefits, which can be applied to any orthodontic treatments above.

Check with your insurance carrier to find out which benefits your current plan provides.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of braces is best for adults?

Ceramic braces are the most popular type of braces among adults. Ceramic braces consist of archwires and tooth-colored brackets rather than silver or gold brackets.

The o-shaped rubber bands around each bracket are also clear or white. This allows them to blend in better with your natural teeth. 

Are braces good for adults?

Adults benefit from braces just as much as children and teenagers do. Braces are a great option to improve your smile and boost your self-esteem.

Clear aligners are also beneficial for straightening teeth. Aligners are nearly invisible and removable, which is convenient for many adults. Veneers are another great option if you only have a few crooked teeth.

Do braces take longer for adults?

Unlike a child’s jaw, an adult's jaw is fully developed and no longer growing. This can lead to longer treatment times with braces.

Children and teens typically wear braces for 16 to 24 months. Adult patients wear braces for an average of 18 months to three years.

How painful are braces for adults?

The discomfort associated with braces is the same for children, teens, and adults.
During the first few days after getting braces, you may experience soreness and discomfort while chewing. This should pass after a couple of days.

Can you get braces for free?

If you qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to get free braces as an adult if this is deemed medically necessary.

Can you be too old to get braces?

There is no age limit for braces. You can straighten your teeth any time as long as you have good oral health. 

6 Sources Cited
Last updated on September 29, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Braces.” American Dental Association.
  2. Freedman, George A. Contemporary Esthetic Dentistry. Elsevier, 2012.
  3. Nguyen, Mark K. The Art of Smile Design. Archway Publishing, 2018.
  4. Proffit, William R., et al. Contemporary Orthodontics. Elsevier/Mosby, 2019.
  5. Willmot, Derrick. “Orthodontic Treatment and the Compromised Periodontal Patient.” European Journal of Dentistry, 2008.
  6. Orthodontic Treatment Options.” American Association of Orthodontists.
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