Braces For Adults: Am I Too Old?

Life Is Better With a Smile

Although it would be wonderful to have teeth that only became straighter and more beautiful over time, the reality is that a host of orthodontic issues can occur over the years. Making changes to the position of your teeth during childhood or adolescence is typical and can be very effective, but adult orthodontic treatment is also available for poorly aligned teeth.

Is There An Age Limit For Braces?

Absolutely not! Adults of any age can be great candidates for braces. It is true that early orthodontic intervention can work wonders for children with alignment problems. However, the undeniable fact is that our bodies can and do change over time, and those changes can definitely affect the position of your teeth and jaws.

Your Mouth Changes With Age

Unfortunately, even if your teeth looked great and aligned throughout your life, this can change with age. Many adults report feeling embarrassed by the way their teeth look, but embarrassment is only one part of the picture. The other is that the longer you live with misaligned teeth, the higher your risk of developing problems.

Crowded teeth are very common among adults and can cause a few issues. First, when teeth are so close together, they are constantly making contact with one another. This can cause protective enamel to wear faster, leaving teeth vulnerable to bacteria.

Proper cleaning also becomes a problem with crowded teeth. In not being able to reach certain areas, food cannot be removed, giving bacteria the perfect environment to grow and thrive. Over time, you can end up with cavities and even gum disease, which can cause more serious health problems to develop.

Why Are Adults Getting Braces?

We’ve just told you why you should straighten your teeth, but what reasons are other adults giving for getting adult braces?

They Want to Look Better

A large portion of adults chooses braces for cosmetic reasons. They don’t want to have to deal with the embarrassment of their teeth any longer; they want to smile again and regain confidence in their appearance.

Others choose braces because they want to look younger. How can braces possibly make you look younger? As we age, all muscles, including our facial muscles, lose their tightness. When this happens, the upper lip can droop, adding years to your appearance. Braces push your teeth forward, which tightens the skin and lifts the upper lip, helping you to achieve a more youthful look.

They Want Something Fixed

Another reason adults choose braces is that they’ve got a problem with their teeth, jaw, or previous orthodontic work that they want to fix. Maybe a filling or crown is causing discomfort. Or, perhaps the jaw has become misaligned and is wearing down the teeth. Other adults have already developed periodontal disease, due to misalignment, and want to restore their health.

Whatever the reasons for wanting braces, the bottom line is that thousands of adults are choosing them and have gotten great results.

Factors Impacting Adult Orthodontic Treatment

There are a few factors that make treating an adult’s orthodontic problems with braces very different from the treatment process for a child.

Teeth and Tissue

A child’s teeth and jaws are still developing, which means their teeth and tissues are softer and easier to move. This ultimately makes orthodontic problems easier to correct with braces. Adults have harder bones and their teeth are set in harder gum tissue.

Tooth Wear and Shape

Older teeth can be worn and misshapen and, when an adult has these in addition to misalignment, this can mean a different level and length of time required for treatment. Children’s teeth typically have not had enough time to wear down or become misshapen when they begin treatment with braces.

Treatment Goals Differ

In children who have an overbite, treatment with braces will be aimed at creating a perfect bite. Adults with an overbite may not be able to achieve that perfect bite due to the reasons above. Therefore, the goal of treatment will be to achieve a bite that allows the use of their teeth and jaws without discomfort or damage, as this is the best and often the only possible outcome.

Past Orthodontic Work

Tooth extraction and other previous dental work will impact the type and length of treatment an adult receives. Children will not usually have had much work done to their teeth when braces are installed, so treatment will tend to be less complex.

How Braces Work To Improve Your Smile

Whether it’s an adult or child being treated, the way all braces work, including clear braces for adults, is the same. The appliances place gradual and gentle pressure on the teeth, which causes them to move.

Traditional Braces

With traditional metal braces, wires are attached to brackets that are cemented to each tooth. You need to visit your orthodontist at regular intervals to have these wires tightened so that your teeth can continue to be moved into their new positions.

Clear Aligners

With clear aligners like Invisalign, a series of molds is made of your teeth, from the way they are now to the way they will be as they move. You wear each set of aligners for a couple of weeks before changing to the next set, which allows the continued movement of your teeth.

Things To Consider Before Getting Braces

If you’ve been thinking about getting braces, you’ll want to consider the following:

The Time Involved

Your treatment may take longer than you expected, especially if you already have gum disease, which will need to be treated and resolved before getting braces.  As well, since adult teeth typically move more slowly than those of children, you may have to wait longer for a healthy smile.

Clear braces need to be worn for a certain amount of time per day, so you’ll have to keep track of how long they’ve been out of your mouth during mealtimes so you don’t delay your treatment.

Comfort Level

Getting braces as an adult may mean it takes longer to get used to them. Metal braces will feel uncomfortable at first and may take some time to get used to. The same is true for clear braces, which you may be tempted to remove.

Changes to Food and Drink

Having braces means you will have to avoid certain foods and drinks. With metal braces, you’ll have to stop eating any foods that are hard or chewy or which can become trapped under brackets and cause them to come loose. These foods include hard candy, popcorn, gum, and taffy. Clear braces must be removed every time you eat and should never be worn when drinking hot liquids, which will cause them to warp.


You’ll need to learn how to maintain your braces; this will mean changing your cleaning routine. Metal braces will require careful flossing and more involved cleaning to ensure you remove debris from under brackets and between teeth without loosening wires.

Because clear braces fit over your teeth, you’ll have to ensure you brush your teeth after every drink and meal to avoid bacteria buildup. Your aligners will also have to be rinsed each time and brushed each morning and night along with your teeth.


Are You Ready For A Better Smile?

You don’t have to wait any longer to regain your confidence, improve your health, and restore your smile. You can get braces as an adult. The skilled team at Labbe Family Orthodontics possesses 40 years of experience with orthodontics for adults.

We use state-of-the-art equipment at each of our four locations for the latest treatments no matter which office you visit. We always treat you like family. Life is better with a smile; schedule your braces consultation by calling us today: 410-267-7300.