Correcting a smile with braces isn’t just for kids. New techniques have more adults than ever visiting the orthodontist.
Javier Sanchez Mingorance /123RF Photo
Gone are the days when getting braces was exclusively reserved for adolescents. A new study by the American Association of Orthodontists reveals that more adults than ever are receiving orthodontic treatment to achieve greater confidence in their personal and professional lives.
“Having a healthy, beautiful smile has a big impact on your overall quality of life,” said Los Angeles orthodontist Dr. Mahtab Partovi who says at least 75 percent of her patients are adults getting braces in some form. “Beauty follows function,” Partovi commonly says to her patients. “The physiological positioning of your teeth is fundamental, not only for your overall dental health, but also for your heart health. Teeth need to be in the correct positioning and in alignment with your jaw bone so you can brush your teeth properly and prevent gum disease, which has been associated with heart disease.”
But who wants a mouth full of metal, especially if you’re in dating mode or frequently meeting with clients or co-workers? Although there used to be a time when braces meant your teeth were covered in silver clamps and wires, today people have more “grown up” options. Old-fashioned braces have evolved to make the process of orthodontic treatment hardly noticeable.
Traditional Metal Braces
The least expensive type of braces and the most familiar are traditional metal braces. This involves attaching clearly visible metal brackets on each tooth, held together by a thin wire that gets tightened with each visit to the orthodontist along with tiny rubber bands if your bite also needs an adjustment. With metal braces, you have to watch what you eat, avoid foods that can dislodge a bracket or break a wire, and brush your teeth to remove food particles that can get stuck in the wires and metal. The price range is $3,000 to $7,000, but with a payment plan, can run as low as $100 per month.
“Clear” Ceramic Braces
Another option for braces is ceramic braces, formerly referred to as “clear” braces. They look and feel just like regular braces, but instead of metal brackets, ceramic brackets are used to blend in with the color of your teeth and are held together by clear (translucent) or tooth-colored wires to reduce visibility. One Los Angeles woman said she scored a date while standing in line at Starbucks when a gentleman walked up and asked if she was wearing braces because he couldn’t quite tell from a distance. Ceramic braces cost a little bit more than traditional since they take a little longer to install. They also stain, break or chip quite easily if you’re not careful with the foods you eat. The price range is $4,000 to $8,000 and typically cost more than traditional braces.
Less commonly used, lingual braces involve attaching metal or ceramic brackets behind the tooth so they face the tongue where they cannot be seen. It’s a complicated procedure that requires a highly-skilled orthodontist and may not work on small teeth. The downside of this option is that it can affect the quality of your speech. The price range for lingual braces is higher than other types of braces, ranging from $8,000 to $10,000.
The most popular option and the most costly are invisible braces, such as Invisalign. These are virtually invisible and involve the use of removable, custom-fit and clear “aligners” that gradually shift the position of your teeth. You’ll be supplied with a series of aligners that you’ll have to switch out every two weeks as part of the straightening process. You’ll also be required to wear them all day, every day, except when you’re eating or brushing your teeth. You must brush your teeth after every meal before putting them back on. Failure to follow your doctor’s instructions could prolong the process.
Dr. Partovi says that although most of her patients want the invisible option, they’re not the best choice for everyone since some cases are too severe for this remedy. After explaining the pros and cons—among which include costs and upkeep—nearly 70 percent of her patients end up getting Damon braces, a brand of braces (available in metal or ceramic) that combines the best of traditional braces and invisible aligners to move teeth 30 percent faster. Both options cost about the same, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the length of treatment (which varies person to person and can range from 10 months to four years), and the patient’s commitment to the lifestyle modifications that come with having braces.
Whichever type of braces you choose, the biggest challenge is the major lifestyle modifications required. You can’t eat hard foods or anything that will stick to your teeth, flossing is a bit of a process and, as one public relations professional noted, you have to carry a toothbrush with you everywhere you go—even if it means brushing your teeth in a public restroom in the middle of date or business meeting.
Anne Larson of Sherman Oaks says she was initially mortified when she found out she had to get braces. Her two front teeth were crooked which made her feel self-conscious when taking pictures. Since she was already self-conscious about her teeth, getting clear braces as an adult seemed like a small price to pay for a smile that would last a lifetime. She says the process was uncomfortable, but worth the confident smile she has today.
Copyright © Niki Payne/2016 Singular Communications, LLC.
SingularCity member Niki Payne is a freelance lifestyle journalist and Certified Dream Coach® at www.nikipayne.com. Through her writing, she aims to empower singles and enhance their overall quality of life one dream at a time.