Orthodontic braces, whether for functional or aesthetic purposes, are no longer the territory of the early teens- adult braces are a big and ever-increasing industry. Now that adults can expect to keep most of their teeth for most of their lives, having a nice smile is becoming more and more important, hence the importance of orthodontics in adult life. But as all things in life, orthodontics is a little bit different in adulthood as it is in the early teen years. The body is different, bones are harder, soft tissues are different, and thus the process is tailored to meet the requirements of an adult. Read on to learn more about getting braces as an adult!
How to get braces
Many adults would like braces but are unsure as to how to go about getting them- which doctors do it, how can you tell if they are good, what sort of prices are acceptable, and which ones are absolutely not, and a whole host of other unanswered questions leave many patients intimidated. We hope to provide some answers.
First off, not all dentists provide braces. Orthodontists are specially-trained dentists who deal with only (or mostly) braces- some only deal with traditional scenarios, in which the person wearing them is young, but most orthodontists will see adults as well as pretty much anybody else. So just find a trustworthy or notable orthodontist in your area and ask at reception or over the phone if they would handle your case - chances are, the answer will be a resounding “yes”.
A consultation session is your first meeting with the dentist. The dentist looks in your mouth and tells you if s/he can handle the case at all, and if it can be done roughly how much it will cost. This consultation is not mandatory, but is a good idea as it allows you to get a feel for your orthodontist, and allows you to ask any and all questions you may have. This is a rough estimate; to get a medically valid treatment plan you will have to invest a little bit more money and receive an orthodontic consultation session.
This is a consultation in which an x-ray is taken to see what is beneath your gum line, something that is extremely important in orthodontics as most of the treatment involves moving teeth around, and most of every tooth is invisibly hidden beneath the gums. After consulting the x-ray, your dentist will provide a treatment plan outlining the exact cost of the treatment, step by step, as well as a study model. The study model is a replica of your teeth made from a special clay, and this way the orthodontist can engineer and plan a device around this model to use on your teeth. The orthodontic consultation takes two visits, and costs 117 pounds sterling.
If you decide to get braces, chances are you will have two options- removable, and fixed. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you should always consult with your orthodontist about these, as some treatments cannot be done with removable braces, and some can.
Fixed braces are the kind of orthodontic device that everyone envisions; a brace attached to your teeth. Luckily, it does not have to be made out of metal; it can be made out of see through porcelain, tooth coloured composite, or even sapphire crystals. These are only visible from up close, and are virtually invisible otherwise.
Advantages: Shorter treatment times, (as the brace is constantly pushing on the teeth) and a better price.
Removable braces come in many shapes and forms. Some are shaped like a bent piece of wire and go over the teeth (functional appliances), some look like tooth guards made of see-through plastic, and some can hardly even be seen at all. Removable braces can be taken out for a few hours each day, but usually need to stay in for at least 20 hours daily, so they are worn constantly, and are removed for eating, cleaning teeth (they do need to be cleaned separately), and for short spells when the patient deems it necessary. Remember- the more the device is out, the longer the treatment time will be!
Advantages: Can be removed at will, more hygienic as food does not get stuck in them, can be cleaned easily.