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What's It Like: To get braces as an adult

It used to be rare to see an adult with braces, but there has been a growing interest among adults about correcting their smiles. Options include the traditional wire-and-bracket braces, as well as the clear Invisalign brand.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: December 2, 2012

Why get braces?

It used to be rare to see an adult with braces, but there has been a growing interest among adults about correcting their smiles. Currently, about 1 million people older than 18 wear braces.

Some adults choose to get braces to enhance their careers. Regardless of whether it's fair, appearance can matter in certain career fields.

Some adults wanted braces as children but didn't get them for various reasons. Sometimes, it simply comes down to money. On average, adult braces cost between $5,000 and $7,000. Some insurance companies offer plans that cover a portion of the cost, but many companies stop covering braces after a person turns 19. Some orthodontists offer financing options through their offices.

What happens when you get braces?

There are a few options in correcting your teeth, including metal braces, tooth-colored braces, braces that go behind the teeth and clear aligners.

Metal braces are probably the most well-known approach. To install these braces, your orthodontist will glue individual brackets to your teeth. Next, wires will be placed through the brackets. Each time you come in for an adjustment, your orthodontist will adjust these wires to help gradually move your teeth. Your orthodontist might also use small rubber bands to help fix your bite.

Invisalign is another option that works to correct certain types of problems. With Invisalign, you wear a series of clear plastic aligners that gradually adjust your teeth. Invisalign doesn't always correct bites as well as metal brackets. For example, if you only suffer from simple teeth crowding, Invisalign might work for you. But if the corrections needed are more complicated, your orthodontists might not use Invisalign. It will be up to you and your orthodontist to decide which option is best for your.

Porcelain veneers are one of the more expensive options for correction. Veneers are a compilation of several thin ceramic layers that replace original tooth enamel and an adhesive layer. To apply a veneer, a small amount of the original tooth enamel is removed to create room for it to fit in your mouth.

Does it hurt?

For up to two weeks after your braces are first installed, your mouth likely will be sore. Each time after your braces are adjusted, you might be sore, especially if your orthodontist installs a larger wire or makes a bigger adjustment than usual.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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