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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

/articleid/3733736/1/pictures/1897233">Photo - Photos by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
Photos by Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman

If you have veneers installed, you might be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures because of the enamel that was removed. This should clear up within a few days.

What are the risk factors?

Over time, metal brackets have been improved to decrease the likelihood that they will cut your lips or cheeks. Some patients find their gums or lips irritated by new equipment. Wax is sometimes used on brackets or wires to help prevent them from irritating your mouth. In rare cases, people have swallowed loose equipment.

Also, if you don't practice good oral hygiene while wearing braces, you run the risk of tooth discoloration.

One of the long-term risk factors is that your teeth could move back to their original positions. Teeth want to go back to the way they were before your braces. Wearing your retainers regularly after your braces have been removed can help reduce this risk.

What's the recovery time?

Most adults don't want to be in braces any longer than needed, so often they're compliant with what their orthodontists asks of them. Generally speaking, adults are in braces for 1 1/2 years to 2 1/2 years, depending on the type of problem.

Once your braces are removed, your orthodontists might recommend you wear plastic retainers at night, which will help serve as a mold for how your teeth should remain. Another option is for a permanent retainer to be installed in your mouth to ensure teeth stay better in place.

What's the follow-up?

While you have your braces, you regularly will go in for adjustments. If you have metal braces, you will go in every four to 10 weeks. If you have Invisalign, you will get new aligners about every two weeks.

While you have your braces, it's important to listen to the instructions of your dentist and orthodontist, for it can better ensure you get the best results possible.


Dr. Melissa Farrow, of The Brace Place; Dr. J. Michael Steffen, of The Brace Place; Delta Dental; Invisalign; American Association of Orthodontists; Australian Society of Orthodontists; American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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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