Dental braces have been part of orthodontics before the medical field was ever formally established. According to Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, archaeologists can trace the use of braces back to ancient Egypt, or around 3100 B.C. Crude metal bands and animal fibers found on the teeth of mummies suggest ancient Egyptians valued having straight teeth in the afterlife. In later centuries, other cultures used similar braces-style appliances to treat dental alignment problems in living patients.
By the mid-19th century, orthodontics began to evolve as a professional medical field. Early orthodontists improved upon past appliances and eventually created what we know as modern braces. The system of brackets, wires, and rubber bands is the most efficient design for correcting problems like:
- Dental crowding
- Tooth gaps
Today’s braces are more comfortable and efficient than past models, but they follow the same basic principles.
Orthodontists glue brackets to a patient’s teeth and thread a stainless steel archwire in between each bracket. By periodically adjusting the archwire, orthodontists like BHO’s Dr. Monica Madan can gradually apply increasing pressure to move teeth. With each archwire adjustment, orthodontists steadily improve smile alignment until patients have perfectly straight rows of teeth.
Although braces are one of the oldest and most trusted tools in orthodontics, patients still have plenty of questions before undergoing treatment. Adult patients in particular tend to share some common concerns. For instance, many adult patients associate braces with younger people, which leads to questions like:
- Do braces work for adults?
- Are there any unique issues with adult braces?
- What orthodontic options can adults choose from?
Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more!
Do Braces Work for Adults? In a Word, Yes!
While some people associate braces with younger people, braces serve as an effective treatment for patients of all ages. As long as an adult has healthy teeth and gums, braces are a viable solution for alignment problems on the path to a perfect smile.
In fact, more adults are wearing braces today than ever before. According to statistics from the American Association of Orthodontists, one in every three orthodontic patients today is over age 18. That’s an all-time high number of adult patients in the field.
Regardless of whether you are 18 or 80, braces follow the same basic principles to move teeth. With the aid of brackets, wires, and sometimes rubber bands or other appliances, orthodontists use selective pressure to correct misalignments and bite problems. This method is highly effective at all ages and can treat both simple and complex alignment cases.
Differences Between Adult Braces and Braces for Children & Teens
Now that we have established that braces do work for both adults and children, we can look at how age affects treatment specifics.
The most significant factor influencing braces treatment involves oral anatomy. Experts recommend that patients undergo orthodontic treatment as children because the face and jawbones are still growing. Growing bones are easier to work with and therefore reduce overall treatment time.
As an adult with fully formed bones and muscles, that means braces treatment can take a little longer to complete. Depending on your specific alignment issues, treatment can take anywhere from 18-36 months to finish. However, accelerated orthodontic measures can significantly reduce this time period.
Beyond physical differences, adults often have different motivations for seeking out orthodontic care. Although people of all ages can benefit from the aesthetic boost and health improvements caused by braces, adults may have unique alignment problems caused by natural aging. Similar to the way our skin naturally wrinkles over time, our teeth also move as we age. For adults, this continued tooth movement can lead to:
- Worsened bite problems caused by expanding jawbones and moving teeth.
- Significant bottom teeth crowding caused by poor oral habits (e.g. mouth-breathing,
tongue-thrusting, etc.), facial trauma, or decreased bone density.
- Tooth gaps caused by gum issues, crowding complications, and poor oral habits.
- Post-orthodontic teeth shifting caused by irregular retainer use.
Fortunately, braces are versatile enough to correct all of these problems and leave patients with healthier mouths and flawless smiles.
Orthodontic patients today can choose from a few different types of braces. Although all of these models use the same bracket + wire method to move teeth, they differ slightly when it comes to materials and bracket placement:
- Conventional metal braces are the type of braces you are most likely to recognize. Generally made from stainless steel, today’s metal braces are much smaller and more comfortable than the braces used in decades past. Orthodontists and patients today still value conventional braces for their durability and consistent results.
- Ceramic braces are like conventional braces but use ceramic, tooth-colored brackets instead of metal ones. Ceramic brackets are more inconspicuous to others and some patients find them more comfortable than metal ones. At the same time, ceramic is less durable than metal, which increases the risk of damaged brackets.
- Lingual braces use metal brackets and wires like conventional braces, but they are placed on the tongue-side of teeth. As such, they are completely discreet and won’t change your appearance at all.
However, many patients find lingual braces uncomfortable and experience unpleasant side effects, like temporary lisps and mouth or tongue sores during treatment. Lingual braces also tend to move teeth at slower rates, which makes them more expensive and less efficient than other types of braces.
If you have more questions about which type of braces is the right solution for you, schedule an appointment at one of Beverly Hills Orthodontics’ four Los Angeles-area offices today!
Ready for a Perfect Smile? Contact Beverly Hills Orthodontics Today To Begin Treatment
Braces don’t just work for adults—they deliver excellent, reliable results. Whether you are 8 or 68, braces are one of the most effective ways to obtain a perfectly aligned smile.
At Beverly Hills Orthodontics, we offer braces treatments from each of our four locations, in Beverly Hills/Century City, Toluca Lake, Alhambra, or Downtown Los Angeles. Available to patients of all ages, braces can correct mild-to-severe alignment problems ranging from slight crowding to significant bite issues. Contact BHO today to learn how braces can benefit your smile!