Am I too old to wear a brace?
PUBLISHED: 17:39 16 April 2015 | UPDATED: 17:09 21 May 2015
Paul Oades, Principal Orthodontist at the North Devon Orthodontic Centre gives his thoughts on wearing braces as an adult
You are never too old to wear a brace. I treat patients from 8-80 years old. The thing that often changes, the older you become, is your reason for wanting to wear a brace and what type of brace you wear.
For many brace wearing children, the overriding factor is usually aesthetics – straight teeth to look good in prom photographs or when smiling, often resulting in an increase in self confidence.
Reasons for choosing to wear a brace as an adult are varied. Improved mouth function, how your teeth fit together and bite, making other dental work easier, losing weight, preparing for a wedding, never having had the opportunity before and yes, having straighter teeth and a more confident smile are all reasons patients have given me.
THOUGHTS ON WEARING BRACES AS AN ADULT
1) Many of my patients worry about what they will look like wearing a brace. Discrete and invisible brace options like Clarity tooth coloured braces and Incognito braces that can be fitted on the inside of the teeth are options available to us. Think Tom Cruise, Kate Middleton, Justin Bieber – all have worn braces when in the public eye. However in my experience, most people who notice you wearing a brace only want to know if it hurts and whether they can wear a brace too.
2) So, does it hurt? In the vast majority of cases the answer is no. There can be some minor discomfort after the brace has been fitted, and for the first 2-5 days after a brace is adjusted. We recommend using mild pain relief to ease the problem. Sometimes patients can experience mouth ulcers from brackets rubbing their cheek, this is not too common and topical measures, such as relief wax, help to alleviate the problem. These symptoms rarely persist for long.
3) Is it hard to wear a brace? Orthodontic appliances do require more cleaning. You will have to be prepared to spend a bit more time peering into mirrors with small brushes and floss to get to those hard to reach seeds, salad leaves and nuts! With modern teeth cleaning accessories this aspect is easy to deal with and shouldn’t put you off.
4) How long does it take? Anything from 6 months to 3 years depending on how simple the alignment is. You rapidly get used to wearing a brace to the point where, even if you are wearing metal train track style braces, they seem invisible.
5) How much of a commitment is it? There are both a financial and time commitments to consider. Costs and duration of treatment will vary from case to case depending on complexity. Most orthodontists will make it very manageable financially for their adult patients, and allow you to pay monthly or each time you visit instead of in one lump sum. You should always ask for a written statement of cost, so as there are no surprises. As for the time commitment, braces can take up to an hour to fit initially and regular 10-20 minute check up appointments need to be factored in every 6-10 weeks. Allow another hour appointment for the brace to be removed and your retainers fitted at the end of treatment.
6) You should also make sure you discuss with your orthodontist what is a realistic result to expect from orthodontic treatment on your teeth.
Paul Oades is lead clinician and a specialist orthodontist at The North Devon Orthodontic Centre in Barnstaple, North Devon. He has many years experience of treating both NHS and self-funded patients. He can be reached at: 01271 343688. www.ndortho.co.uk