The idea of wearing braces as an adult can be tricky to come to terms with – how will they look and feel? Will the result be worth the cost? Can gaining confidence really start with your smile? We asked Orthodontic Specialist Dr Anthony from Elleven Dental to talk us through the options available.
“There are generally two types of braces: removable or fixed appliances,” explains Dr Anthony. “How long patients wear braces depends on the severity of the problem, and varies from patient to patient. As a rule of thumb, 12-18 months is typical, but many factors can come into play. Retainers are different, since they’re usually recommended after braces to maintain the position of teeth.”
Here’s what you should know about all three types.
“Patients usually wear removable braces around three months longer than fixed appliances, but it depends on the severity of the case,” explains Dr Anthony. “One of the most popular types is the ‘invisible’ style, similar to a gum-shield.
“In my opinion, they’re best suited to treat mild problems – so if there are a lot of issues I wouldn’t always recommend them. However, they’re incredibly user-friendly and there aren’t any sharp bits or wires, which means they’re simple and comfortable to wear. Another bonus is they’re very discreet and you can take them out to eat, or clean your teeth.”
“Lingual braces are fixed behind the teeth, and they’re slightly more expensive than the ceramic (tooth-coloured) or metal styles, which are also fixed,” says Dr Anthony. “Lingual braces are popular since you can’t see them at all, even less than the ‘invisible’-style removable braces.”
The downside? They’re less comfortable than removable appliances, and can take a while to get used to, he says. “Some patients find they develop a slight lisp – [but] this usually disappears within a couple of weeks,” says Dr Anthony. However, if your job involves public speaking, for example, these might not be right for you.
When it comes to deciding between lingual braces and ceramic or metal, it’s worth remembering that with lingual braces it’s easier to clean the outside of the teeth. Learning about oral hygiene and how to brush properly is key, too. “It’s very important to brush your teeth thoroughly and regularly, with a fluoride toothpaste,” says Dr Anthony. And a good-quality toothbrush with a round brush head, like the award-winning Oral-B Genius 9000, will get to those hard-to-reach areas with ease.
Another factor to consider is drinking fizzy drinks or juices when wearing ceramic or metal braces. “It can cause damage around the outside of the brace and leave small unsightly ‘windows’ on the teeth,” warns Dr Anthony.
If staining is a concern for you, try Oral-B’s 3D White luxe perfection toothpaste, which whitens while strengthening and protecting teeth.
“Retainers are not an orthodontic appliance, since they don’t move the teeth,” says Dr Anthony. “But once braces are removed, retainers are often essential to help prevent the teeth moving and to retain the position of the teeth. Some can be worn as little as two or three nights a week.”
Research by Dr Robert Little, Professor of Orthodontics at the University of Washington in Seattle, outlines the importance of wearing retainers after treatment.
Dr Anthony explains, “The research shows that you need long-term retention, and wearing retainers gives patients the best chance of maintaining alignment. Research found that without retainers, teeth are likely to move or relapse back to their original position – so it’s definitely worth discussing options with your dentist.”
Are you considering adult braces, or already wear them? Do you have any tips or insight? Share your experiences in the comments section below, and visit the Oral-B page for more advice, products and information.