Frequently Asked Questions About Adult Orthodontic Treatment
Gone are the days when braces were the sole domain of youngsters!
Since 2021, 1 in 4 patients who are entrusting their oral health and aesthetic in the hands of orthodontists are adults.
The adult braces boom shows no signs of stopping!
Alexander F. is a member of this unstoppable wave of adult orthodontics. He sought Dr. Lee’s expertise to start his braces treatment and get a second opinion on his wisdom teeth.
Years later, people are still showering his dazzling smile with compliments!
You, too, can enjoy the medical, social, and professional perks of a beaming smile.
All it takes is a complimentary consultation with Dr. Lee. Leave the rest to us.
What are Braces?
Braces are devices used by orthodontists to correct crowded or misaligned teeth and jaws.
It’s not just about a winning smile, though. Sure, braces give you straighter teeth, but they also improve your overall oral health.
And don’t worry if you think they’re only for kids or teens. Adults get them, too!
So, if your teeth are playing a game of Twister, braces might just be the ticket to a picture-perfect smile!
Traditional Metal Braces
When you picture braces, it’s these robust stainless steel apparatus that likely spring to mind first.
Thanks to the wonders of tech advancements, these braces have evolved to be tinier, comfier, and more productive, which explains why they’re still a hot favorite among patients.
They are known for delivering results faster than any other types of braces.
But, the cosmetic aspect and challenges associated with brushing and flossing can be deal-breakers for some.
They use brackets made from a material that matches the color of your teeth, making these braces practically undetectable and blending affordability with stealth.
For teens and adults seeking a low-key look, ceramic braces are a superb choice.
But, they do have their downsides – they’re bulkier and have a knack for getting stained.
They’re similar to metal and ceramic braces, but with a twist — instead of using elastic ties to hold the wire down, self-ligating braces use little doors or clips. This minor detail makes self-ligating braces easier to tweak.
So, if you’re not a fan of discomfort and long dentist appointments, we’d suggest giving self-ligating braces a go.
Also known as “inside braces,” this orthodontic tool comes with personalized brackets that are fixed on the inner side of each tooth. A wire links these brackets, helping to nudge your teeth into the right spot from the inside out.
On the upside, lingual braces are pretty much invisible, which is a big win for patients worried about their look.
But, they do mean more frequent and longer dental visits, and keeping them clean can be a bit of a hassle. Plus, they might irritate your tongue and mess with your speech at first.
What is Orthodontic Headgear?
Orthodontic headgear is a unique dental tool meant to rectify challenges with teeth or jaw alignment. Picture a unique brace connected to your teeth, featuring straps that wrap around your head or neck.
Dental experts turn to headgear when the teeth or jaw need an extra push to fall into the right place.
Various types of headgear exist, and the one best for you hinges on your particular situation. Certain headgear aids in fixing an overbite or underbite, while others are a great match for misaligned teeth or narrow jaws.
When Should I Choose Braces Over Clear Retainers?
Both traditional braces and clear retainers are fantastic orthodontic options! However, there are a few instances when we would recommend braces, such as:
- Complex Cases: Braces are often better suited to handle complex or severe cases such as large gaps, severe overcrowding, or significant over/underbites.
- Compliance Issues: If you’re worried you might forget to wear or lose your clear aligners (which need to be worn 20-22 hours a day), braces are physically attached to your teeth, so there’s no risk of that happening.
- Regular Adjustments: Braces allow your orthodontist to make regular and precise adjustments at your check-ups, which are beneficial for tricky dental issues.
What Dental Issues Do Braces Help Address?
Braces help solve a variety of dental issues, such as:
- Crossbite: This condition occurs when some of your upper teeth bite inside your lower ones.
- Crowded teeth: When your teeth are trying to throw a party in a space that’s too small, braces help to spread them out, giving them room to breathe.
- Gaps: On the flip side, if your teeth are like two ships passing in the night, braces can reel them back in and close up those gaps.
- Open bite: When you’ve got a gap between your upper and lower teeth, even when your jaw is closed.
- Overbite or Underbite: These dental issues occur when your upper and lower teeth are misaligned. Braces can line your teeth up just right so they meet like they should.
How Much Do Braces Cost on Average?
The price of braces varies depending on the necessary treatment type and the severity of your dental issues. On average, our patients pay:
- Between $5,000 and $6,000 for traditional and ceramic braces;
- Between $5,000 and $13,000 for lingual braces, and
- Around $5,500 for self-ligating braces.
Are Braces Covered by Insurance?
Even though a majority of health plans don’t include orthodontic treatment for adults over 18, they may make an exception for children’s braces.
For those whose dental or health insurance plan doesn’t extend to orthodontic coverage, additional orthodontic insurance is a suitable alternative. More often than not, insurance covers up to 50% of the expense of a child’s braces.
Also, some insurance plans may foot the bill for the whole or a part of the braces cost if deemed medically necessary.
Investing in a standalone dental insurance plan could amplify the odds of your braces being insured. On average, the cost for traditional metal braces was $3,407 for insured patients back in 2017. Also, following the braces removal, prescribed items such as anti-cavity fluoride rinse could also be eligible for coverage under dental insurance plans.
How Can I Deduct My Expenses Without an Insurance Plan?
If you don’t have insurance, don’t sweat it! You’ve got options.
If your braces are deemed medically necessary, you could claim tax deductions. But, to qualify for this deduction, your costs need to surpass a specific limit. So keep a record of every penny spent, including those seemingly tiny co-pays and check-ups — they can accumulate over time.
Braces are a hefty expense, so you might want to weigh the following payment alternatives:
- Flexible Spending Account
- Health Savings Account
- Dental Discount Plans
- Personal loans or credit cards
- Orthodontist-offered payment plans
If your health insurance plan comes with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), your orthodontic care expenses might be eligible for reimbursement.
Moreover, if your employer provides the perk, you could contribute to your FSA tax-free!
Additionally, if your health insurance plan has a high deductible, you might qualify for a Health Savings Account (HSA). HSAs offer tax-free contributions that can be used to cover most medical and dental costs.
Does the Process of Getting Braces Hurt?
The actual process of getting braces put on is typically painless!
You might feel a bit of pressure and your mouth may feel a bit sore for a few days after, but over-the-counter pain meds will help you with the discomfort.
Will I Undergo Tooth Extraction Before Getting Braces?
It’s not a given that you’ll need a tooth extraction before getting braces. It really depends on your specific dental situation.
For instance, if there’s not enough room in your mouth for all your teeth to align properly, or if there’s severe crowding, an extraction might be needed. Your orthodontist will take a good look at your teeth and let you know the best course of action for your unique case.
How Often Will I See My Orthodontist for Dental Check-Ups?
You’ll see your orthodontist for check-ups every 4 to 6 weeks. These visits are essential because they allow your orthodontist to adjust your braces, keeping your teeth moving in the right direction.
Why Can’t I Bite Down With Braces?
The following 4 reasons might explain why you’re having a hard time biting down with braces, especially if you’re but a few days into your orthodontic treatment:
- Your Braces are Settling In: Initially, the braces are a foreign presence, so your mouth isn’t accustomed to the new pressure. Depending on the specific fitting of your braces, you might require some time to bite as effectively as you once did. With this new arrangement, you may find your teeth meeting in unexpected spots while chewing.
- Your Teeth are Moving: Despite the initial discomfort, the tenderness caused by braces is a sign of their effectiveness! Your teeth are transitioning from their current positions to more suitable ones. Nevertheless, your teeth aren’t eager to relocate without a fuss, so they must be gently persuaded. This sort of bodily stress is initially painful, but the discomfort eases as you adapt.
- Bite Misalignment: Your bite health is determined by how the upper and lower jaws connect — ideally, the upper and lower teeth should fit together seamlessly. If your bite is misaligned, you may encounter issues like overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites, which disrupt your usual bite, making it harder to bite down entirely.
- Your Orthodontist Installed Bite Ramps: Sometimes, orthodontists install bite ramps when the top teeth make contact with the lower braces, avoiding interaction between the two sets of teeth. This way, your brackets are safeguarded from potential breakage when you bite down, assisting your braces in guiding your teeth into place as you close your mouth.
How Should I Brush My Teeth With Braces?
Brushing your teeth with braces might feel a little weird at first, but don’t sweat it, you’ll get the hang of it soon!
- Start off by taking your time — you need to be gentle to avoid damaging your braces.
- Aim your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards your gums and brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth.
- For the braces themselves, try to angle your brush so you get above and below each bracket.
- Don’t forget to give your tongue a good brush, too!
What is the Best Toothbrush for Braces?
Using the right toothbrush is crucial while wearing braces!
Numerous orthodontists recommend electric toothbrushes because they have rotating/oscillating heads that do a terrific job of cleaning around brackets and wires.
If you’re more of a manual toothbrush person, look for one with soft bristles and a small, compact head that can get into the nooks and crannies.
Using interdental brushes when you have braces is a total game-changer since:
- They get into those hard-to-reach areas: Braces have lots of small, tight spaces that your regular toothbrush might miss. Interdental brushes are just the right size to get into those gaps and clean out any lurking food particles or plaque.
- They protect your gums: When you use an interdental brush, you’re helping to keep your gums healthy by removing food particles, which may cause gum disease.
- They’re easy to use: All you need to do is gently move the brush back and forth between your teeth and braces. It’s a simple addition to your oral hygiene routine that makes a big difference!
- They can be used on the go: Interdental brushes are small and portable, so they’re great for quick clean-ups after meals when you’re out and about.
What is the Best Dental Floss for Braces?
When it comes to flossing with braces, choosing the perfect dental floss is the make-or-break factor. Here are some of our top picks:
- Waxed floss: This type of floss is less likely to shred or break when moving around your brackets and wires. And, it slides more easily, too!
- Floss threaders: They are like needles for your floss. You thread the floss through one end and then can easily navigate it under your wires!
- Water flossers: These devices shoot a stream of water that can get in between teeth and around brackets — a mini power-washer for your teeth!
- Orthodontic floss: This floss has a stiffened end that makes it easier to thread under and around braces, and a spongy part that helps clean around appliances.
Can I Sleep With Wax on My Braces?
Yes, you can sleep with wax on your braces!
To alleviate the discomfort caused by braces at night, apply wax to the troublesome spots or even your entire braces set before heading to bed. One application of dental wax can last throughout the night, allowing you to enjoy a restful sleep without the worry of irritation.
Swallowing tiny fragments of wax while sleeping might occur. However, this shouldn’t cause any concern.
Dental wax is completely non-toxic, akin to that harmless school glue a kindergarten friend may have ingested years ago. Furthermore, the risk of choking is extremely low since any broken-off pieces generally disintegrate into smaller bits that pose no choking threat.
What Foods Should I Eat While Wearing Braces?
Navigating mealtime with braces is all about picking foods that are gentle on the hardware in your mouth.
Below are some of the best food choices to incorporate into your diet when you have braces:
- Fruit, such as bananas, watermelon, and strawberries
- Grilled chicken or fish
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Pasta with tomato sauce
- Pizza (without the crust)
- Rice and beans
- Vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, and celery (cooked)
By adhering to these guidelines, you’ll find that a vast array of your preferred dishes remain on the menu; they simply require a touch of innovation in their execution.
Consider this a unique adventure into the realm of culinary exploration!
Can My Teeth Become Misaligned After Orthodontic Treatment?
The moments right after your braces are taken off are crucial in your journey towards optimal dental alignment. Your teeth possess a remarkable ability to remember their original positions, and won’t think twice about moving back once the braces are gone.
This stage, referred to as the retention phase, demands some additional support to keep your teeth in their corrected spots during the initial days and weeks post-braces. The ideal tool for this job is a retainer, a device specifically designed for this mission.
Though it may cause slight discomfort at first, the retainer is your chief defense against your teeth’s inherent inclination to revert to their former locations.
If you accidentally skip wearing it for a couple of hours or even an entire day, there’s no need to worry.
However, neglecting your retainer routine for an extended period could potentially compromise the outcomes of your orthodontic treatment, possibly calling for a reiteration of the braces process!
- Severity of the dental issue: If you’ve got minor spacing or crowding, your brace treatment will be on the shorter side. But, if we’re talking serious bite issues or severe crowding, it’s likely to be a longer road.
- Your age: Kids and teens often see faster results because their jaws are still growing and teeth move more easily. Adults have to be a bit more patient.
- Your diligence with care: Keeping your appointments and following your orthodontist’s instructions will impact the length of your brace treatment.
Am I Too Old for Braces?
Here’s why you’re never too old for braces:
- No age limit: Adults of all ages can benefit from them to fix their teeth alignment!
- Dental health improvement: Straighter teeth aren’t just about a great smile. They can also help improve oral hygiene and reduce risks of gum disease and tooth decay, no matter what age you are.
- Modern, discreet options: If you’re concerned about looking like a teen, don’t worry! We offer more inconspicuous brace options, such as clear braces.
- Confidence boost: You’re never too old to feel great about yourself!