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4 Things All Adults Should Consider Before Getting Braces

Many of us survived teen years donning a “metal mouth.” Some of us didn’t go through this rite of passage due and now look at our smile wishing we had. Maybe we’ve seen our children experience braces and see how much less obtrusive and easier to care for they are these days.

It’s never too late for braces. More and more adults are realizing this, opting for orthodontic treatment to fix gaps, straighten teeth, and correct bite problems. Approximately 1 million Americans and Canadians over age 18 wear braces, according to the American Academy of General Dentistry.

In a 2011 article, the LA Times reported a 24 percent uptick in adult braces from 1989 through 2008. Reasons cited for the increase include affordability, shorter wear time, improved comfort, and a less noticeable appearance.

If you are thinking about getting braces later in life, here are four things to consider:

1. How will you pay for them?

Consult with your dental insurance company to see if your plan covers any orthodontic costs. If not, are you prepared to pay for them out of pocket?

On average, comprehensive orthodontic treatment—aka braces—costs around $5,000, according to Healthcare Blue Book. Delta Dental reports a similar price and notes that this applies to metal braces. You will likely pay more for other options.

2. Find an orthodontist

Ask your dentist or friends for recommendations. Visit the American Association of Orthodontists to find AAO orthodontists near you. Schedule consultations with a couple of them. It is wise to get at least two opinions. You will want to pick someone you trust, whose hours and location are convenient, and who can provide affordable treatment. The blog What’s in a Smile, which chronicles a woman’s year with braces at age 41, offers a great list of steps to follow and questions to ask when selecting an orthodontist.

3. Research your options

Today, braces go beyond the stainless-steel version that typically comes to mind. Additional options include ceramic, gold-plated or lingual braces, or Invisalign. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Consult with your dentist or orthodontist to determine what will work best for you. Learn more about these braces varieties at ArchWired and the American Academy of General Dentistry’s KnowYourTeeth.com.

4. Be honest: Are you up for it?

In addition to financial responsibility, braces require time and effort. Adult braces are worn for 18 months to three years, according to the American Academy of General Dentistry. Oral hygiene will require more commitment than usual and certain foods must be avoided to avoid developing oral health problems and damaging your braces. SimpleSteps, an oral health site reviewed by faculty of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, provides a comprehensive article about oral hygiene for orthodontic patients; check it out for tips on good care while wearing braces and to learn what will be required of you.



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