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Guide to Adult Braces

It used to be that braces were mainly for teenagers and children. Now, braces are for everyone, even adults. With a wide selection of different types of braces available and ever-changing technology, it is easier than ever for adults to get that beautiful, straight smile they have always wanted.

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Types of Braces

Conventional Braces

Conventional braces are the traditional way to go when straightening your teeth. You can get traditional metal braces or opt for more discreet clear braces.  Treatment time is typically the shortest with conventional braces. They are also the most noticeable of the different types of braces.

Clear Plastic Aligners

Made popular by companies such as Invisalign, clear plastic aligners are made up of clear trays that you insert into your mouth. You are instructed to wear the aligner most of the day, with the exception of when you are eating or brushing your teeth. They will ideally remain in your mouth for 20-22 hours per day. While not completely invisible, aligners are typically much less noticeable than other types of braces. Aligners do, however, require some self-discipline. You have to make sure you wear them as often as your orthodontist instructs you to. You also have to make sure that you switch out your aligners on the advised schedule, or treatment can take longer.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are very similar to conventional braces. The main difference is that instead of having elastic bands or metal ties to help move your teeth, the wire goes through a special clip or bracket on your tooth. Basically, they are conventional braces, but without the ligature.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces also are very similar to conventional braces. The main difference is that the brackets are on the back side of your teeth instead of the front. Because of this, they are essentially invisible. They do, however, cost more than other forms of braces.


Without insurance, traditional and clear/ceramic braces typically will cost anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000. Lingual braces are a little more pricey, at around $6,000 to $10,000. Clear plastic aligners are comparable in cost to traditional braces, with the price being $4,000 to $7,000.

Insurance typically will not cover braces for patients over 18 years of age. However, it is always worth checking into. Some insurance companies will team up with certain orthodontists in order to get you a discounted rate. If you aren’t able to get any part of your cost covered, you can use a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or ask your orthodontist if they will work out a payment plan for you. Some orthodontists will even help you get financed through a third party company.


Conventional, Lingual, & Self-Ligating Braces

Braces work by placing pressure on the teeth in order to change their position. This is done is a series of adjustments over a period of time, making the change very gradual.

The process first starts with a consultation with your orthodontist. You often will need a referral from your regular dentist in order to set an appointment with the orthodontist. During your consultation, the orthodontist will look at your teeth and see what will need to be done. They will likely take x-rays and make a mold of your teeth. After this initial consultation, your orthodontist will create a treatment plan, based on your specific dental needs.

Your initial appointment is usually the longest. This involves a thorough cleaning and conditioning of  the teeth in order for the brackets to “stick” properly. The brackets are cemented onto the teeth, and the wire is inserted through the brackets. Your orthodontist should cover proper care and cleaning, including foods to stay away from, what to do in certain circumstances like if a wire pops out, etc.

You will typically have appointments every 3-4 weeks, depending on your treatment plan. At these appointments, your braces will be adjusted. This typically involves removing your old wire and replacing it with a new one, slightly different from the old one in order to move your teeth.

This will typically go on until your teeth are in their desired positions. At this point, your braces will be removed, and you will be given a retainer to wear. It’s very important to take care of and wear your retainer however often your orthodontist recommends you to wear it. This is what is going to keep your teeth in their new, straight positions.

Proper care is also very important while you are wearing your braces. You are encouraged to stay away from sticky and hard foods, such as some candies, apples, etc. This could actually pop off a bracket or damage your wires. Thorough cleaning is also very important. Food gets stuck in braces very easily. It’s important to brush and floss after every meal, as food remnants left in between your teeth can lead to cavities and decay.


The initial process for aligners is the same as with conventional braces. You have your initial consultation with your orthodontist, and they have x-rays and dental impressions of your teeth. After that, a plan of treatment is devised, and your sets of trays are made. It typically will take about 4 weeks to get your trays in.

You typically will have to switch to a new tray about every two weeks. Aligners work by slowly shifting your teeth bit by bit until they are in the desired positions. Invisalign and other clear plastic aligners are usually very effective, but typically take longer than other types of braces..

However, there are some circumstances in which aligners are not the best option. This is usually if you have a lot of movement that needs to be made or if you have teeth that still need to grow in.

Length of Treatment

As an adult, the length of treatment may be slightly longer than that of a child’s. Since your bones have stopped growing, some structural changes may not be possible without having to undergo surgery.

Length of treatment is usually the shortest with conventional braces. They can sometimes be a little longer with clear plastic aligners, especially if you don’t keep them in as much as you should and don’t change the trays on schedule.

Most adults will complete treatment in 18 months to 3 years, with the average time being about 2 years. This is subjective to how extensive your treatment is.

Parris Orthodontics

Dr. William Parris and his team at Parris Orthodontics have more than 30 years of experience providing excellent orthodontic care to both children and adults. With their office being centrally located in Germantown, TN, they are able to treat patients in Collierville, Cordova, Memphis, Olive Branch, and more. Dr. Parris loves what he does, especially when he gets to see the beautiful smiles his patients give him at the end of their treatment. Contact us today with any questions or to set up an appointment.


Posted by Bill Parris at 13:39
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