Gone are the days when braces were seen as awkward ‘metal mouth’ contraptions sported solely by teenagers. With adults now making up to 20% of braces wearers, our society increasingly understands that having a beautiful, healthy pair of pearly whites will benefit you for life.
Likewise, orthodontic treatments have also come a long way. Several different types of braces for adults are now available - and even traditional metal braces are more discreet, flexible and effective than ever before. But how do you choose the best type of braces for you? Are metal braces a viable option?
Are metal braces the way to go in your 30s?
As an experienced orthodontist I’m often asked about the metal braces vs invisible braces debate, the pros and cons of various orthodontic treatments, and even the apprehensive question: ‘Do I need metal braces?’
The truth is there’s no clear-cut answer regarding which type of braces is best for adult wearers. After all, everyone has different teeth, jaws, gums and orthodontic issues (plus budgets and lifestyles!).
The first question is: Why is it you need braces?
The most important factor in determining the best type of braces for you is the severity of your orthodontic issue: is it functional, or aesthetic? Does it impede or pain you in daily life – when chewing or speaking, for instance?
Generally speaking, severe cases requiring major orthodontic work will require metal braces, while those with mild to moderate issues may choose to opt for Invisalign instead. But there are many other factors – and treatment options – to keep in mind.
More factors to consider:
Length of treatment may also be a deciding factor. How much time can you commit? Are you wearing braces in preparation for a wedding or special occasion?
Although everyone’s teeth and gums will respond to orthodontic treatment at different paces, overall it tends to take longer for adults to get the same results from their braces. This is because our jaw bones and muscles are harder and less malleable than before.
While treatment times vary, Invisalign braces are typically a longer method of treatment than metal braces – worth considering if you’re short on time in the lead-up to a big day.
Your lifestyle is another important criterion to keep in mind: will the dietary restrictions required by metal braces be doable for you? Are you able to accommodate frequent orthodontist visits and check-ups? Do you lead an active lifestyle, meaning the more fragile braces – such as ceramic ones – may be prone to breakage?
Finally, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable with the aesthetics of whichever treatment you choose. While some adults are too self-conscious for visible braces, others believe that the temporary inconvenience of traditional metal braces’ visibility is worth it for the shorter treatment time and long-term benefits of healthy straight teeth.
Traditional metal braces: a viable option?
Traditional metal, wire-and-bracket braces have come a long way in both appearance and comfort thanks to technological advances and upgraded materials. They’re now far less conspicuous and intrusive than their forerunners, and gentler on the mouth and gums.
They remain the best option for severe orthodontic issues requiring major adjustments to the jaw or teeth alignment. As the fastest and strongest orthodontic treatment available, they’re ideal for those with limited time or an active lifestyle.
Other types of braces - is there something more subtle?
In comparison, Invisalign is a more flexible and invisible orthodontic treatment. These clear removable aligners are fitted to your teeth and switched regularly (generally every two weeks), meaning there’s no need for permanent fixtures on your teeth. This makes Invisalign perfect for people with less severe orthodontic issues who are concerned about traditional braces’ look.
There are also ‘compromise’ options for those who require a more powerful treatment option than Invisalign but also want invisible braces. For instance, ceramic braces are a less visible alternative to metal braces, as their brackets are made of ceramic rather than metal. However, they are delicate and require extra care when playing sport, eating or brushing their teeth.
Lingual braces are another great compromise between metal and invisible braces: they’re similar to traditional metal braces except fixed to the back of your teeth instead. However, they take longer to make (as they are individually customised), and can be trickier to maintain than traditional braces.
Whatever your lifestyle, budget, and orthodontic issue, it’s best to pick braces that not only achieve great results for your smile and bite but are also comfortable and easy to clean.
If you’d like to learn more about the variety of orthodontic treatments available, or find out which option is best for your needs, book a consultation with the team at Inner West Orthodontics.