Many people associate braces with middle school, but getting braces as an adult is becoming much more common. Almost 20% of braces wearers are adults. This is mostly due to the rise of more subtle, less visible options like ceramic braces and Invisalign.
Why do adults choose to get braces?
Teeth can shift with age - because of injury, a condition called tongue thrust, or natural growth – and some adults find that their previously straight teeth have become crooked and overcrowded. They may start experiencing jaw pain, having difficulty properly cleaning their teeth, or simply facing a smile they find unattractive.
Other adults get braces because they've always had crooked teeth, but their parents couldn't afford to pay for braces when they were growing up. Finally, some people say they're just finally getting around to it, or that they want straighter teeth for a new career.
Overall, many adults see braces as a worthwhile investment of a few awkward years in exchange for decades of straight teeth.
I had braces as a kid. Why do I need them again?
Teeth shift as you get older, and some people's teeth shift more than others. If you didn't wear your retainer as much as the orthodontist recommended, or are simply unlucky with your jaw's natural growth, your teeth can return to their original position. Orthodontists have also recently realized that retainers should be worn much longer than they recommended in previous decades, and sometimes indefinitely, to prevent tooth movement. Unfortunately, this means that even adults who were model patients as kids may find themselves needing braces again.
Are there any downsides to getting braces as an adult?
Although braces can be effective at any age, it can take longer for adults to get the same results. In addition, most insurance plans don't cover braces for patients over 18.