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Adult Braces: A Reason to Smile

The mentioning of orthodontic braces usually conjures up images of awkward pre-teens with stainless steel smiles. Fortunately, orthodontic technology has made great strides over the past few decades. Nowadays, many adults are choosing discreet options to straighten their teeth and improve oral health.
Why are adults wearing braces?

Generally speaking, people visit orthodontists as adults because their families could not afford orthodontics when they were children, or because their oral problems just recently developed. For instance, some adults suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a painful condition that can result from a misaligned bite. In any case, since modern orthodontic braces are more comfortable and more stylish than their forerunners, adults are viewing them as viable options to help improve their lives.

One obvious advantage of orthodontics is an improved smile and, in many cases, improved self-confidence. Another advantage is improved oral health, because straight teeth are easier to clean: those that overlap create homes for bacteria that cause bad breath, gingivitis or gum disease, and cavities. Aligned teeth are also less likely to be chipped or to suffer from uneven wear.

What options are available?

Classic straighteners were made of stainless steel and nickel titanium brackets that were cemented to the teeth. They pulled on teeth with the force of rubber bands. Contemporary options are available in metal or tooth-colored ceramic. In both cases, orthodontists may connect the brackets with wires instead of rubber bands. Since the wires maintain their hold better than rubber bands do, wires may have therapeutic benefits. However, rubber bands are still commonly used. For reasons of discreetness, clear rubber bands can be used with ceramic devices.

Many adults prefer to have their braces attached to the backs of teeth. These “lingual braces” stay hidden from view. However, they may be difficult to adjust, so visits to the orthodontist might last longer than usual. Lingual straighteners might also restrict tongue movement.

When the braces are removed, patients wear retainers to help maintain their new smiles. Retainers may be discreetly cemented to the teeth or only worn at night.

Caring for Braces

It’s important to carefully brush and floss braces to keep teeth and gums healthy. Patients should avoid eating foods that could loosen or break the wires or brackets. For instance, uncut apples, nuts, and hard candy have been known to cause damage. Gum is generally off-limits, although a few brands are designed for orthodontic bubble-blowers.

Author is a freelance writer. For more information on Virginia Beach bracesplease visit