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How Are Braces for Adults Different?

Most children are fitted with traditional metal braces.
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  • Written By: Christine Hudson
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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More adults are choosing to wear braces to fix dental issues that have bothered them throughout their lives. While it is becoming more common, there are still key differences between braces for adults and braces for children. The most notable differences between braces for adults and those for children are the materials to choose from, the price, and the length of time they must be worn.

To begin with, adults wearing braces can choose between different materials. Usually, adults know how to care for their teeth, and are therefore offered more choices whereas children tend to wear the traditional stainless steel metal braces attached to the front of the teeth. Besides metal braces, there are ceramic and lingual braces, and plastic straightening appliances.

Ceramic braces blend with the color of the teeth. They are worn on the front of the teeth like traditional metal braces, but are more apt to break than metal braces. Lingual braces have the metal brackets on the back of the teeth so they are not visible. They can create problems with the tongue while talking and are very expensive.

Clear removable plastic appliances tend to be used for minor corrections. These appliances are replaced every two weeks and are only removed for eating, brushing, and flossing. Versions are available for both adults and teens, and while the aligners themselves are basically the same, the teen version may have more features to make progress easier to track.

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Braces for adults tend to be worn longer than children's braces because the adult's teeth are more rigid and take longer to correct. On average, adults wear braces between 18 months and three years, although the length of time can vary depending on the amount of correction needed. The longer time allows the teeth to be moved more slowly, and for the muscles and bones to heal.

Adults have more out-of-pocket expenses associated with braces than children do. While the cost of braces doesn't vary between adult and child, insurance coverage does. Insurance plans tend not to provide coverage for adults wearing braces or offer much less coverage than they would for child braces.

Wearing braces for adults is not without its risks. If the adult has plaque or gum disease, braces can aggravate the condition. Also, adult teeth are not as flexible as children's teeth so the braces could apply pressure and be painful to wear. Many adults report that wearing braces makes their teeth feel loose, but this normally goes away once the process is complete.

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