Straight Talk About Braces for Adults
Questions to Ask Your Orthodontist
You're going to see him a lot over the course of your treatment, so find someone you're comfortable with.
Here are few things to find out at your first visit:
- What options will work for my teeth?
- How long will I wear them?
- How do I take care of my teeth while they're on?
- How often will I need to come in for an office visit?
- How much will they cost?
- Does your office offer payment plans?
- Do you accept my insurance?
- What happens after I get them off?
Lining Up Your Options
There's more than one path to straight teeth. The type of treatment you choose depends on how your teeth need to move to streamline your smile.
Regular braces: These use gentle pressure to move your teeth into place over time. Your orthodontist will glue brackets to the front of your teeth and connect them with a wire. He'll tighten that wire every 4 to 6 weeks. This slowly moves your teeth or jaw or both into place.
It depends on your treatment, but the average adult has braces for 18 months to 3 years. It usually costs between $5,000 and $6,000.
Other braces: If having a metal smile bothers you, ceramic braces are another option. The brackets are the color of your teeth, which makes them harder to see. They usually cost more than their metal cousins.
Ask about getting braces on the back of your teeth instead of the front to hide the metal brackets.
Clear aligners: You can skip the wires and brackets with these see-through plastic trays that fit over your teeth. You can take them out to eat, brush, and floss. The downside: They're not stuck to your teeth, and they're easy to lose.
They're really meant to shift teeth around, Wadhwa says. If you need to close a big gap between teeth, metal braces are the better choice.
Veneers: These thin, tooth-colored layers of porcelain go on top of your existing choppers. They're a way to fix small, chipped, dull, or stained teeth.
"Veneers are the quick way to make your smile look better without moving your teeth," Wadhwa says. But they also may come at a cost. In some instances, your dentist may shave off part of your original tooth before he puts them on.