Am I Too Old for Clear Aligners?

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on March 01, 2024
4 min read

Your teeth are one of the first things people notice about you. They say so much about you without you saying a word. How your teeth appear can give away things like your dental hygiene, eating habits, and whether you smoke. 

In a perfect world, we would all have dazzling, effortless Hollywood smiles. But many people struggle with crooked teeth throughout their lives and want to get them corrected as an adult. 

There’s great news for people who want to get their teeth straightened. It’s never too late. 

Crooked teeth can be about more than having a smile you want to correct -- they can actually be damaging to your health. A lopsided bite can make teeth hard to clean and can cause cavities, tartar buildup, and gum disease. If your teeth don’t line up when you close your jaw, which is called malocclusion, it can cause problems with the way you chew your food, and even the way your food is digested. 

Getting your teeth aligned as an adult isn’t much different than having them aligned as a teenager. In fact, one orthodontic patient out of three is an adult. 

The main difference between teenage and adult patients is that adults have greater bone density, and their bones and teeth are more mature. But clear aligners can work for you even if you’re an adult. Your teeth will move when there is constant pressure placed on them. 

Adults can have more pre-existing dental issues than children and teens, including missing teeth, misshapen teeth, receding gum lines, and more. The process of realigning your teeth might take longer than it would if you were a teenager, but you will get there.

It’s common for your orthodontist to work with your dentist to create a treatment plan that’s tailored to you. The average time it will take to straighten your smile with clear aligners is 22 months. That time can vary based on how crooked your teeth are now, and other dental conditions you may have.

Generally, orthodontists will recommend you wear the aligners for 22 hours each day. You should wear them anytime you’re not eating or brushing your teeth. If you’re not wearing them, they can't fix your smile.  

You’ll need to change the aligners about every 2 weeks in order for them to do their job properly.  

Wearing aligners might make you feel like an awkward teenager again. You may feel embarrassed or shy about having to wear clear aligners. It's important to keep your goal of a straight, clean smile in mind when you wear them. 

Tooth alignment is something you’re doing to help your future self, and when it’s all over, think of how proud you’ll be of your new smile. 

Clear aligners are only one type of dental tool on the market that helps set your teeth straight. It's important to know which teeth realigning tool is best for you. Check out some pros and cons of clear aligners to help you decide if it fits your lifestyle:  


  • Dental hygiene. Because clear aligners are removable, you can floss, brush, and clean hard-to-reach places in your teeth easier than if you had braces.
  • Subtle treatment option. Clear aligners are transparent. They’re not as noticeable as other orthodontic treatments like metal braces, making them a popular alternative for adults.
  • Few to no food restrictions. Unlike traditional braces, you can remove clear aligners before you eat. So unless your orthodontist has advised you otherwise, feel free to chomp down on your favorite foods. 


  • Clear aligners might not work for everyone. There are lots of options for straightening your teeth. Talk with your orthodontist and make sure clear aligners will benefit your needs the most. ‌
  • You might need to adjust your eating habits. You’ll need to wear the aligners for about 22 hours each day and take them off before you eat. This can be hard if you like to eat snacks throughout the day. You’ll need to stick to specified mealtimes when using aligners so they work properly for most of the day.‌
  • Self-discipline. Your success with aligners hinges on how dedicated you are. If you don’t wear them for the recommended amount of time each day, you might get sore gums and teeth. You also might fall off track with the straightening process.

Clear aligners can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $8,500, depending on your needs and the type you choose.