Am I too old for braces or clear aligners?

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Naturally, the sooner in life you start your orthodontic treatment, the easier it is to treat your condition. This is why orthodontists recommend that you have your orthodontic condition evaluated by age 6 or 7. Early assessment allows for interceptive orthodontic treatment, also referred to as Phase one. Most patients end up starting their orthodontic treatment during their teenage years. So the question is, can adults, or even seniors, still qualify for orthodontic treatment? And when exactly are you simply too old to wear braces or clear aligners? Let’s find out:

What is the best age to start orthodontic treatment?


The best time to start orthodontic treatment is in your teen years, between the age of 11 and 16. Orthodontists usually recommend you start comprehensive orthodontic treatment, also referred to as phase two, once all of your adult teeth have fully erupted. This usually occurs around age 11 for girls and 12 for boys. It’s best to finish your orthodontic treatment by age 17 because that’s when your facial bones finish fusing, which makes it more difficult to move your teeth around.

Is there an age cutoff for receiving orthodontic treatment?


Luckily, age is not a limit factor when it comes to receiving orthodontic treatment, both with braces and clear aligners. Whether you’re in your forties, fifties, or sixties, you can still qualify for orthodontic treatment so long as your teeth and gums are healthy enough to support braces or aligners. It also doesn’t matter if it’s your first time getting ortho work or if you’re planning on straightening your teeth a 2nd time (or even 3rd!). In fact, there are plenty of benefits to receiving orthodontic treatment as an adult if you need it, for example:

  • Adults are better at keeping their appointments, which makes it easier to complete their orthodontic treatment on time
  • Adults are better at following their dentist or orthodontist’s instructions, therefore they get better end results
  • Since adults are better at understanding the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene, they end up with fewer complications during their ortho program

You’re never too old to improve your oral health, straighten your smile and enhance your beauty! Don’t let age be a deciding factor in whether or not you fix your smile with braces or clear aligners.

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment for adults?


There are plenty of benefits to straightening your teeth, regardless of whether you do it using clear aligners or braces. Here are some benefits of orthodontic treatment for adults:

Enhance your smile and improve your appearance

There are no questions that having a straight smile is an important part of your overall appearance. After all, your smile is the first thing that others notice about you. Straightening your smile improves your appearance, increases your self-confidence and makes you feel better about yourself and your appearance.

Reduce the risk of cavities

Patients with crooked teeth are far more likely to develop cavities between their teeth. This is because it’s much more difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene when your teeth are crooked or when you have gaps in between your teeth. Straightening your smile can help reduce your chances of developing new and recurrent cavities, regardless of how old you are.

Improve your gum health

It’s also much more difficult to maintain healthy gums when you have crooked or gap teeth. Crooked and gap teeth cause more plaque to accumulate on your teeth as compared to straight teeth. If you can’t remove this plaque from your teeth, it calcifies and becomes tartar. Tartar harbors bacteria which cause your gums to bleed and become infected. Eventually, you may develop gum disease. Straightening your teeth makes it much easier to maintain adequate oral hygiene, regardless of your age. Having straight teeth improves your gum health and often times reduces, or even eliminates, gum disease (along with maintaining proper dental cleanings).

Improve your bite relationship

Having a poor bite relationship is when your teeth don’t touch the way they’re supposed to. A poor bite makes it more difficult to chew food. It also causes your teeth and dental restorations, fillings and crowns, to chip and break more frequently. Finally, having a poor bite relationship can lead to migraine headaches, tension, and other head and neck-related pains. Improving your bite relationship with braces or clear aligners helps reduce these complications.

Is it better to go with clear aligners or braces for adults?


You may be given the option to wear either clear aligners or braces. Most adults prefer clear aligners over braces when given a choice. Clear aligners have several benefits over braces, especially for adults, which are:

  • Clear aligners are much more comfortable and less painful than braces
  • You can remove clear aligners to eat or clean your teeth whereas braces are permanently stuck to your teeth
  • Clear aligners are barely visible inside your mouth which makes them much less noticeable than braces
  • Clear aligner plastic is less likely to cut or bruise your mouth as compared to the wires and brackets used for braces
  • There’s no metal in clear aligners which makes them a better option for people with metal allergies or those seeking holistic care

Your dentist or orthodontist will discuss clear aligners or braces to help you decide between the two. Keep in mind, the most difficult ortho cases always require braces, and they can not be treated with clear aligners like Invisalign® or Smile Direct Club™.

How long does adult orthodontic treatment take?

Adult orthodontic treatment takes a bit longer than treatment for teenagers. This is primarily due to the stiffening of your jawbones which makes it more difficult to move your teeth around. Simpler cases, and those of you who already had braces before, usually require 6 to 18 months of Inivisalign® or braces treatment. More complicated cases usually take 2 years or longer. Schedule a consultation with your local dentist or orthodontist to have your teeth evaluated and determine exactly how long your treatment is going to take.

What are things I should consider when receiving orthodontic treatment as an adult?


If you excellent teeth and gums, then you really have nothing to worry about. You’re most likely a great candidate for orthodontic treatment and you can get started right away. However, those of us who have had other their fair share of dental work in the past, have a few things to consider before starting orthodontic treatment. Here are a few things you should be aware of prior to starting your clear aligner or braces treatment:

You must have healthy gums before starting orthodontic treatment

Having healthy gums is the most important prerequisite to starting orthodontic treatment. Chances are you will require a thorough dental cleaning before starting your clear aligner or braces treatment. If you suffer from gingivitis, you need to get your gum disease under control first and foremost. Those who suffer from advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, must postpone all orthodontic treatments until their gum disease is under control. Those suffering from the most advanced stages of gum disease will not qualify for orthodontic treatment. This is because it’s simply too dangerous to move your teeth around if you already have extensive bone loss as a result of advanced gum disease.

You should not have any major underlying dental problems

There are a few dental procedures that have an impact on your orthodontic treatment. For example, if you already have porcelain veneers on your front teeth, there’s a chance you may have to redo your veneers after completing orthodontic treatment. Or if you have dental implants then you need to discuss them with your treating dentist or orthodontist to make sure they avoid putting any force on your dental implants. The same goes for fillings, crowns, and bridges, which may be impacted as a result of your orthodontic treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist will evaluate your mouth and review these things with you prior to starting any type of orthodontic treatment.

Have plans to fix the rest of your mouth afterward

It’s no surprise that the older we get, the more dental problems we start to have. Cavities, crowns, dental implants, and missing teeth can complicate your orthodontic treatment. It’s important to have a long-term plan to fix these dental conditions. Typically, it’s best to straighten your teeth first and them fix your remaining dental problems. Just be sure not to forget about fixing the rest of your mouth, otherwise, your bite may collapse soon afterward and you’ll be back to where you started within a few months or years!

Long-term retention plan

As you’d imagine, it’s not uncommon for teenagers not to follow rules and forget to wear their retainers. This usually means that they end up having to redo their orthodontic treatment as an adult. Surely, you don’t want to have to redo your orthodontic treatment if you already are an adult! This means that you need to have a plan to wear your orthodontic retainers and keep your teeth in their correct position. Be sure to wear your retainers as per your dentist or orthodontist’s recommendation. Consider placing a fixed retainer on your teeth if you’re the type that forest to wear his or her retainers. Talk to your dentist or orthodontist to come up with a plan to keep your smile straight and make sure to follow their instructions.

What if I already had orthodontic treatment and require a simple touch-up?

There is good news for those of you who are considering redoing their orthodontic treatment: it’s usually much easier to move your teeth if you’ve already had braces or clear aligners in the past. You’re also much more likely to qualify for clear aligner therapy over braces if this is your second-time doing orthodontic treatment. Finally, you’re expected treatment time shouldn’t be much shorter the second time around. Most orthodontic relapse cases can be treated within a few months, as compared to years.

Ready to get started with your new smile? As you can see, you’re never too old to improve your smile! Find a dentist or orthodontist near you to fix with your smile today. If you’re interested in learning more about straightening your smile with clear aligners, find a dentist near you to get started today:



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