Some adults never received orthodontic treatment as children to correct problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites and underbites, incorrect jaw position or jaw joint disorders. Left untreated, these problems may result in tooth decay, gum disease, headaches and earaches, as well as speaking, biting or chewing problems.
Braces are custom-made appliances that apply pressure to straighten your teeth and correct your bite. While some practitioners still favor metal braces as the most reliable, new materials and other technological advances have made smaller, less noticeable braces available. Instead of metal, you may choose to wear clear or tooth-colored ceramic braces or removable invisible aligners.
Braces can provide adults the same benefits children receive. However, treatment may take longer than it does for children. The average adult wears braces for 18 months to three years. As with children, adults may need to wear a retainer to maintain the results of treatment after braces are removed.
You probably will experience some discomfort or difficulty in speaking or eating when you first receive your braces. While wearing braces, keep your teeth and brackets clean.To reduce the risk of cavities, follow a regimen of brushing, flossing and rinsing, and reduce your consumption of sweets and carbohydrates. Good oral hygiene may also prevent decalcification (white spots) on teeth and tooth decay.
It's a good idea to skip foods that can damage or dislodge braces. Avoid hard foods such as candy, raw carrots, corn on the cob, pretzels, nuts, popcorn and crushed ice. Other foods to avoid include sticky foods such as caramel, taffy and gum. These foods can get stuck between teeth and gums or bend wires and knock bands or brackets loose. If this results in damage to braces, treatment may be extended.