Updated: Sep 14, 2020
We get it—no adult wants to look like a goofy kid in junior high with a mouth full of braces. The good news? You have much better options than your parents’ or grandparents’ generations ever did. Thanks to advances in technology and the improvement in skill and technique from orthodontists, there are multiple, equally-effective alternatives to braces for adults. Keep reading to learn more.
Your First Option: Metal Braces
The fact is, many adults still get metal braces (hard to believe?). Despite the breakthroughs with products like Invisalign, metal braces for adults aren’t going extinct anytime soon! Metal braces are here to stay because they are very strong and can withstand most types of treatment. Plus, today’s metal braces are smaller, sleeker, and more polished than ever before.
As our culture has become more inclusive, the stigma surrounding metal braces today just isn’t as extreme as it was twenty years ago…
Celebrities of all ages are getting braces and many proudly showing them off. Metal braces aren’t just something the “goofy” kids in junior high were wearing
Benefits of Metal Braces for Adults
Durable and strong
Tried and tested
Many adults actually like the look of metal braces
They may be the most affordable option
Potential Drawback to Metal Braces for Adults
Oral hygiene is more difficult compared to Invisalign
Hard, crunchy, and sticky foods need to be avoided
Minor discomfort to the cheeks during the first week is not unusual
They are noticeable… which for some adults is a benefit!
Remember, getting braces–no matter your age–is a sign to the world that you’re taking care of your oral hygiene and trying to improve your overall health. There is nothing more generally accepted and in vogue than that in today’s culture.
Alternatives to Braces For Adults: Option 1 - Clear Braces
If you’d rather not have the metal braces look, that’s okay too. We have lots of options and alternatives to metal braces. The first option is clear or ceramic braces.
Ceramic braces are a great alternative to traditional metal braces. They are second strongest to metal and generally do not stain. They are popular among adults because they “blend in” well with the teeth and are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces.
Multiple celebrities and high-profile people (even royalty) have been spotted on the red carpet with clear braces including…
Serena and Venus Williams
…just to name a few!
Both Prince Harry and Faith Hill Had Clear Braces
Actual patients treated with clear braces at Premier Orthodontics
Benefits of Clear Braces for Adults
Guaranteed to work because you can’t “take them off” and abandon the recommended routine.
Tried and tested
Great for adults who want something discreet and natural to their teeth color.
No changes to speech (like clear aligners)
No staining to worry about (when you choose clear self-ligating brackets)
Potential Drawback to Clear Braces for Adults
More time-consuming brushing and flossing
Some dietary changes are required (no hard and crunchy foods)
Minor discomfort to your cheeks when first starting
Alternatives to Braces For Adults: Option 2 - Invisalign
Invisalign is one of the most popular products on the market for adults looking to straighten their teeth. For many adults it’s the best option on the market. It’s probably the one you’ve heard most about from family members or friends. Invisalign has many features that have helped make it such a popular choice amongst adults… …including removable aligners. That means no changes whatsoever to your diet. Plus, you can brush and floss your teeth like normal.
There are no metal brackets or wires to deal with. Office visits for adjustments throughout the treatment process are fast, easy and painless.
Justin Beiber wearing Invisalign aligners
Over six million patients have been treated with Invisalign, and over four million of them were adults!
Actual Adult Patients of Premier Orthodontics Treated With Invisalign
Benefits of Invisalign for Adults
Easy removal for brushing and flossing
No dietary changes required
Less discomfort or emergency visits compared to braces
Fewer office visits and shorter appointments compared to braces
Potential Drawbacks to Invisalign for Adults
You have to wear them! (If the aligners are not worn consistently your teeth won’t straighten)
They may affect your speech a bit during the first week
May not be ideal for adults who are forgetful (or with hectic and unpredictable daily schedules)
Invisalign may not be the most ideal solution for every patient. Remember, most popular doesn’t always mean it’s the right choice for you. You won’t know for sure until you get an initial consultation with an orthodontist.
Alternatives to Braces for Adults - What About Porcelain Veneers?
You may have heard about porcelain veneers as an alternative to braces for adults. For instance, some adults have asked, “Why would I get braces for two years if I can just get veneers?” Before we get into the discussion of braces and veneers, let’s define what porcelain veneers are. WebMD says dental veneers are “wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length”
Porcelain veneers are meant solely for cosmetic purposes. They make the front teeth look better, sure, but they will not fix functional problems. So why use them at all? They are typically used by those who already have relatively straight teeth and a good bite, but want to improve the cosmetic appearance of the teeth even more. Veneers are designed to fix the following general dental problems…
Worn down teeth
Teeth that are cracked or chipping
Teeth that are "odd-shaped"
Teeth that are too narrow
…and in some cases they are a good option for correcting minor alignment and spacing issues.
Veneers are a great option for correcting cosmetic dental problems including the size, shape, and color of the teeth.
Getting dental veneers usually requires several trips to your family or cosmetic dentist. These trips include:
Diagnosing and planning - a 3D scan of your teeth or impressions are usually taken
Preparing the teeth for veneers - this usually involves removing about 1 mm of the tooth enamel from the front of the teeth
Bonding the veneers - The veneer is permanently bonded to your teeth
Braces vs Porcelain Veneers
If one is considering porcelain veneers or braces, it would be good to visit an orthodontist to learn which option would work best. Depending on your tooth or bite problem, veneers may not be the best, or healthiest, solution. If it is believed that braces (or Invisalign) and veneers are needed, then cosmetic dentists and orthodontists often will work together to give the patient the most stable and healthy bite—plus those cosmetic benefits they’re often looking for.
Benefits of Veneers for Adults
Can fix tooth discoloration, size, and shape
Completed in a matter of weeks
Can help repair chipped or broken teeth
Potential Drawback of Veneers for Adults
Cannot correct severe tooth or bite problems
Cosmetic solution only-does not not help with clenching, grinding, or bite stability
Usually require several replacements throughout your lifetime
Required removal of enamel from the surface of the teeth
The number-one question you should consider (and your orthodontist or cosmetic dentist should consider too) when looking for an alternative to braces for adults is this: what is absolutely best for me, an adult? Now that you understand more about your treatment options, let’s answer the question that may adults ask, “How do I choose the best orthodontist for an adult?”.