Is It Too Late to Have Braces as an Adult?

Braces in Reno and Sparks, NV

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Braces have long been thought of as a treatment one undergoes as a child—and with good reason. The average age for braces is around 11 or 12 since children’s jaws are malleable as they grow, stopping sometime in their early 20s. This means they respond well to the gradual alignment provided by braces.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t straighten your teeth if you missed that youthful window. In fact, more adults than ever are getting braces for reasons ranging from aesthetics to a more functional bite and healthier teeth in general. If you’ve been considering braces for adults, there are plenty of options available for the specific results and treatment you need—no matter your age!

Wearing Braces as an Adult

If you’re wondering “Can adults get braces?” the answer is that adults today have more options for the type of braces they want than potentially ever before! Because adults lead busy lives with different social, dietary, and medical obligations to consider, there are options for the kinds of straightening treatment to best fit your lifestyle—from traditional metal wires to invisible clear aligners.

However, each type has its specific benefits and drawbacks, and not every adult is a candidate for certain treatments. That’s why it’s important to meet with an orthodontic dentist to find the right treatment for you. The most common types of braces and teeth alignment systems include:

Conventional Braces

Everyone is familiar with traditional metal braces, and that’s because they are a tried and tested means of straightening anyone’s smile in a relatively short amount of time. Metal braces are comprised of individual brackets that are bonded to the teeth with dental cement and connected by a wire, which your orthodontist will tighten and manipulate to align your teeth over time.

Treatment usually takes between 12-24 months, but during that time you will need to adhere to strict cleaning and dietary considerations so as not to interfere with your braces or affect the health of your teeth. While not everyone appreciates the aesthetics of traditional braces, they are among the most reliable and cost-effective treatments available—for adults and children alike.


Aligners are a relatively new system that uses clear plastic retainers that shape your teeth while you wear them. Your orthodontist will take a digital scan of your teeth and develop the aligners in phases, which are changed out every few weeks or months. Aligners have the benefit of being mostly invisible to the naked eye and in photographs and can be removed at will. (In fact, they should be removed while eating and drinking.)

Many adults value aligners for their aesthetics, but they are typically significantly more costly than other treatments and are only effective as long as they are being worn. This means that if you forget to wear your aligners, your treatment could take longer or be less effective than semi-permanent options like traditional braces.

Lingual Braces

Lingual Braces are an ingenious hybrid of the two systems mentioned above. Some lingual braces use a traditional bracket and archwire but are simply fastened to the back of your teeth, or others may use a simple metal bar. (This is often used to make small adjustments to the front teeth instead of a full-mouth realignment.)

Lingual braces combine the extended pressure needed for fast alignment from traditional braces with the metal-free aesthetic of clear aligners. The result is a discreet, effective method for straightening teeth, but comes with the same cleaning and dietary requirements as metal braces. Some patients might also notice a slight impact on their speech, as the tongue usually makes contact with the back of the teeth while speaking, which lingual braces can inhibit.

Can You Make Braces Work Faster?

Many patients’ first question to their orthodontist is something like: How long do braces take to work? The answer is highly dependent on how much your teeth need to be aligned and which method of straightening you prefer, but a good ballpark estimate is usually 12-24 months.

While there’s really nothing you can do to speed up the process, patients who choose clear aligners or other removable systems must remember to wear them consistently, otherwise, their treatment could take considerably longer than estimated. Unfortunately, braces need time to perfect your smile gradually, so the best thing you can do is learn to live with them—the final result will be worth it!

It’s Never Too Late for Your Dream Smile

If you find yourself wondering, when is it too late to get braces, and how old do you have to be to get braces? Don’t worry, you can get your perfect smile at any time—and Elevated Orthodontics will be there every step of the way! If you live in Reno and are looking for an orthodontist in Reno feel free to stop by our another clinic located in South Reno. Our experienced team of orthodontic professionals is ready to help patients of every age find the right solution to their smile, taking into account everything from their budget, lifestyle, timeline for treatment, and desired results. When you’re ready to explore what Elevated Orthodontics can do for you, don’t hesitate to give us a call and schedule your first appointment.

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