If you’re curious about adult braces, you’re far from alone. Interest in teeth-straightening solutions has been surging, thanks most recently to the pandemic Zoom boom. Today, research suggests that more orthodontic patients are adults than ever!

There’s just one drawback: will you really have to get the chunky metal braces people were wearing when you were a kid?

Fortunately, braces for adults have come a long way, and even metal braces have gotten sleeker and less bulky than you’d expect. Even better, subtler options like lingual braces and clear aligners can provide effective straightening without being too noticeable. If you want to enhance the look and health of your smile, here’s a quick breakdown of your orthodontic choices.

Metal Braces

Metal braces have been the tried-and-true choice in orthodontia for decades. They’ve become less popular in recent years, thanks to the invisible look of clear aligners as an alternative, but they’re still a great option for straightening your teeth. These braces include a thin metal wire that connects brackets that sit on your teeth.

These options put teeth under high pressure and tension, which can be ideal for fast and efficient straightening. Because adults’ jaws are more rigid than the jaws of children, this higher pressure is necessary to reposition teeth. This can be crucial if you’re trying to correct large gaps or severe malocclusion (crooked teeth).

Even better, metal braces have likely come a long way since your childhood! With advanced techniques, modern metal braces don’t require you to have an elastic band on each tooth.

Keep in mind, however, that metal braces are probably the most noticeable option on this list. Because the metal stands out against the white of your teeth, it will be obvious that you’re wearing braces every time you smile.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces have a lot in common with metal braces. With this option, a thin metal wire sits over the surface of your teeth and connects multiple brackets.

However, where metal braces use metal brackets, ceramic braces use – you guessed it – ceramic! Clear or tooth-colored ceramic can appear far less visible against your teeth, which makes them less noticeable than traditional metal braces. With this “camouflaged” look, the only thing that’s immediately obvious is the metal wire across your teeth.

Ceramic braces are the ideal choice for adults who need a lot of pressure on their teeth for straightening but dislike the look of metal braces.

This option is more expensive than traditional braces. You’ll also have to take good care of them: ceramic can stain from food and drinks in the same way your teeth will. Maintaining good dental hygiene and staying away from things like coffee and red wine can help.

Lingual Braces

If you want traditional braces with less visibility, try lingual braces. These braces are the same as metal braces, but they’re set on the inside of the teeth. In other words, you’ll get all the strength and pressure of traditional braces, but no one will know you’re wearing them!

The invisibility is a perk, but keep in mind that lingual braces have a few disadvantages. Because they sit inside your teeth, they can be less comfortable than traditional braces, especially while you’re first getting used to them. Some patients complain of tongue sores from rubbing against the brackets.

In addition, you may have a slight learning curve when speaking with lingual braces. Your tongue touches the insides of your teeth to make certain sounds, and the braces interfere with that. Over time, your tongue will get used to the braces and its new speech positions.

Cleaning lingual braces can be a bit tricky. You’ll have to be careful with your dental hygiene while wearing them.

Last, lingual braces are often more expensive than other types of braces. They require a skilled orthodontist and may take a while to fit into place during treatment.

Self-Ligating Braces

Self-ligating braces are a lot like metal braces. They’ll include the same brackets, though these brackets can be clear and smaller in size to make them less noticeable. Instead of using elastic bands to connect to the wire, however, the brackets clip on.

The result is the same effective straightening of metal braces without so much friction. Your dentist can adjust the ligatures without removing them during your adjustment appointments, making check-ups a breeze. If you’re sensitive to discomfort but want traditional braces, try self-ligating options instead.

Self-ligating braces are often more expensive than the other types of braces on this list.

Clear Aligners

As some of the most popular adult braces around today, clear aligners are just what they sound like. These options look like clear plastic trays in the shape of your teeth.

One of the biggest benefits of clear aligners is that they’re removable. Most patients love the convenience of taking their aligners out when eating or brushing their teeth, though you will need to wear them for the majority of the day. As a result, you also won’t have to avoid certain sticky or chewy foods like you would with traditional braces!

Another huge benefit is their look. Clear aligners are almost invisible, meaning it’s hard to tell when you’re wearing them even from a short distance away. This can keep patients from feeling self-conscious about their smile during the months when they’re wearing braces.

Clear aligners are efficient and fast, but they may not address serious straightening issues and won’t work for patients with severe malocclusion. You’ll also need to come in for more orthodontic check-ups than you would with traditional braces.

Ask About Braces for Adults

If you’ve been considering braces for adults, consider this your sign to take the plunge! With so many different options available, every patient can find the perfect solution for their smile.

When you’re ready to boost your appearance and your dental health with braces, we hope you’ll trust the team at Parrott Orthodontics. We’re passionate about creating straight, well-aligned smiles for patients of all ages, and our skilled orthodontists offer a range of treatment options. To learn more, schedule your first appointment today!