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When are you too old for braces?

Braces are more common than ever. It's hard to find a teenager that hasn't been to an orthodontist at some point in their life. Nowadays, most people will have corrected their crowded or poorly aligned teeth before graduating from high school.

When I was in school, however, you needed a pretty messed up mouth in order to get braces. Many people, such as myself, have lived with slightly crooked teeth for most of their adult lives. With so much emphasis being placed on physical appearance, many adults are now opting for braces. That leaves the question:

When are you too old for braces?

Ideally speaking, crooked teeth and offset bites are best corrected during the growing years of a child. Why? It's simple. As a child is still growing taller, the bones in their mouth are also shifting. It's easier to adjust the bite of a person when their bones are not yet set in place. This is why most braces can be found in young mouths.

Does that mean you can't get braces as an adult?

Of course not.

Even though your teeth are firmly planted in your jaw bone after you finish growing, it is still possible to move them. It just takes a little more effort. Most adults can expect an orthodontic treatment that lasts at least two years or longer.

Braces move the teeth by gradually shifting them out of place. With traditional braces, metal wires are attached to brackets that put pressure on certain teeth. This pressure eventually moves a tooth to a new location. The bone around the tooth dissolves, but it reforms once the tooth is set in its proper position. A retainer is used after treatment to ensure that the teeth don't travel back to their old location when the braces are removed.

These days, adults have more options when it comes to braces. You can choose the traditional metal look, or you can opt for tooth-colored ceramic brackets. There are even invisible, clear plastic braces that are virtually undetectable in the mouth.

So, if you've been living your life embarrassed by your not-so-perfect smile, remember that it's not too late. Schedule an appointment with a local orthodontist to see which route they suggest you take.