three women taking selfie with smartphone
Photo: Ketut Subiyanto

It’s uncommon for people to reach adulthood with severely crooked teeth, but it can happen for a myriad of reasons. A lack of dental visits due to childhood fear, for example, can cause this. You might be wondering, though, that once we reach adulthood without having the treatment to straighten our teeth, can we still benefit from the same treatments that children do to rectify these problems? 

After all, it is a rarity to see an adult with metal braces or a retainer. Luckily, the answer is, in fact, yes. All of the teeth straightening treatments that children can have can be used for adults, but it might take longer to see results because our bones are more solid, and teeth become slightly less pliable, but these treatments are still effective. Here are some of how a crooked smile can be treated in adulthood.

Metal Braces

The first option, and usually the most affordable option, is to use metal braces. These are the classic aesthetic of a metal track being affixed to the front of the teeth. The intended use of these is to, over time, bring the teeth into alignment with each other by applying a small amount of pressure to those teeth which are out of line. The shape of the jaw and the alignment of the individual teeth will be slowly changed during this process, and it can take a significant amount of time to have an effect. 

Of course, many people don’t enjoy the idea of wearing braces as they aren’t overly subtle, even those that are perhaps transparent. This can lead to mental health problems due to low self-esteem while wearing these, especially if you’re concerned about your appearance for both relationships and your professional life.

Clear Aligners

Luckily there are alternatives to metal braces, and the best option to minimize the psychological impact is to wear clear braces or aligners. There essentially function as a thin yet robust cover that is fitted over your teeth. This cover is molded to match your teeth, but if they are aligned properly. There are many benefits to choosing aligners vs. braces, and the most notable of these is their subtlety. They are much harder to see and cause very few problems with speech. 

They can also be removed easily for eating and to clean them and your teeth properly, which you cannot do with metal braces. Instead, with braces, you need to be much more careful with what you eat, and therefore this can significantly impact your quality of life, especially due to how long you might have to wear them.

Unlike braces, clear aligner treatments are available through remote retailers. With at-home clear aligner companies, you’ll start treatment by purchasing and completing an at-home impression kit. Once you mail your molds back to your provider, they can build you a customized treatment plan. With less overhead, remote companies can typically offer treatments at a lower price point than in-office options.

Without frequent in-person appointments, at-home clear aligner treatments are a convenient option for busy adults. For those looking for even more flexibility, many remote providers offer nighttime-only treatments, which require just 8–10 hours of daily wear instead of the typical 20-22 hours.

Porcelain Veneers

An option for people with only slightly or moderately misaligned teeth is to actually have those teeth covered by permanent, porcelain veneers. This is an aesthetic treatment for many different reasons and can be used to cover things like excessively stained and worn teeth. But veneers can also be used to rectify certain dental health problems, such as painful, sensitive teeth that have lost their enamel or teeth that have been damaged in an accident. 

When fixing a crooked smile using veneers, the patient’s real teeth will first be reshaped, and then the porcelain veneers will be affixed over the top. They are usually very life-like and can rarely be told apart from your real teeth, as they’ll also be designed with the appearance of your own teeth in mind.

Lots of love,