Adult Teeth Straightening: All Your Options

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Most people associate braces with awkward teenage years, but a growing number of adults are finding themselves needing corrective orthodontics. It can happen to anyone, even if you take good care of your teeth or have had braces in the past. Teeth sometimes shift naturally over time – and grinding your teeth can actually exacerbate this shifting, which is a common reaction that many adults have to stress.

Most adults would balk at the idea of having to get braces later in life – after all, who wants to walk into a business meeting or into a bar with a mouth full of metal? Luckily, orthodontic advancements over the past decade have led to many different options for corrective orthodontics beyond just traditional braces that many teens wear.

If your dentist has told you that you now need braces, or even if you just want to learn more about your options, check out our list below. For more information or to schedule a consultation, visit our website. We can help you identify which option is best for you.

Traditional Braces

These are what you picture when you think “braces” – they’re what most teenagers get. They are composed of wires and brackets on the outside of the teeth and move your teeth in to the correct position. They’re the most visible of all your options, and the one you would be least excited about.

The upside to traditional braces is that they typically work faster, can tackle more severe orthodontic problems, and are less expensive than other types of braces – particularly invisible aligners. However, some adults prefer to start their treatment with a short course of traditional braces and then move over to another, less noticeable option once the heavy lifting is done.

Ceramic Braces

You might be looking for lower cost and quicker treatment times that traditional braces offer. Or if your orthodontist says that your condition is too severe for other options, but you want to keep your teeth discrete, then ceramic might be right for you.

They are just like traditional braces, with wires and brackets, but they are much less noticeable because the ligatures and brackets are either tooth-coloured or clear. The wires are still metal and will be visible, but they’ll attract less attention and are harder to notice.

However, it is important to note that the ligatures can stain from certain foods like coffee, tea, or curry, so most patients simply choose to avoid them while wearing ceramic braces. 

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces – also colloquially known as “adult braces” are similar to traditional braces but are affixed to the backs of teeth. Like traditional braces, lingual braces have wires and brackets, but they are almost impossible to see.

With the wires and brackets being right up against the tongue, lingual braces can be more uncomfortable than other types of braces, can be harder to keep clean, and can have a bigger impact on speech. They also tend to be a little more expensive than traditional braces, but they can be a more cost-effective option than invisible aligners.

Jaw Expanders

If you had braces before – or if your kid has them now – you might have heard of expanders. They can be used on the upper or lower jaw, and when coupled with other types of braces, they can improve the results and shorten treatment times. Sometimes, depending on the condition of your teeth, your orthodontist may recommend expanders first, and then after your teeth have moved.

Jaw expanders work by gradually widening either jaw, which can help reduce teeth crowding so braces can work more effectively. They can also offer other cosmetic benefits like a wider smile, more defined chin, fuller lips, and defined cheekbones. 


By now, everyone has probably heard of Invisalign. If you’re not familiar, it’s the leading brand name in invisible aligners, which are one of the most popular – and lest noticeable – forms of braces. They come as a series of clear mouthpieces that gradually shift the teeth over time and can be removed for eating or to clean. They are virtually invisible and have very little impact on speech, so no one will know you are wearing them.

The two biggest disadvantages to Invisalign are the cost – it is currently the most expensive form of braces, and the duration of treatment is longer than other types of braces. In cases where there is a lot of orthodontic work that needs to be done, patients start with traditional or ceramic braces and transition to Invisalign later on.

Invisalign VS Other Brands

Few people know that Invisalign is just a brand name – and that there are other options out there for invisible aligners. They all work pretty much the same: the company sends you a kit and you make impressions of your teeth. You send the impressions back and receive a series of clear mouthpieces that gradually shift your teeth usually with a new one every few weeks.

As with all things, certain kits work better than others, so you should do some research and maybe even ask your orthodontists opinion before choosing one. 

Invisalign differs in that the impressions are usually done in an orthodontist’s offices, whereas the other kits can be done at home. Some people like this flexibility and cost savings, while others prefer the quality assurance that comes with having a professional make the dental impressions – if you don’t make them right, your aligners can actually make your teeth worse.

What many don’t realize is that you can often take your at-home kit into an orthodontist and they can make the mold for you like they would with Invisalign. Then you can continue on with the kit as directed, which can be a huge cost saver. Just make sure to double check with your orthodontist that they are willing to do that beforehand. Contact our NW Calgary dental clinic today.

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