Having straighter teeth can make a significant difference in your smile and overall confidence. It can also be an expensive proposition from a time, comfort, and money perspective. About 1 million adults decide to get braces each year, along with countless children who have this dental tool help them to get straighter teeth.
Braces aren’t only for those who never wore braces and need some help with tooth alignment. Some adults discover that the work they had done on their teeth in their younger years wasn’t permanent, so they need this dental appliance once again. Alignments can shift naturally over the years, and the need to have a tooth pulled can also cause movement to happen. Some dentists will treat people into their 80s with this option.
Children and teens don’t need to wear braces for long because their teeth are still growing. Adults usually need 18-36 months with them to achieve the correction they want, and then a permanent retainer may be necessary to prevent them from shifting back into their previous position.
If you want to improve your smile, then these are the pros and cons of braces to review.
List of the Pros of Braces
1. It can help people proactively prevent issues with gum disease.
If you have a crowded mouth or teeth that overlap each other, then your risk of gum disease rises. You’ll also have a greater chance to lose teeth to decay or damage in this situation. If your dentist recommends braces, then you are taking your future health into consideration with this option. Your oral health is thought to link directly to the wellness of your cardiovascular system, which means you can improve your wellbeing by focusing on a happier smile.
2. You can improve your eating habits.
When you can avoid issues with gum disease or tooth decay, then you’re also stopping problems with chewing or swallowing. Although your body can adapt to changing circumstances, proper digestion starts by the way that you process items with your mouth. You can prevent additional issues down the line by focusing on your dental health today, even if braces are part of that conversation.
3. Several different options are available if you need braces.
Your dentist will help you to decide which option for braces will best meet your needs. Metal ones are made from high-grade stainless steel, then rubber bands are used to attach the wire. Ceramic braces perform the same work, but they match the color of your teeth better so that they are less noticeable. You can also choose a series of aligner templates to shift your teeth, although this choice isn’t effective for serious dental issues.
A new option involves self-ligating braces that use a sliding mechanism so that less pain occurs during the application.
4. There is no denying the effectiveness of the product.
The reason why dentists recommend the use of braces is because this product works. Orthodontic procedures have helped smiles improve for decades using this tool for countless patients. When you monitor them as instructed and maintain them correctly, then your teeth are going to straighten over time. Although ceramic braces and invisible aligners might not operate as quickly as metal braces, you’ll still see this advantage develop over time if you stick with the process.
5. Braces aren’t going to chip or crack.
Although there are times when a bracket will fall off of your braces or the wire snaps, you won’t find issues with chipping or cracking happening with this approach. When a repair issue does occur, the work is fast and affordable. All you need to do is book an appointment with your dentist if the braces don’t feel right so that you can receive the adjustment you need.
You can experience damage if you eat the foods that your dentist recommends avoiding. If you follow the correct maintenance plan, this advantage will occur for almost everyone.
6. You can choose from a variety of different colors.
If you decide to use the standard O-ring metal braces for your teeth, then you can choose from a variety of colors or patterns. Stainless steel braces are the most noticeable when you smile, but then adding different hues to them can really make the process more bearable. This advantage helps children adjust to the different lifestyle that the orthodontic treatment requires. It might not stop all of the teasing from their peers (an issue that happens with adults too), but the option to express one’s personality does help to embrace the treatment.
7. Braces are always working to improve your smile.
Because the brackets for your braces attach directly to your teeth, they are always in a position to work on alignment issues. This process helps to keep the jaw and mouth working together while individual teeth straighten to create that healthy smile. You cannot remove them once installed without the help of a dentist, which means there aren’t any issues about wearing the product for the correct amount of time.
You don’t need to worry about losing your braces either, which can be a problem for certain aligners and retainers.
List of the Cons of Braces
1. Braces are an expensive proposition.
Adults face a bill that typically reaches $5,000 or more before insurance covers some of the cost. Even when you can have a portion of that expense paid with your policy, the final bill might be 20% to 40% of the final expense. That’s why this option tends to be the choice of last resort, especially for families who live paycheck-to-paycheck. Unless there are problems with overlapping or crowded teeth, the use of braces might be considered cosmetic, limiting the number of insurance benefits that can apply.
If you choose ceramic braces over the metal ones, then you could spend up to $2,000 more to achieve a similar result.
2. You must avoid specific foods when wearing braces.
Your dentist will give you the exact list of foods that you shouldn’t touch when you start wearing braces. Hard items are usually the ones that are the most concerning, so that means you won’t be eating nuts or crunchy vegetables like carrots. You’re going to be asked to avoid sticky items like gum or taffy when the braces on your teeth. It tends to be a complete lifestyle change that you must embrace with this dental option, so you’ll want to consider your ability to adapt before reaching a final conclusion.
3. You will probably be stuck wearing a retainer.
Once your teeth shift into the desired position, that movement isn’t guaranteed to stay put. It is not unusual for people to see some additional tooth shifting happen after the braces get removed. Your dentist will likely recommend a retainer be worn during the evening hours or other specific times to ensure that your smile remains corrected and straight. This disadvantage applies to every form of braces that is on the market today, including the aligner templates from manufacturers like Invisalign®.
4. It can hurt to have braces put on your teeth.
Getting braces for the first time can be a painful experience since there are attachments that go directly on the front of each tooth. Tightening them with the metal wire places pressure on the teeth that can create soreness and discomfort over time. Some people discover that the metal brackets irritate their tongue and lips. The ends of the wire can sometimes protrude with this orthodontic procedure, which creates a feeling like your mouth is getting stabbed. Most of these issues can disappear in 3-6 weeks as you get used to the “new normal,” but it can also be an ongoing problem for a small percentage of people who get braces.
5. You will have a bigger chore when brushing and flossing your teeth.
The maintenance work required to keep metal braces clean is not easy for anyone at any age. Flossing is the worst part of this disadvantage since you need to thread the product around the wire so that you can get between the teeth. You can’t neglect this area of hygiene either because it will make your oral health worse, creating bad breath, gum irritation, and tooth decay if food particles get trapped in there without coming out.
6. It will be obvious that you’re wearing braces.
If you feel self-conscious about your appearance, then metal braces might not be the best option to choose from. When you smile or talk, then other people are going to notice them. Most people are understanding about this orthodontic procedure, but you can run into the occasional idiot who decides to make fun of you for needing them. The average person, both child and adult, knows why they are present and showing.
7. You must work with a reputable orthodontist to get results.
Metal braces can improve the appearance of your smile and your overall oral health when you work with an experienced orthodontist. You’ll want to have your progress routinely monitored to ensure the teeth alignment process progresses as expected. You can go in for your regular teeth cleaning appointments, but there also tends to be another one each quarter to ensure everything is working as it should be.
You’ll also have a higher risk of experiencing a dental emergency when wearing braces because there are more things that might go wrong. Make sure that your braces are carefully installed and properly maintained by seeking out a second opinion in your community.
8. Some products can take a long time to straighten your teeth.
If you choose ceramic braces instead of metal ones, then it might take up to 36 months for your teeth to reach the right smile. That’s still faster than the clear-alignment methods that can take 12 months to make minor corrections for a higher price than metal braces. You can’t use clear aligners for issues like malocclusion or misalignment, so your orthodontist is going to provide you with specific recommendations based on your oral health needs and personal preferences.
9. Gum sensitivity is common with some styles of braces.
If you choose to use ceramic braces, then the brackets needed for the product are larger than the ones for the stainless steel variety. That means it can be a lot harder to clean around each bracket, leading to swollen or receding gums. You must make sure that the toothbrush you use reaches your gum line and the enamel on your teeth every time you brush to avoid potential issues with this disadvantage.
Even when you take care of everything correctly, choosing ceramic over metal comes with a durability risk. The current ceramic braces are twice as likely to fracture or break than the metal ones.
10. Some braces can stain even with correct care.
The elastic ties that hold the wire to the brackets of your new braces can stain rather easily. Once this issue occurs, the only way to correct it is to remove them to have new ties in place. The colors of the rings used to secure the orthodontics to your teeth can also lose their luster, and you might even see your teeth starting to change colors over time if you’re struggling to have your toothbrush reach every part of the enamel. The need to repair broken brackets combines with this disadvantage to delay the straightening process since there are so many different maintenance tasks required.
Your dentist will let you know if braces could be a helpful tool that can improve your smile. If you have teeth that meet abnormally or have gaps, misplaced or blocked teeth, or a jaw that shifts or make sounds, then you might want to pursue this option. It might cost a little to address this situation today, but you might be saving yourself a lot of money in the future.
You might also have a hard time chewing your food or breathing through your nose. These issues aren’t always improved with orthodontic treatment, but your dentist can let you know if it is an option worth considering.
If you are weighing the pros and cons of braces today, then schedule an appointment with your dentist. Let them know what your concerns are with regards to your oral health. After an examination, you will receive recommended treatments to create that smile you’ve always wanted.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.