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How Old Is Too Old For Braces? Rediscover Your Smile At Any Age

Regardless of your age, you are never too old for orthodontic treatment. Age is rarely a deciding factor for orthodontic treatment. While your orthodontist will consider many variables when developing your customized treatment plan, it can be as successful for adults as it is for adolescents. In fact, one in three orthodontic patients is an adult, proving that you don’t have to let your age keep you from the smile you’ve always wanted.

Age and Tooth Movement: Is There an Impact?

Whether you’re 8 or 80, the physiological process that moves teeth through bone remains the same. Teeth move in response to forces being placed on them over time, regardless of how old you are. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected as easily for adults as for children and teens. While you may not be an adolescent anymore, your teeth can still be moved and adjusted to create a beautiful smile and a healthy bite.

How is Adult Treatment Different from Child Orthodontics?

The biggest difference in orthodontics for adults vs. children/teens is that adults are no longer growing. While this won’t impact the success of orthodontics, adult treatment may take slightly longer than that of a child with a similar problem, due to the maturity and density of adult bone tissue.

Additional factors your orthodontist will consider when determining the optimal treatment include the presence of fillings, missing teeth, misshapen or worn teeth, or dental diseases. Some medications and habits, like smoking, clenching or grinding teeth, or tongue thrusting, can affect the outcome of treatment. It’s common for orthodontists to work with a child’s family dentist to coordinate care, and the same applies to adult orthodontics. For some adults to reach optimal dental health, the dentist and orthodontist may need to call in other dental specialists such as oral surgeons, periodontists, and endodontists.

How Does the Adult Treatment Process Work?

To move your teeth to their ideal positions, your orthodontist will use an “appliance” to deliver controlled forces that gently and predictably reposition teeth. The most common appliances used in adult orthodontics are braces and clear aligners.

For those worried about aesthetics, advances in orthodontics have made treatment more comfortable and less noticeable than ever. Many of today’s treatment options are designed to minimize the appearance of the appliance to fit any lifestyle better. This includes clear aligners or different braces treatment options like ceramic braces, which blend into the color of your teeth; self-ligating braces, which can also be ceramic, making them more discreet; or lingual braces, which are mounted on the back sides of the teeth, making them virtually invisible but just as effective.

However, it is important to note that not every type of appliance is suitable for every kind of orthodontic problem, making it essential to be treated by a licensed orthodontist. By working with an orthodontic specialist, you ensure that the right appliance is selected to correct your unique orthodontic issue. Orthodontists have access to the full range of appliance options, and more than anyone else in the dental profession, orthodontists know which appliance is right for an individual patient’s care.

How Long Does Adult Orthodontic Treatment Take?

Adult orthodontic treatment varies depending on the severity and complexity of issues, and each patient will have a unique plan customized for their needs. Your orthodontist will be able to give you a more accurate timeline for your specific treatment during your initial consultation.

However, it is safe to assume that patients with mildly misaligned teeth will take around eight to twelve months, while more complex cases may take a few years to complete treatment. During that time, orthodontist visits are scheduled every six to eight weeks to monitor your progress. It’s a comparatively small investment of time that pays big dividends in improved dental health, jaw function, biting, chewing, dental hygiene, and overall self-confidence.

Just because you’re no longer a child doesn’t mean the opportunity for a healthy, beautiful smile has passed you by. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life hiding your smile. When considering orthodontic treatment, your age doesn’t matter. You can have the smile you’ve always wanted, and it starts with consulting an AAO orthodontist.

Achieve Your Best Smile with an AAO Orthodontist

You can work with an AAO orthodontist to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to achieve your best smile. Find an orthodontist near you at and transform your smile.