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Adult braces: what you need to know

In recent years, the number of UK adults choosing to undergo orthodontic treatment, often for cosmetic reasons, does seem to be on the rise. Having an incorrect bite can also have a negative impact on wider health, sometimes causing jaw issues and headaches, so this is another reason people might choose to have braces fitted as an adult.

Whilst braces are available on the NHS for those under the age of 18, for those that are assessed to require them, adults wanting to correct the position of their teeth usually have to pay an orthodontist to carry out the work. Occasionally, adults may receive braces as part of NHS treatment, if required for serious health problems.

Fixed Braces

The most common type used in the UK, metal fixed braces are usually the most cost-effective solution, but are also generally the most visible of the different types of adult braces. These braces must be regularly adjusted every few weeks as the teeth gradually move.

Ceramic fixed braces are also available, as an alternative to the metal finish. These essentially work in the same way, but are tooth-coloured, making them a little more discreet. Ceramic fixed braces are generally a little more expensive than metal ones.

Either of these two types of fixed braces are usually suitable for even severe cases of misaligned teeth, but can be uncomfortable when first fitted. The time period for which they will need to be worn will vary from a few months, for less serious alignment issues, to potentially years, for issues at the other end of the scale.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are fixed behind the teeth, so are not visible from the outside. They work in a similar way to fixed braces, by applying continual pressure to the teeth to gradually move them into the desired position. When lingual braces are first fitted, it can take the tongue and palate a few weeks to adjust, so may give a temporary lisp.

These braces are usually more expensive than fixed metal or ceramic braces, and have a similar length of treatment time, which can range from months to years, depending on the nature of the teeth alignment required.

Clear Aligners

Usually most suitable for milder orthodontic cases, clear aligners are removable and custom-made. The custom aligners are made from dental scans or impressions of the patient’s teeth and treatment time is usually somewhere between nine months to two years.

The aligners can be removed for short periods e.g. to eat or when brushing teeth, which makes them less problematic to care for than many other types of brace. However, to avoid bacteria getting trapped in the aligners teeth will need to be brushed and flossed more often. Invisible braces like this usually come at a higher cost than the other types of braces, and aren’t suitable for every type of orthodontic issue.

Other considerations with adult braces

The cost of braces for adults

The cost of the various types of adult braces can vary considerably, depending on who is providing treatment and where in the country you are. Orthodontic treatment with metal fixed braces can start at around £1500, but range up to double or triple that cost for private specialist care. Usually, the most expensive option is to have invisible braces; this type of treatment usually starts at a cost of several thousand pounds.

Can adult braces harm your teeth?

If braces are fitted or adjusted incorrectly, there is a chance that they can cause more problems with the teeth than they solve. Orthodontic treatment isn’t suitable for everyone and if performed poorly, can cause significant pain, injury and suffering, sometimes causing permanent damage.

If you have received orthodontic treatment that you believe was negligent, you may be eligible to make a compensation claim. Contact us today to discuss your options.