Dear PoPville – Should I get Braces even though I’m in my 40s?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

“Dear PoPville,

Yesterday I went to the dentist for the regular-clean up. I didn’t have any cavities!, but the dentist recommended me to go to an orthodontist to get braces; not that I have to, but just a recommendation (I know I have bad teeth). The thing is I’m in my 40’s, and although I would like for my teeth to look better, I’m kind of not feeling like spending the next 2 -3 ( ! ) years with some metal on my teeth. He explained about another method of doing this that takes longer to fix the problems, he himself used this last procedure recently (he is older than me) and told me that if he had to do it again, he would go with the braces because is faster.

Should I do it or not?”

48 Comment

  • If you’ve been happy with your teeth for the past 40 years, then I say save your money and take a trip instead!

    If you want to straighten your teeth, but are self conscious about the metal gear (I had that when I was a teen) try something like Invisiline or some other clear braces. They’re clear and (I think) are attached to the back side of your teeth, so it’s really hard to see them.

    Downside: it takes longer, as you mentioned, and you talk with a bit of a lisp until you get used to them and can adjust… but this would happen with the traditional metal braces too.

    I say take that trip! Good luck!

    • notlawd

      Invisalign actually covers the front and back of the teeth, but they are clear and barely visible unless someone is staring at your mouth. They also take much less time than braces, I had mine for about 8 months, but it depends on how much you need your teeth to move. Some people are not eligible for it. I would not get this if its not something you thought about doing on your own. Its very expensive $5,000+ but totally worth it if it something you have always wanted to get done. Another thing to know is that once you are finished they advise that you wear an aligner at night indefinitely so that your teeth do not shift back. Those last 6 months to a year and cost $500 for three sets I think.

  • depends, ar ou looking to attract a mate? have you lost work because of your teeth?

    • Not at all, I’m happily married and I’ve never had problems with work because of my teeth. Thanks!

      • then don’t do it, is my advice.

      • Yeah … in that case, I say forget about it. I’ve always thought adult braces are for people with image issues they can’t get past. (And if you have those issues, they’re a great solution to resolving them.) I could have used braces in my teens and know I don’t have the greatest set of pearly whites, but I’m also highly unlikely to be mistaken for an Appalachian meth addict or — at least depending on the wife’s mood — in need of impressing the opposite sex for purposes of pairing off. Not medically necessary and not something you don’t want to do? Then don’t do it.

      • If you’re happily married you’re husband won’t care about seeing metal on your teeth for a couple years, and I think it would be worth it when you’re done! You may not be self-conscious about your teeth, but you care enough to post this question and get advice, so I’d say it matters to you enough to just go through with the procedure. Before you know it, they will be off and you will have an even better smile!

  • I think people tend to look at adults a little funny when they have braces. It’s just unexpected, I guess.

    Are you single? Partnered? Looking? That plays into it too. Are you in a job that requires a lot of public interaction?

    I would lean towards not getting them, unless you know that you will have a better quality of life after spending however many thousands of dollars and 2-3 years with metalmouth.

  • I’m a bit younger (mid 30s), but was in a similar situation. I’m now about 10-12 weeks into using Invisalign.

    Obvious pros: (1) they’re virtually invisible (people don’t know I’m wearing my trays at all unless I tell them), and no metal; (2) you can just take them off when you are eating or drinking (anything but water), so there’s no foods you have to stay away from.

    Obvious con: it ain’t cheap. It depends on the length of time you need to have them (I think the range is from 9-24 months, depending on how crooked your teeth are), but at minimum you’re looking at about $4500, and more likely closer to $6000. I think most orthodontists who offer it will work with you in terms of financing or payment plans.

    • Many FSAs will pay for these. So you can, with a little planning and a job that offers flexible spending accounts, do this.

      • I second both of these. I had invisalign for about a year, and it only got noticed once. Plus, if there’s a special occasion (say, *ahem* a wedding) you can leave them out for the whole day.

        Important note: they do have to put on “attachments”, which is basically like gluing little bumps to your teeth, so the trays have something to grab onto to align. However, they are the color of your teeth, and unless they’re put on the very front teeth you won’t notice unless you really look.

        • Oh, and definitely don’t plan to be around people for the first couple of days. my list was BAD, haha, but then it dies down. Again, if you have a presentation or something, you can take them out.

        • yep, the “attachments” upset me for about 2 days and then I got over it (and I had them on a bunch of my front teeth). nobody else really noticed them unless I pointed them out even though I felt they were really noticeable. it definitely is important to know about them going in, though.

          here’s a tip: my ortho told me I could eat with my aligners in (everything except really hot tea/coffee) and this significantly cut the time I had invisalign for. instead of changing the trays every 14 days, it was every 10 if you ate with them in — and brushed and flossed thoroughly immediately after every meal. I lost 10 lbs without trying just because I was too lazy to snack because it meant brushing and flossing again.

  • I’ve had that suggested to me too and my teeth are almost naturally straight- It’s not 100%, but it’s my smile and I’m fine with it the way it is. To some extent, it’s an upsell- One dentist asked if I had ever had braces b/c my teeth are so straight, then suggested I get braces- just to tweek it a little here and there. WHAAA???

    A friend of mine had BAD teeth every-which-way- she would cover her mouth when she laughed or smiled. She did invisalign and it worked wonderfully. It did take a while, but some of the results showed pretty quickly.I think she did it for 3 years- but her teeth are awesome now. She still has the hand-over-the-mouth habit sometimes though.

    • MsNesbitt

      It’s definitely an up-sell tactic. I have had dentists do this to me for years and years (and my teeth are in no way crooked). If you’ve been happy and not self-conscious about your teeth for the past four decades, then you’ll probably be happy about your teeth for the next four decades, too. Flaws add character; embrace them!

  • sometimes crooked teeth add character but if YOU think they’re “bad” then get them fixed! We live in a culture that puts a high premium on outward appearances and if you have the means, there’s no reason at all not to do it. No matter what your situation, a lot of things in your life will change with an improved smile. A LOT.

  • invisalign.

  • I’m an adult who had a class III bite (underbite with a deviation to one side) and braces + orthognathic surgery to correct it. Despite feeling like a total dork for the 2.5 years it took, I honestly would do it all over again if I was faced with the same problem. I now have no ache/click/or lock of my jaw and don’t grind my teeth at night (this is usually caused by stress but augmented by mal-occlusion as the teeth try and find an equilibrium).

    Given the similar cost of both devices I would seriously ask yourself if you truly have the discipline to make yourself wear the invisalign trays ALL the time. If not, I would seriously consider the braces – that way there’s no forgetting them, losing them or braking them (they are VERY expensive to replace). I got the clear braces and was able to eat anything (once I got over the initial achy period of 3-5 days).

    Let me know if you have anymore questions – would love to help if I can!

    [email protected]

    • Thanks for offering your help, actually the dentist mentioned that forgetting to put them on everyday was a real problem for him. I’ll have to do a little more re$$earch and I’m leaning towards not doing it but if I decide to do it, I’ll e-mail you. Thanks again.

  • Worried about looking like a teenager? The fact that you wrote into a blog asking strangers for advice on a personal decision leads me to believe you have the self confidence of a teenager – so your teeth might as well match! If you are a married person in your 40’s and can’t make this decision between you and your spouse…

    • Wow, I bet you dont talk to people face to face like that. Dont be a douche.

      • You are right! People I speak face to face with know better than to ask me questions like this. If someone asked me this face to face my reply might be worse.

        • I don’t think the OP specifically asked YOU, personally. But it’s just like a jerk to make it all about you.

  • I had braces for most of my childhood and adolescence. I have a small mouth and big teeth so they were all crammed together, and the dentist scared my mother with predictions of dental calmities if they stayed that way. After many thousands of dollars and many years of pain and expense, the braces came off and my teeth gradually moved back to their original locations. As for the dentist’s dire predictions? I’ve never even had a cavity.

    I would definitely get a second and third opinion before getting braces. I personally think there are very few people who actually need them and whose teeth retain the new positions.

    • well, so far I’ve got like 20 opinions 😀 Thanks for your advice.

      • Listen.

        If you do any research, Invisalign does not work.

        Get braces and fix your teeth. Why not?

        • what? I had invisalign and it most certainly does work. faster than braces, in fact. I highly recommend it if you were thinking about it.

          if, however, you’re just insecure after what your dentist said, I’d skip it. if your teeth have character and you like your smile, there’s no reason to drop that kind of dough. also, you should realize that dentists have relationships with orthodontists and they likely profit from the referrals they give to each other.

      • I mean from dental professionals. Remember, a lot of them have orthodontist friends so they have ulterior motives for recommending braces.

  • In making a decision, know what the risks of not having orthodontia done are. I was advised to get braces when I was in my late 20s, not for any cosmetic benefit, but because of the risk that my bite was hitting my upper plate in a way that would ultimately endanger the gum. I got the orthodontia even though the braces were visible and the 2-3 year projected treatment ultimately took 5 years. During much of the time I was self-conscious about my personal appearance — not to mention craving apples, caramels, and crusty bread. But the overall benefits to my dental health ultimately made the treatment worthwhile, notwithstanding the short-term costs.

  • I think it’s a valid question, and I think it comes down to how much it bothers you and what your resources are. It’s still a personal decision, but opinions of others – even strangers – who have thought about it or had it done can inform the OP’s decision. No need to lash out at the OP.

  • I’m in my mid twenties and am (unfortunately) braced, for the second time around. My teeth require quite serious movement (I had a smile that, while straight, still contained baby teeth at the age of 23 that needed to be removed to make room for permanent teeth!), but my treatment is only expected to take about 2 years. While it can be a nuisance from time to time, I’m glad I went through with my decision to get braces as an adult.

    If you need a rec, I highly recommend Dr. Shefferman. He deals with quite a large number of adult patients, and I couldn’t be happier with his treatment.

    • +1 on Dr. Shefferman. I clench my teeth and was referred to him for a night guard. He did a great job making sure it was perfectly molded to my mouth and adding more plastic to it each time I wore through it.

  • My 35 year-old husband has had regular shiny silver braces for going on 6-months (orthodontic plan calls for 2 years). He actually smiles more now than before the braces. I agree with other posters that it really depends on how you yourself feel about your teeth. My husband had always been self-conscious of his very not-straight teeth (though I married him with those teeth so clearly didn’t bother me). He decided to go with regular braces over invisilign due to cost and time involved. Aside from having to sit in a waiting room full of pre-teens every month, he’s been happy with his decision. And friends/family/co-workers quickly got used to them so no one even notices his shiny smile anymore!

  • andy

    I haven’t had this situation but know someone well who did. I say whatever you choose, start now and get it over with as soon as you can. If you think about it for another couple years you’ll be saying to yourself, “I could have had these off by now” a million times once you do.

  • Yes, do it now, you’re wasting time second guessing. If you get Invisalign, go to a premier provider which would most likely be a dentist who has done tons of cases. Orthodontists do Invisalign, but their area of expertise is fixed appliances (metal braces)and kids. Orthodontists fumble with Invisalign because they don’t do enough cases to become really good at it. An experienced Invisalign dentist can finish an Invisalign case faster than an orthodontist because they know how to design the case for the quickest treament time.

    • I disagree. my orthodontist has used invisalign hundreds of times. he really knows what he’s doing. I think it’s been insanely lucrative for him, but who cares, my experience was great.

      OP, if you’re interested:

      • Yes, Shefferman has done a lot of cases so he is a premier provider. Not all Orthos know what they’re doing when it comes to Invisalign. Best to ask dentist/ortho how many Invisalign cases they’ve completed during the initial interview.

      • FWIW, Shefferman specifically told me my case was not a good fit for invisalign, and recommended braces instead (even though Invisalign would probably have been more lucrative, for him). He assesses each person on a case-by-case basis, and will recommend whatever treatment option is best, regardless of his profit. Highly recommended.

  • invisalign, people. it’s not invisible, but it’s a million times better than traditional braces… this is coming from somebody who had both!!! bonus is that your oral health will really benefit from how diligently you will have to brush and floss with the aligners. it’s also great if you have a big interview or something, you can leave them out for a small time.

  • Get a motor cycle or a tattoo like evrybody else having a mid-life crisis.

  • Hi,

    I am in my 40s and recently developed an open bite due to problems with some TMJ-related jaw movement. I was given the choice of jaw surgery or braces/invisalign Naturally, I chose the non-surgical option. Like many others commenters here, I also go to Dr. Shefferman and he does have a very large adult patient base.

    I have done been using invisalign now for about 2 month and it is too early to see any movement. It is a bit of a pain every time you want to eat and I have already lost one of my devices. That said, I am happy with my decision. I have several friends who used invisalign for cosmetic reasons, but I would not have been willing to put up with the hassle unless I was really unhappy with my teeth (or had to use it for medical reasons).

  • My mom got braces in her 40s. She was happily married (still is) with three kids. She has never for one second regretted it and thinks it was one of the best decisions she ever made. She had a large gap between her two front, top teeth (so did all of us kids). All three kids got braces first and then she got hers last. When she had her braces on, she looked five years younger. When her teeth were straightened and the braces came off, she looked ten years younger. Plus, she used to only smile with her mouth closed or by hiding her top teeth. She now smiles with her whole mouth, which also makes her look better. Having braces is a pain. But, they’re worth it later. If you have the money, go for it.

  • Go ahead and do it.

    If you can afford it, it’s something you should do. Now. In the short term, you’ll be mainly improving appearance, but it’s the long term you should really consider. It will mean so much to you to have good teeth as you age. Think about having good teeth at age 70 and 80. There are so many benefits to be gained, not just appearance wise.

    Do some research and find a good practitioner. Two years from now you’ll be pleased with your decision. 10 years from now, you’ll be very pleased. 40 years from now, you’ll look back and affirm that you made a great decision.

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