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Dental Braces: Facts and Benefits

For decades, dental braces have helped patients develop healthy smiles. Over four million people in the U.S. wear braces, and 25 percent of these individuals are adults. If you have a misaligned jaw or out-of-place teeth, be sure to ask your dentist if braces are right for you. Crooked teeth can put extra pressure on certain parts of your mouth, and can lead to serious complications later on in life. Although braces may seem intimidating, listen to your dentist if they recommend you see an orthodontist. Dental braces can be painless and are often a permanent solution for fixing your teeth. Correcting crooked teeth will help boost your self-confidence and give you the healthy smile you’ve always wanted.

What Are Dental Braces?

Dental braces have brackets that run along a wire and affix to your teeth. Together, the brackets and wire press against your teeth to move them slightly so that they will become straight and properly aligned. They are usually used to help close gaps or correct crooked teeth.

Today’s braces are made out of many different materials, making them less noticeable. If you are concerned about your appearance, orthodontists now offer braces that are almost entirely invisible.

Teenagers and young adults sometimes enjoy getting braces made in several different colors. Although these braces are more noticeable, individuals can choose colors that represent their own personality and style. Other people prefer getting clear braces that are virtually unnoticeable. Either way, contemporary braces are usually made out of ceramic brackets and wires rather than metal.

How Much Do Braces Cost?

The price of braces varies, depending on whether you have dental insurance and also depending upon the type of treatment your orthodontist recommends. The average American spends about $5,000 on braces, presuming he or she doesn't have dental insurance. This price is just for the braces themselves and doesn't include visits to the orthodontist, or x-rays and other diagnostic tests.

Many orthodontists offer a free initial consultation, which gives you the opportunity to determine whether you're comfortable with the orthodontist and would like to proceed. If you would like to use dental insurance to cover any part of the cost of braces, you should sign up for insurance before getting the braces put on, as they may not be covered if you begin treatment before you get insurance.

Braces for Adults

Braces are often associated with childhood, and there’s a misconception that it is easier to correct crooked teeth in children than in adults. However, it's never too late to get treatment for problems with crooked teeth or misaligned jaws.

Braces for adults are similar to braces for children. However, it often takes longer for adults to correct tooth and jaw problems than it does for children. Adults can expect to wear braces for three or four years, while children usually have them for two years.

In some cases, your primary dentist can take care of orthodontic problems for you so that you don't have to see a specialist. This is usually true for adults who only have minor problems they would like to fix. For any complex oral issues, you'll probably have to see a specialist. Orthodontists usually charge about the same to see adults as they do to see children.

Some adults are reluctant to get braces because they feel they are too old to be wearing them and don't want other people to notice. If that's the case, consider spending a little extra to get clear braces that are difficult for others to see.

Benefits of Braces

Braces can correct a wide variety of problems. Most commonly, they're used to correct teeth that have grown in crooked or to re-align the jaw. Braces can also correct overcrowding, a problem that occurs when the teeth are spaced too closely together. Overcrowding is a concern because teeth that are too close together are harder to brush and floss, so patients who have this problem are more likely to suffer from gum disease and tooth decay. Orthodontists can correct overcrowding by putting spacers in between the teeth.

Wearing braces can also help correct the way patients bite. If the teeth or the jaws aren't aligned properly, patients may have a hard time biting and chewing their food. This can cause the teeth to wear out very quickly. If this problem isn't corrected, sometimes the patient will lose their teeth later in life. In addition, problems with biting can tire out jaw muscles and cause pain while eating. In some cases, misalignment can cause a "bucktooth" appearance. This condition makes the patient more likely to suffer injuries to his or her front teeth, especially if they play sports.

Finally, wearing braces can help give you more self-confidence. It can be embarrassing to smile when your teeth are crooked. And some overbites are so severe that it's difficult to chew with your mouth closed. These oral complications can make it more difficult to socialize. Once your smile is corrected, you may find it easier to be yourself and interact in more social situations.

Braces can be critical to the future of your oral health. The younger you are, the easier it is to correct dental problems. So if your children are showing signs of crooked teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist soon. Adults should also talk to their dentists about the possibility of getting braces if they have problems with biting and chewing, or if their teeth are crooked. Don’t let crooked teeth stand in the way of a confident smile.


*This information is for general educational purposes only. The information presented is not a guarantee or representation that the procedures are covered under a Humana Dental or Vision Plan.

*Humana Individual dental and vision plans are insured and or offered by Humana Insurance Company, HumanaDental Insurance Company, Humana Insurance Company of New York, The Dental Concern, Inc., CompBenefits Insurance Company, CompBenefits Company, CompBenefits Dental, Inc., CompBenefits of Alabama, Inc., CompBenefits of Georgia, Inc., CompBenefits Direct, Inc., DentiCare, Inc. (d/b/a CompBenefits) or Texas Dental Plans, Inc.