Adult braces: are my teeth worth it? - Give Me Back My Five Bucks
Adult braces: are my teeth worth it?

Adult braces: are my teeth worth it?

Guess who might be getting adult braces? That’s right, this blogger.

Yesterday I went to the dentist for my regular check-up. I also inquired about my options for orthodontics, because the past 3 dentists I’ve been to have suggested that it would be a good option for me – not only to straighten my teeth, but to prevent problems in the future. I’m kind of borderline though; my teeth aren’t that bad. Looking at my teeth, you probably wouldn’t think I’d need braces. But, I know it is in my best interest to get it done in order to keep my mouth healthy. My teeth are kind of crowded in places and I absolutely know that it is going to cause me problems in the future.

So, my dentist told me to contact a few places in Vancouver that offer  Invisalign braces and take on a lot of patients with adult braces. So, in the next few weeks I’ll book myself in for a free consultation. It’s a big decision, not only for my wallet, but it’s something I’ll have to live with for a minimum of 2 years. Oh, and if you’re wondering, metal/traditional braces are just not going to be an option for me. I would much rather pay a bit more for the freedom of Invisalign. And that’s just a personal choice I’ve always known I would make if it came down to it.

My dentist advised me that based on my situation, Invisalign would cost me between $5,000 to $7,000. Unfortunately, adult braces are not covered by my extended health benefits (orthodontics is actually covered under my health plan, but not for adults).

I know that it’s something I should want to do ( I’ve actually been thinking about it for a few years ), and that money shouldn’t be a factor when my teeth and my health is concerned. But, let’s be honest. Money plays a factor into every purchase we make – especially a huge purchase like this. I’m extremely hesitant, but then I look at my decision to get $3,000 LASIK eye surgery , and that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But at least with LASIK, then down time was minimal and I was good to go after just a few weeks. Having braces will mean at least 2 years of wear, plus years after that of wearing a retainer. AND thousands and thousands of dollars. Plus, well, I’ll have adult braces.

Sigh. Adult braces. It’s a lot to think about. But getting orthodontics is something I’m eventually going to want to do in my life, the sooner I get it done, the better.

***EDIT***

If you’re new to my blog, and wondering if I did end up getting braces (the answer is yes), you can read more about my adventures with adult braces here:

About Krystal Yee

I'm a writer, personal finance blogger, and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I'm a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner's Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I'm not working, you can usually find me running, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.

53 comments

  1. You'll have to keep us posted. I never got braces either and my teeth have some crookedness, though the dentist has said that everything is fine as it is, so for me it would be purely cosmetic. that's not happening unless I came into the lottery or something as I have many higher priorities than that. Good luck and let us know how things progress

  2. Hope it's just two years. I was stuck in mine for four, and teeth move quicker when you are a young teen.

    • The dentist said I'd probably only be about 2 years because my teeth aren't super crooked. So I'm hoping she's right.

    • @Laina: The orthodontist said two and it wound up being four! I suppose you are more or less at the orthodontist’s mercy once the braces are on. As an adult, can you insist he or she take them off if you have had it?

    • Can I ask you where you got your braces and who put them on. I am not satisfied with the person who put mine on and I need someone to take them off and have retainers made.

  3. I got braces when I was 18 and it was the best decision I've ever made. The total cost was about $5k, and I ended up getting the clear braces because my teeth were too crooked for invisilign. Braces are a pain in the butt, but I would do them as soon as you can.
    My recent post Wedding Shower- Round 3

    • @Laura: As an adult, here is what I got for $5,000. BEFORE braces: Teeth on bottom front were crooked. Otherwise, healthy, strong, could open beer bottles with them, no problem biting into apples, chips, you name it, only had to brush teeth twice a day–or more if felt like it, mouth sores rare, grinded teeth occasionally, had overbite but smile felt natural. AFTER braces: Straight. Otherwise, weak, teeth hurt sometimes after eating nuts or chips, haven’t tried biting into an apple yet, have to brush teeth at least 3 times a day, mouth sores common, teeth grinding has decreased, have to unnaturally bring teeth together to smile but looks good. Neutral, but it is up to each person to decide.

  4. findingserenity2010

    Hey, I got braces a year or so ago, and one of my profs did – in her 30s! So it's never too late, and you're right – if teeth issues are on the horizon, get it fixed now when you can afford it.

    From experience, I can tell you that Invisalign is great – I had them for a year and a half to correct some crowding and a bad overbite. They're super easy to care for, too, and the retainer is just the same kind of hard plastic trays that you only have to wear at night. I''d say they are cheaper than a regular set of braces, but yours were quoted about 2x the cost of mine! Geez – get a second opinion/quote on those!

    • That was actually my second quote on Invisalign braces. The last dentist I went to said the exact same price. :(

    • I got braces when I was about 50, and the experience was almost intolerable. I wonder, though. People categorize anyone over age 18 as an adult, of course. But, as you age, you can have all sorts of problems with your teeth and your body, such as high blood pressure, migraines, etc. I think it is a mistake for orthodontists to act like there are either teenagers or adults and anyone can get braces. I had a large bridge and several crowns in my mouth, plus had high blood pressure and suffered from migraines. There is no way I was close to even a 35 year old, with my risks. Yet, I was treated just like an 18 year old, and I don’t think any of my medical history was even taken into consideration. No wonder I had problems.

  5. I paid about $7750 for my Invisilign (two years of treatment) with an orthodontist. I think they are worth it and I'd recommend visiting an orthodontist with a lot of experience with Invisilign (rather than a dentist) for braces treatment.

  6. Wow, that's a lot of money.
    I've been thinking of doing invisalign too, for my bottom teeth.. so expensive!
    My recent post Spending- Week of Jan 10-Jan 16

    • I wish there were more articles and blogs out there about the Pros AND Cons of adult brace wearing. I was about 45 when I got them and never had them before. I was not even remotely prepared for what to expect. I had no idea it would be that difficult or impactful on my life. On the internet, about 90% of the sites are controlled by the ortho. industry. I think if they were more realistic about it, I would have been better prepared. Not every one is going to be the ideal patient. I had discomfort from almost beginning to end.

  7. I'm going through invisalign right now in Seattle. I think the total cost for me was $5600 – I paid half upfront and am making payments – interest free – on the balance. Right now I am 8 months in which for me is about halfway. I never thought I'd do soemthing like this even though I've had a few dentists tell me its a good idea. So far I'm very happy with my decision even though I haven't ben putting as much into my house fund as I used to.

  8. I had braces for two years starting in Grade 9. They were the metal type. My teeth were really messed up and they moved so quickly. A friend of mine had invisalign and her teeth are really nice now, you could barely tell that she had braces when she was wearing them.

    I would go for it. It's something I am soooo grateful my parents did for my brother and I (without insurance!!). Having a nice smile makes your teeth easier to care for and makes you smile more!! :)
    My recent post Dominican Trip!! With PICTURES!

  9. Yikes, that's a lot of money. I need something for my teeth too and I had no idea it would cost that much. I think I might bite the bullet and get it this year too.
    My recent post To Kindle or Not

  10. Just personal opinion, but I just got my braces off a year and a half ago (when I was 27), and it was definately worth it. They were not Invisalign, because as I was told by my orthodontist, only certain types of people – those without serious jaw alignments issues – will benefit from them. I did get traditional braces, but the new types aren't all metal, like kids used to have back in jr, and sr high school. They are clear brackets on teh top, with no elastics, and the bottom ones are metal. Braces now days are smaller and les visible than the ones of 5-10 years ago. I recommend them even if invisalign isn't an option. If you do choose braces, abnd maintain good hygiene practices, you'll never lose your teeth. It also solves many more problems than your teeth looking nicer. I said go for it! I've never regreted it, even though my cost $6800.

  11. I wore braces as an adult too for a little over three years. I got the clear (ceramic) ones and it came up to about 5k.
    I was very pleased with the results – one of the best decisions I ever made!
    It wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought, not much of an inconvenience once you get used to.
    It's been about four years since, I still wear my retainers (occasionally at night) and still very pleased.
    If you can, do it!
    My orthodontist was awesome, he's on Main Street (email me if you want to check him out)
    My recent post The Foggy Hike

  12. I was in a similar situation as you. In my 20's and in need of braces and I had just neglected it over the years. Ultimately for the quickest treatment we used a treatment plan that had me in traditional braces for 9 months, then finish in invisalign for 9 months. I am now in the invisalign portion.

    There are definately pro's and cons about both. With braces you can eat what you want, but they are noticeable. With invisalign I have never had anyone at all say anything, but you cant just eat or even drink when you want. Also with invisalign you will most likely have these small pieces glued to your teeth to help give the invisalign “leverage”. When your invisalign is out these stand out.

    Have you considered driving across the border for quotes?

    • Thanks for your comments! I really appreciate it. I haven't considered driving across the border for quotes because of maintenance visits. I think it would be a huge hassle to have to drive across for check-ups and stuff like that. But I will do a bit of research into it before I make my final decision.

  13. I just ordered retainers because, 12 years after getting my braces off, my teeth are starting to shift a bit. The two will probably cost me a couple hundred bucks but it's definitely worth it. If you can make it work, I highly suggest getting them!

  14. Hey you can deduct taxes on it! Especially if it will cost $5000-$7000. Do you get any benefits from work that will pay for part of it?
    My recent post Canadian vs US Travel Rewards Credit Cards

    • Yeah, at the very least, at least I can deduct taxes on it. Although I think last year when I deducted my LASIK eye surgery, I only ended up getting back $50 – ha! :) Nope, my benefits from work don't pay for orthodontics. Well, they do, but only for children under 18 or something like that. Not for adults.

  15. I got my Invisalign in Sept. '10. I wore traditional braces for 5 years from age 16-21 (I'm 44 now) and unfortunately they didn't have permanent retainers back then and hence, my teeth started to shift about 10 years ago. It wasn't bad at first but the dentist said that over time they would get worse so I decided to get them fixed again. I paid $6200 for them ($2000 is covered thru hubby's dental plan) and it's a short treatment for me. I have 13 trays and have to wear each for roughly 2 weeks and so about 7 months is my treatment plan. I've only had them for 4 months and can see a noticeable difference. In the long term you will be happy you did and may end up spending out less in dental care. I say just go for it (or wait a few months until bf has a new job and maybe he has some coverage) as you will be happy you did.

  16. I am so glad I had braces when I was younger. I have amazing teeth now and love it! My Mom had regular braces for one year when she was in her 40s & HATED it…but it’s been great for her teeth. Her orthodontist said she couldn’t get Invisalign so metal it was for her. She is now so incredibly happy she did it and obviously you’re way younger, plus you have the option of Invisalign! I say go for it once you can figure out the logistics of paying for it. By the way…after those two years, you HAVE to wear your retainer diligently. I’ve had 3 friends who didn’t and their teeth reverted back to the original state a few years later. I actually still wear my retainer (didn’t get a permanent one put in for whatever reason) and it’s been over 10 years since I got my braces off. :)

    • Sometimes I think there should be three categories for adult brace wearing: Adolescents, younger adults and older adults. Both adolescents and younger adults are likely to have fewer issues with their teeth and their health. I can see trad. braces working better on them. But, with older adults, even though some claim they can get braces too, with all of the teeth and/or health issues they may have, I just can’t see the industry knowing for sure how braces would affect them. Let’s say you have three crowns, two bridges and IBS and have high blood pressure. Has the industry really done enough studies to know for sure that these people will have no problem with their braces? I doubt it. Seems to me like most people I know who got braces over age 45 had a hard time with it. I only know a few, but still. Maybe Invisalign should be all older adults should do? Maybe the stress that metal or ceramic braces puts on your body is too much for older adults? I don’t know, but I don’t think the orthdontic industry knows for sure either.

  17. I am so glad I had braces when I was younger. I have amazing teeth now and love it! My Mom had regular braces for one year when she was in her 40s & HATED it…but it’s been great for her teeth. Her orthodontist said she couldn’t get Invisalign so metal it was for her. She is now so incredibly happy she did it and obviously you’re way younger, plus you have the option of Invisalign! I say go for it once you can figure out the logistics of paying for it. By the way…after those two years, you HAVE to wear your retainer diligently. I’ve had 3 friends who didn’t and their teeth reverted back to the original state a few years later. I actually still wear my retainer (didn’t get a permanent one put in for whatever reason) and it’s been over 10 years since I got my braces off. :)

  18. Girl you do what you need to do for your health. You should look into the different payment plans or even the CareCredit Card. I am not sure if you can use it in Canada but I was offered that when I had my LASIK done and it is medical credit card that gives you two years interest free payments…so that makes it easier to pay the total amount. I also used it when I had my wisdom tooth removed and both times I paid the card off BEFORE the grace period ended but it really does help because it spreads the payments out so they don't wreck your budget.
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  19. Reconsider the porcelain braces (not metal!), they are a lot faster. And you are forgetting an added bonus, discounts! With braces as an adult, I got student discounts, student admission at the movies, and children's meals, no questions asked! I was 22 at the time.

    Also ask about fees for fixing permanent retainers when you're done. I get hit with $90 each time the wire breaks (upper ones break a lot). Many orthodontists include that free.

    • I know that there are options for different kinds of traditional braces, and that they are faster, but it really isn't going to be an option for me. I am meeting people all the time through my professional life and I would feel a lot less confidence with braces. I know I should embrace them, but I know I won't. THanks for the tip about the permanent retainer! I'll make sure to ask about it.

  20. Definitely make sure you go to an Orthodontist who knows what he/she is doing. I got Invisalign and it was only supposed to be 9 months and $4,500 (which I paid off in payments) to correct a crossbite. Well, to make a VERY long story short, my treatment was never completed after three dentists, and here I am two years (or so) later with “buttons” on my teeth and no Invisalign.

    I was in the same boat as you, in that nobody would have ever known that I needed braces, but I knew. Also, it was to correct a problem that would have gotten worse over time.

    Get the right dentist, and enjoy your smile!

  21. Re: regular braces. Adults, you have to think before you get braces for cosmetic reasons. There are hidden social-psychological aspects to braces re: adults. It will affect every aspect of your life from eating to sleeping. If you are in a constant state of discomfort, this will affect your attitude. If you have a job that involves a lot of speaking, there are going to be days you are lisping. And, your orthodo. will be in control of your mouth, not you. As an adult, how is it going to feel to not have control of your mouth? These are just a few of the issues you are going to be faced with, and all I was told by my clinic, was that after 3 months, I wouldn't even know they were there. This was not even close to reality. I'd rather have my old teeth back, then go thru what I went thru the last year. Plus, I have another 6 months of this, plus at least 2 more years with a retainer. I feel like I'm more married to my teeth and my ortho. than I am to my husband.
    My recent post I don’t want to get braces

    • You’d be surprised how many orthodon. still make their adult patients rinse their own mouth out in a public sink, and think there is no problem with this, even though for $200 at a dental office, you get pampered to the max. For some reason orthodontists think for $5,000 you should be spitting in a public sink along with children–that way you can get all the latest viruses going around too besides feeling like a 12-year-old and wondering “what the heck did I get myself into.”

  22. I'm 29 and I just recently got traditional metal braces. I was able to be financed through CareCredit and I make low monthly payments with no interest for 24 months! I was hesitant at first because every time I went to the orthodontist, I only saw teenagers. I felt embarrassed at first but the staff made me feel comfortable and all of them had braces before and when they were all in their adulthood. I realized it was the best choice. I have noticed that my teeth have moved and I notice a better smile already. I love my braces at 29! If you are thinking about braces, I say go for it!

  23. Well, if it’s any help to you- I was told in my teens I should have braces to correct a crossbite. My teeth didn’t look bad but they didn’t go together ‘properly’. My parents didn’t think it was worth the money since they looked ok. At the time I didn’t care.

    I’m mid 40′s now and I suffer horribly from TMJ pain due to the years of wear on my jaw from the misaligned teeth. It can be quite agonizing and there is very little that helps at all. I have consulted a number of professionals and asked ‘What if I got the braces NOW?’ I would gladly pay the 6-7grand to rid myself of that pain or even reduce it significantly. The answer has been, ‘Probably wouldn’t help…’ So certainly I won’t spend the money for a maybe/probably not.

    It’s not for certain that had I had the issue corrected 20 years ago I’d be pain free now but if there’s ANY chance that a cross-bite or misalignment will cause future jaw pain then I would suggest that it could be worth every penny spent and your future self will THANK YOU!

    Best of luck!!

  24. Have you looked into 6 Month Smiles?
    They are braces that adjust only your front teeth and take signifacntly shorter and cost less. I just got mine on.

  25. Here is the issue I have with being an older adult brace wearer: All of my life I have been able to eat what I want when I want, etc. Now, with the retainer, I am forced” to think twice every time I want to eat something. How ridiculous! If my retainer is in (and I had no choice when the braces were on), I have to either skip it, because I don’t want to take my retainer out, or I have to figure out how I am going to be able to sneak off somewhere to take my retainer off, especially the case at work. And, I am expected to do this off and on for years!? Get real. Braces/ retainers were not made for adults at all, in my opinion.

    • Teenagers with braces/retainers face the exact same problems. It’s just a matter of choice – do you want to go through some inconvenience with braces/retainers in exchange for a better smile and healthier teeth? For me, the sacrifice has been worth it, and I still have my braces on.

  26. I am glad you think it is worth it, Krystal. But, the difficulty issues are doubled when you are an adult. For ex., teenagers’ liveliehood isn’t connected to their working environment. As an adult you have to work to provide for your family and present a certain image at work, and here you are having to sneak out to brush or clean your teeth, or suddenly start lisping when speaking to a client. I don’t care how the braces look; what I care about is the stress they have added to my life that I was not prepared for at all. There is a well-known correlation between added stress and getting major dental work done. Personally, if I knew what I was in for, I would have choosen another option. Braces are a cosmetic, elective procedure for most adults. Their mom and dads are not forcing them to get it done. Plus, most adults pay for it all out of pocket. The orthodon. industry needs to start treating adults differently. Plus, as an adult, I don’t want to have to wear a retainer to bed. I have an adult life. I don’t want to have to take my retainer out just to lean over and kiss someone.

    • The negatives that come along with braces shouldn´t have been a surprise to you. If you didn´t want to pay the price for the braces, and if you saw so many negatives, I´m wondering why you even bothered getting them done? Unless it was preventative, and not cosmetic.

      I work in a very client-based industry, and at first I was bothered by the idea of having braces too. But I´ve met clients, done TV and radio interviews, gone to conferences, and have had absolutely no issue with my braces. As a side note, I´m never bothered by my braces when I kiss my boyfriend, and I can only imagine a retainer would be much better since there´s not as much bulk on it. :)

      I´m very curious how you would want the ortho industry to treat adults differently?

  27. The problem is, I was not aware of any of the negatives before I got my braces. I was not informed of them. All I was told was that I wouldn’t even know they were there after about 3 months. It seems like you fell into that category. I did not. I am not trying to deny you your positive experince. I’m just trying to say that it is not that way for everyone. I should add, I am an older adult. Sometimes I think that makes a difference (see LuckyMe’s comment above). Personally, I find my retainer more bulky than the braces. But, on to your final question. How I would want the ortho. industry to treat adults differently:
    1. Anyone in the clinic should treat an adult like an adult and an adoles. like an adoles. For example, don’t call me honey or scold me or give me cartoon literature clearly meant for adolescents on how to take care of my braces. This is not easy to do, working on 3-4 adoles. in a row and then having to work on a 45-year-old, for example. You have to change your mindset and be able to do this.
    2. Adults are going to expect to be treated like they are in their dentist’s office. This means the assistant flosses their teeth and rinses out their mouth for them, vs. making them go to the sink to do it along with the kids.
    3. Be more honest with adults. I can see with adoles. you may not want to give them the whole story, as kids’ imaginations can run wild. But, I can tell you from my own experiences that adults will get angry with you, and deservingly so, if you make it sound like it will be a walk in the park and it is not.
    4. With adults, the ortho. and orthodon. asst. need to have more of a 1:1 relationship, vs. an “I am in control and you will do as I say type relationship.” Sure, with adoles. you need to be the parent. With adults, you need to be more of an equal.
    5. Adults are paying for the procedure out-of-pocket and with large sums of money. Their parents are not making them do this. So, adults will have higher expectations. If you paid for $5,000 for a trip to Disneyland, for example, would you want to be treated like a kid when you went there and only go on the kiddie rides. No, of course you’d want to be treated like an adult and get your money’s worth.
    6. The office environment should appeal to both children and adults. Don’t have nothing but cartoon pictures up. Family pictures would be much better, and watch for what you put up. If you put up a sign with a big warning to not eat popcorn and showing someone with a big mouth sore because of it, adults will be turned off by this. No one wants to look at that just as they are about ready to undergone another adjustment.
    Anyway, these are just a few examples. . . . Take care, Krystal.

  28. I keep hearing about orthodontists who won’t take their patients’ braces off until they pay up? Is this true? I would imagine a lot of these patients would be children, much less adults? Wouldn’t that be illegal? Braces are considered a medical procedure, aren’t they? Because they sure feel like it. An orthodontist not taking braces off due to non-payment would be no different than an orthopedist not taking braces off of someone’s leg due to non-payment. If not illegal, it would definitely be unethical. Isn’t the orthodontic industry regulated much?

  29. I’m 42 years old and had my metal braces for the past 6 months. No problems in carrying on with my life. I talk to clients and speak in public a lot. And I smile a lot too, so I flash my metallic smile all the time. :D It is not unusual in this day and age to wear braces either for health or cosmetic reasons. Some people choose to have Botox or fillers, nip & tuck… I choose having a Perfect Smile. Take care Krystal. It is definitely worth it!

  30. I think that is a good point. If you would not get a nip & tuck, anywhere, then braces probably are not for you; if they are just for cosmetic reasons. I would never think of getting a nip & tuck, but went ahead and got braces, and maybe my expectations were a little too high? They looked good, but it caused a lot of stress for me. I didn’t think it was worth it, but if appearances are that important to you, then it probably is worth it. Good point.

  31. Some people here had good experiences, some okay, and some bad. It’s interesting how they all argue that the way it happened to them is the way it is. In reality, I guess all this really shows is that experiences can vary for everyone. The only problem I see with braces, or at least with traditional, is that you won’t know how they affect you, until they are on. Hard to take them off after that. I think orthodontists should at least be informing people of this.

  32. I am very into adulthood and realize I need braces! Bottom teeth have gotten so crooked that they are forcing one of my front teeth forward!

    But….the orthodontist told me I needed to get extensive dental work first—a few root canals, fix a few chips back there, fix a hole in one cap, etc. It will cost FAR more than the braces!!!

    I don’t care what’s going on with my back teeth!! They feel fine; I have no pain; I have very good dental hygiene. Cavities filled and cleaning, I can see fixing. The rest seems like overkill! I feel like he’s making me his teeth-perfection canvas, but it’s MY pocketbook.

    Did anyone here have to go through this kind of extensive work before braces??

    • Hello, Jane. Well, I’m not an orthodontist, but I am a recent adult brace wearer. You are wise to just not take what your orthodontist says 100%. One thing I want to warn you about is that orthodontists are used to dealing with adolescents, so sometimes they think they can tell you, an adult, what to do and you have to put up with it just like the kids. And, I can tell you from my own experiences, that the more dental work you have prior to getting your braces done, the more complicated braces will be. At least on me, they banded any crowns I had prior to putting my braces on. What does your dentist think? Personally, I think root canals, hole in one cap, etc. might be better served by a dentist. Fixing the chips does seem excessive to me, though.

    • Get a second or a third opinion if necessary. Consultations are usually free. You should do this to get a comparison. Orthodontists’ techniques are different from each other, even though they use the same tools.

  33. I’m more than halfway through my treatment with InVu Cosmetic Braces. These are the reasons I decided to pursue treatment as an adult:

    A) Oral Hygiene: My teeth were so close together that flossing was difficult, making it hard to keep my gums healthy. I realized it was going to cost me more over time to address those health issues if I didn’t have ortho.

    B) My Bite: If you have a severe enough overbite, you can actually lose a good amount of tooth enamel. My orthodontist explained to me that my bottom teeth could be virtually non existent by my forties or fifties.

    Other than having to be obsessive about my oral hygiene after meals, I haven’t made any major changes. My orthodontist is amazing. I recommend checking out CosmeticBraces.com if you’re an adult considering treatment, it’s good to know your options.

  34. Hi Krystal, where do we find the pictures of your dental braces? How long have you been wearing them?

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