Debunking Myths: The Truth About Adult Orthodontics

August 5, 2023

Orthodontics has long been associated with images of teenagers donning metal braces, an almost rites-of-passage experience during adolescence. 

However, this image paints an incomplete picture of the true scope of orthodontics. More and more adults today are seeking orthodontic treatments, proving it's never too late to improve your dental health and achieve a confident, radiant smile. 

Despite this rise in orthodontic treatment for adults, there remains a swirl of myths and misconceptions clouding the reality. Are braces only for kids? Is the process painful or embarrassing? Is it too costly? Are the results merely cosmetic? 

In this article, we will debunk these common myths about adult orthodontics and unveil the truth, shedding light on the real benefits and possibilities of orthodontic treatments for adults.

Myth 1: Orthodontics is Only for Kids and Teenagers

When we think of braces and orthodontic treatments, our minds often conjure up images of teenagers with silver smiles. This is a deep-seated stereotype that has perpetuated the notion that orthodontics is exclusively a domain for children and teenagers.

The Truth

In reality, orthodontic treatments are not age-exclusive. An increasing number of adults are opting for orthodontic treatments now than ever before. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, about 1 in 4 orthodontic patients is an adult.

Orthodontics can benefit anyone with permanent teeth, irrespective of their age. The fundamental biological process that allows teeth to move is the same in both adults and children. Just as with younger patients, the goal for adults is the same – to ensure proper alignment of teeth and jaws for optimal oral health and aesthetics.

The growing trend of adults seeking orthodontic treatments can be attributed to the rising awareness of oral health and the desire for improved aesthetics. Moreover, advancements in orthodontic technologies now offer less visible, more comfortable, and faster options, making the process more appealing and convenient for adults.

Hence, it's time to break free from the age-old myth that orthodontics is just for kids and teenagers. Adults too can, and indeed are, reaping the benefits of orthodontic treatments to enhance their dental health and smiles.

Myth 2: Adult Orthodontics is Purely Aesthetic

There's a common belief that the sole purpose of adult orthodontics is to enhance one's appearance. While visual transformation is certainly a compelling aspect of orthodontic treatment, it is a myth that the benefits are purely cosmetic.

The Truth

Orthodontics offers far more than an improved aesthetic appeal. Orthodontic treatment can help rectify numerous dental issues that, if left untreated, could lead to more serious health problems. 

These include malocclusions (or bad bites), which can result in difficulty chewing, speaking, and maintaining oral hygiene. Over time, such issues can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, headaches, and even jaw pain.

Moreover, misaligned teeth can cause uneven wear and tear, leading to premature tooth loss. By correcting the alignment, orthodontics can help distribute biting pressure evenly across all teeth, thereby enhancing their longevity.

Orthodontics can also assist in resolving speech impediments caused by malocclusion and spacing issues. Consequently, beyond the visually pleasing outcome, orthodontic treatments can contribute significantly to the overall oral health and quality of life of adults.

Therefore, it's crucial to dispel the myth that adult orthodontics is merely a cosmetic venture. It's a comprehensive approach towards improved oral health, functionality, and yes, a more confident smile.

Myth 3: Treatment Takes Longer for Adults

Another prevalent myth is that orthodontic treatments take a significantly longer time to show results in adults compared to children or teenagers. This belief is often rooted in the perception that adult bones are fully grown and set, thereby making it more difficult and time-consuming to alter tooth alignment.

The Truth

While it is true that the process might be slightly slower in adults due to denser bone tissue, the overall treatment time does not solely depend on the patient's age. It primarily hinges on the complexity of the individual's orthodontic problem. Minor adjustments can be achieved in a matter of months, while more complex cases involving severe crowding, spacing, or bite issues may take longer.

Furthermore, advancements in orthodontic technology have made it possible to expedite treatment. For instance, self-ligating braces, high-tech wires, and clear aligners can all potentially decrease treatment time compared to traditional braces.

Additionally, patient compliance plays a significant role in treatment duration. Following the orthodontist's instructions on oral hygiene, diet, and wearing any additional appliances as instructed can significantly influence the length of the treatment process.

So, while age can be a factor in treatment time, it is certainly not the only or even the primary factor. Therefore, the myth that orthodontic treatment invariably takes longer for adults is far from the truth. It is always best to consult with an orthodontist to understand the expected treatment timeline based on individual conditions and needs.

Myth 4: Orthodontic Treatment is Painful

One of the most pervasive myths about adult orthodontics is that the process is painful. This belief often stems from stories shared by others who underwent orthodontic treatments in their childhood or adolescence, or from the notion that moving teeth must be inherently painful.

The Truth

While orthodontic treatments can cause discomfort, particularly after the initial placement or adjustments of braces or aligners, labeling the entire process as painful is an exaggeration. Most individuals describe this feeling as a mild pressure or soreness that typically subsides after a few days.

Orthodontic technology has come a long way over the years, with new advancements prioritizing patient comfort. Today's braces are smaller and more comfortable than they were in the past. In addition, aligners, like those used in Invisalign treatments, are custom-made to fit snugly over the teeth, minimizing discomfort.

In cases where discomfort does occur, it can generally be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Moreover, orthodontists can offer tips and tricks, like eating soft foods or using orthodontic wax, to help patients adjust to their braces or aligners.

Furthermore, any temporary discomfort is typically overshadowed by the long-term benefits of treatment: a healthy, functional, and attractive smile. Thus, while some discomfort is part of the process, the claim that orthodontic treatment is overall painful is indeed a myth. A conversation with an experienced orthodontist can offer a more accurate picture of what to expect during the treatment process.

Myth 5: Wearing Braces is Embarrassing for Adults

Many adults shy away from orthodontic treatments under the belief that wearing braces is embarrassing or socially awkward for their age group. This notion is often fueled by societal stereotypes that associate orthodontic appliances, particularly traditional metal braces, with children or teenagers.

The Truth

There's no denying that social perception and self-confidence play a role in our decision-making process, especially when it comes to our appearance. However, the myth that braces are embarrassing for adults is becoming increasingly outdated. Society is moving towards a greater acceptance of braces for all ages, especially as more adults are openly opting for orthodontic treatment.

Moreover, orthodontics has evolved tremendously over the years, with a variety of treatment options designed to be less noticeable and more aesthetically pleasing than traditional metal braces. For instance, ceramic braces offer a less visible alternative, as they blend in with the color of the teeth. Lingual braces, which are placed on the backside of the teeth, offer an even more discreet option.

For those who want to avoid braces altogether, clear aligners, such as Invisalign, have revolutionized the field of orthodontics. These virtually invisible aligners can straighten your teeth without drawing unwanted attention, enabling adults to undergo treatment with minimal impact on their appearance.

Adults considering orthodontic treatment should remember that the ultimate goal is a healthier and more confident smile. Any temporary awkwardness or adjustment to an orthodontic appliance pales in comparison to the long-term benefits of treatment. Thus, the notion that wearing braces is embarrassing for adults is a myth that should not deter anyone from pursuing a better smile.

Myth 6: Orthodontic Treatments are Unaffordable for Adults

One of the most widespread myths surrounding adult orthodontics is that it's too expensive. Many adults hold back from seeking orthodontic treatment due to the perceived high cost, often assuming that insurance will not cover the expenses since it's not deemed "necessary".

The Truth

Orthodontic treatment is indeed an investment, but viewing it as unaffordable is often an overgeneralization. The cost of orthodontic treatment varies greatly depending on the complexity of the case, the type of treatment chosen, and the geographic location. Some treatments may be relatively affordable, while others can be more costly.

Furthermore, many dental insurance plans do provide coverage for orthodontic treatment, even for adults. Coverage varies by provider, so it's important to check with your insurance company to understand your plan's benefits and limitations.

In addition to insurance, there are other ways to make orthodontic treatment more affordable. Many orthodontists offer financing options, such as monthly payment plans, to spread out the cost of treatment. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) can also be used to pay for orthodontic treatment with pre-tax dollars.

Also, keep in mind that orthodontic treatment is an investment in your oral health and self-confidence. Misalignment issues can lead to other oral health problems that could be more costly to treat down the road. Investing in orthodontic treatment now can potentially save you from more expensive procedures in the future.

Thus, while cost is an important factor to consider, the myth that orthodontic treatments are unaffordable for adults is not entirely accurate. A consultation with an orthodontist can provide a more precise estimate based on your individual needs and help you explore the different financing options available.


Orthodontics is not just for kids or teenagers – it's a beneficial pursuit for adults as well. Contrary to common misconceptions, adult orthodontic treatment is not solely aesthetic, painful, embarrassing, or unaffordable. With modern advancements, it's more convenient, comfortable, and accessible than ever.

Don't let myths deter you from achieving a healthier, more confident smile. At Quest Orthodontics, we offer personalized, comprehensive care for all ages. If you're considering adult orthodontics, we're here to guide you on this transformative journey. 

Get in touch and let’s create a brighter smile together!

New Patient? Let’s Chat!
Chat with us
Welcome to Quest Orthodontics: Dr. Arjun Patel!
We are open and offering complimentary new patient consultations.
How can we help?
I'm considering treatment
I’m a patient and need assistance
Excellent, I can help!
Good news, We're are now offering both complimentary Virtual and In-Office Consultations
Let us know what you would like to do next:
I'd like to set up a virtual consultation
I'd like to set up an in-person consultation
I have a quick question - click to call Quest Orthodontics: Dr. Arjun Patel