Your guide to braces

Looking to have straight teeth? Braces are one of the most effective and popular dental treatments to correct crooked, crowded and overlapping teeth. Here’s what you need to know about orthodontic treatment.

What are braces for? Do I really need them?

Braces create more than just a beautiful smile. As braces shift your teeth, they can change your jaw bones and soft tissue, improving the health of your mouth. They can:

• Move teeth to correct crowding and misalignment

• Create a more comfortable bite

• Resolve certain speech problems

• Make it easier to brush and floss

• Relieve migraines and jaw pain

What kind of braces are there?

An orthodontist can recommend which type of braces is best for you or your child. Here are four common types of braces:

• Traditional metal braces, which can be customized with different colored bands. These braces are the most common and recognizable.

• Clear or tooth-colored ceramic braces, which may also include clear wires.

• Lingual braces are placed on the back of the teeth.

 Clear custom-made plastic aligners look like mouthguards and are less noticeable than traditional braces.

When is the right age for braces?

The typical age to start treatment with braces is between ages 10 and 14.  That's because children at this age usually have most of their permanent teeth, but their mouths are still growing, which makes orthodontic treatment easier. 

If your child has misaligned teeth, consider making an appointment with an orthodontist by the time your child turns 7.  In some cases, your orthodontist may recommend retainers before braces.

Despite the advantages of starting early, it may not be too late to get braces if you're an adult. One in five orthodontic patients is over 18, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. That said, the process can take longer if you're an adult. And, depending on your age, some structural changes may no longer be possible with braces.

How much do braces cost?

Orthodontic treatment can cost from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of braces and length of treatment. Check your dental plan to see if it covers orthodontics and what limitations may apply. Some plans cover orthodontics for children and adults, while others cover only children. Your plan may also have a waiting period before coverage or a lifetime orthodontic maximum.

To get an estimate of out-of-pocket costs, ask your orthodontist to submit a pre-treatment estimate. This document, provided by Delta Dental, can help you understand your expenses.

With braces, you can be on your way to a straighter, healthier smile.