Do Adults Get Metal Braces? Yes, and Here’s Why

In my practice, many of my adult patients choose to get standard metal braces. No, they’re not just for kids or teens, and you won’t need to get a special type of bracket just because you’re an adult.

The great thing about adults is that they’re compliant, know their goals and don’t care what people think about them as much as a self-conscious teenager. This is why many adults embrace metal braces for their orthodontic treatment, with fantastic results.

So if this is you, and you’re still on the fence about getting metal brackets, I’ll explain why you may actually need them, rather than opting for ceramic brackets or even clear aligners.

Can adults get metal braces?

Not only do adults get metal braces all the time, but they’re actually recommended for more complex cases that take longer to fix. Standard metal braces have evolved and are now smaller, more precise and more powerful than ever before.

Here are some of the reasons why metal braces are necessary for treating adult cases:

  • Metal braces are the most affordable. Money is still a factor, whether we like it or not, and most adult patients come in the office already requesting metal braces because they know they’re the cheapest. This is convenient for both patients and orthodontists alike, since metal braces are easy and economical to replace, and readily available.
  • Adults have longer treatment times. Adult bone can be denser, which can slow tooth movement considerably. Some adult cases require surgery or extractions to correct the bite, while other patients have periodontal issues and/or missing teeth that complicate treatment plans. For this reason, metal braces work the best because they are the most durable and easiest to clean.
  • Metal braces are the most hygienic. While most adults can tolerate some plaque on their teeth, for some it can translate into swollen gums and periodontal disease. Your orthodontist will assess the health of your gums and let you know if you need any special care. With their low profile and small size, metal braces are much easier to clean around than bulky ceramic brackets.
  • Adults often need extra dental work. Not only does orthodontic treatment sometimes take longer for adult, but it’s also more tailored to their needs. Many adults have missing teeth that need a special approach, root canals, veneer and crowns. Metal braces are fantastic for difficult dental movements such as uprighting molars and making room for implants, for example.
  • Metal braces stick better to crowns. Now that we mentioned dental work, you should know that braces don’t stick to ceramic crowns very well. This is because the crown’s surface is typically glazed and slippery and needs to be roughened for this purpose. Even with all the extra measures, brackets often fall off crowns. In my experience, I found metal braces to work best if you have any crowns on your teeth.

Hopefully, these arguments are an encouraging boost in favor of metal braces for adults. Fortunately, they’re no longer a taboo or considered ugly, and people choose to wear them later in life all the time.

How long do adults wear metal braces?

How long you’ll be in braces for as an adult depends entirely on how difficult your case is. Your orthodontist might treat your misalignment in just 18 months, while other cases might take 36 months to complete.

It’s hard to tell when just starting out how long a patient’s treatment is going to be, but we can give a rough estimate. I’ve rarely finished an adult case in less than 24 months, just because I prefer to spend some extra time in the finishing stage to perfect the bite, so in my practice, it takes 24 to 30 months to finish adult cases.

But treatment duration also depends on the orthodontist’s style and skill. Some professionals push the limit, go through wires faster and spend less time in the detailing stage, while others take their time and are more gentle (and therefore slower) in their approach.

In the end, while 6 months may seem like a lot in the moment, you’ll barely remember it once it’s over. So rather than worrying about how much extra time you’ll spend in braces, focus on how beautiful your teeth are aligning and how comfortable your bite is.

Are braces harder on adults?

Braces can be harder on adults, because of higher bone density, but also because adult patients are more perceptive and outspoken. It’s hard to actually know what’s the at-home experience for each of our patients.

I typically find my younger patients to be very resilient. They don’t complain while in the dental chair, but I often hear back from their parents that having braces was an ordeal at home – sore teeth, low appetite, etc.

Adults, on the other hand, often let me know the discomfort they’ve been through, and come to the office for the smallest thing, like a slightly poking wire. I’m sure teens are equally disturbed by wires stabbing their cheek, but they often endure it until the next appointment.

So no, I don’t think braces are necessarily harder on adults. I think they’re just not used to the pain any more and they’re very outspoken about it. In the meantime, kids are less likely to protest and their pain is normalised because many of their peers have braces.


If you’re planning on getting metal braces as an adult, you’re in good company. Yes, it will take long, and it will most likely be uncomfortable at first. But you’ll get used to it, and the discomfort will not last long. As for esthetics, I wouldn’t think twice about it. Metal braces are an excellent tool, and for adults, function is often more important than looks.

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