Is 20 Too Old for Braces? Advantages of Starting Late

Are you a twenty-something dreaming of straight teeth and worrying you’ll look silly in braces? Plenty of adults wear braces these days, and I’d argue that getting braces in your 20s is even better than getting braces as a teenager.

20 years old is not too late for braces. Neither is 30, 40, or 50. As long as you have healthy bones that your teeth can move through and healthy gums to support them, braces can work for you at any age. If you feel self-conscious, save up for ceramic braces or clear aligners.

I have many adults in my practice, and I really like working with them because they take such great care of their braces. 20-year-olds make great patients; they’re enthusiastic about their treatments and their teeth are still very healthy. If you still need convincing, read on.

Why it’s never too late for braces

At any age, the mechanism through which teeth move is the same. Bone-modelling cells get activated inside the bone, causing teeth to become slightly ‘loose’. Check this article on ‘loose’ teeth during orthodontic treatment to understand the exact process.

The best age for getting braces is during early adolescence, around 11 to 13, while the bones are still soft and growing. Tooth movement at this age is smooth and easy. As children turn into teenagers and adults, their bones harden, which makes tooth movement a little slower.

However, that’s not always the case. I’ve treated plenty of 20-year-olds that had softer bones than some of my 14-year-old patients. Bone density is a personal trait that makes treatment length variable, but it also makes it possible at any age.

There’s no reason to feel self-conscious

If you’re worried about what others might think of you for getting braces in your 20s, know that you’re not alone in your decision to take your oral health seriously.

Adults make up 27% of U.S. and Canadian orthodontic patients. In developing countries, that number is even higher, as very few adults had access to braces in their childhoods, and they’re trying to make up for the lost time. In my practice, about half of the patients I treat are adults.

Wearing braces in your adulthood does come with some challenges, but having people judge you should be the least of your problems.

Advantages of getting braces in your 20s

Whether you’ve had braces before and you’re looking to fix your teeth after they relapsed, or you didn’t have the chance to wear braces as a child and you’re looking to do it now, getting braces in your 20s is a great idea.

The best time for wearing braces was in your childhood, but the next best time is now. Here’s why braces can work miracles in your 20s:

1. You take better care of your teeth and braces

Adult orthodontic treatments can get complicated with age because of missing teeth, gum disease, dental implants and other issues that we need to work around.

The good thing about being in your twenties is having great teeth. Hopefully, they stay that way for a long time.

Adult patients are usually fantastic with hygiene, they don’t eat ‘forbidden’ foods, and barely ever break brackets. This makes orthodontic treatment smooth sailing, compared to treating a reluctant teenage boy (sorry, teenage boys, but it’s just the truth).

2. You’re more compliant with elastics

Wearing elastics (also called rubber bands) is an important part of orthodontic treatment. They move groups of teeth through bone and settle the bite into a correct position.

It takes a lot of discipline to wear elastics according to instructions, 24/7, sometimes long term. Adults are far better at this than children, and they need to be because their teeth move a little slower.

Remember yourself as a 11-year-old. Would you have had the willpower to listen to your orthodontist all the time? As a child, you probably didn’t understand all the sacrifices your parents made for you to get braces, but as a young adult, you’ll carefully abide to all the rules.

3. You can finally afford braces

Many adults who decide to straighten their teeth do so because their parents couldn’t afford to offer their children braces. All families are different; sometimes parents consider that their child’s teeth aren’t crooked enough for braces, and other times the child is reluctant to go through treatment.

Getting braces as an adult, using your own money, is much more empowering. You’re doing something important for yourself and your health, maybe something you aspired to do growing up. You’ll be much more appreciative of your final results than you would have been as a child.

4. You have access to Clear braces or aligners

If you’re looking for a discreet option, ceramic braces, sapphire braces, and clear aligners are all excellent options that are best suited for adults. Children aren’t skilled enough to clean around ceramic braces, or responsible enough not to occasionally lose their expensive aligners.

Of course, there are exceptions, and some teens can be careful with their braces or aligners, but aesthetic braces work best as a discreet option for adults.

Clear braces and aligners are more expensive, though, so if you’re wondering if they work better, check this article that compares ceramic and metal braces.

5. You’ll be able to resolve medical issues

Another reason for getting braces in your 20s is to fix any oral health issues you might have. Do you get frequent headaches, is your jaw clicking, or do you feel like your bite is off? You might have a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problem.

Fixing your bite and TMJ issues at any age is beneficial – your teeth won’t wear down as easily, your headaches and muscle tension will go away, you’ll chew better and improve your digestion.

6. You’ll make room for Dental implants

Hopefully, you’re not missing any teeth in your twenties, but if you do, you’ll possibly need braces to reopen an old extraction site so that you can get dental implants.

It takes less than a year for neighboring teeth to tip into the extraction space and create interferences in your bite. You can correct old extraction sites with braces, and get your perfect smile in the process, too.

7. You’ll be more compliant with retainers

All orthodontic patients need to wear retainers. Some need to wear retainers for life. What ends up happening is children will not wear their retainers for more than a couple of years, sometimes less. Eventually, teeth start to crowd together and become crooked again, to some degree – this is called orthodontic relapse.

Many adults come back for relapse treatment because they didn’t maintain the results they got as children. As an adult wearing braces for the first time, you’ll be much more compliant with wearing retainers long-term, because you won’t let all that effort go to waste.


I hope I’ve convinced you there’s no better age than your 20s to get braces. You have an entire life ahead of you to show off your flawless smile. Braces in your 20s are nothing to be embarrassed about, and you’ll feel great knowing you’re doing the responsible thing for your health and self-esteem.

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