Reclaiming Your Dream Smile at Any Age with Braces

More than just aesthetics! Adults are turning to braces not just for a stunning smile, but also to address long-standing bite issues and boost their overall oral health. It’s never too late to straighten your teeth. At Carroll & Sutton Orthodontics, a respected provider of orthodontic care in the Sarasota-Bradenton, North Port, and Venice, FL communities, whether you’re an adult, adolescent, or child, our experienced orthodontists, Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Michael Sutton, along with our friendly team, are committed to helping you achieve the smile you deserve — a healthy, beautiful one!

Braces in Adults

Adults and braces

Adults are embracing orthodontia like never before.

A survey by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) showed that the rate of people over 18 with braces grew 14 percent from 2010 to 2012. That brought the number of adults with braces in the United States and Canada to over a million.

“We’re more concerned about our appearance and we’re more concerned about keeping our teeth,” says DeWayne McCamish, DDS, MS, AAO president.

Types of braces

Adults getting braces today will find far more options than they remember — or had themselves — in their youth, notes Mina Abdolahi, DDS, MS, an associate in the northern Virginia practice of Saba Orthodontics. The choices can be daunting.

“For adults, aesthetics is the main consideration,” says Abdolahi. Cost and “lifestyle” are the other key considerations, she says. Each option offers advantages and disadvantages.

They include:

Conventional braces

Decades ago, braces consisted of a metal band around every or almost every tooth. Today, conventional braces hold wires with just a single bracket cemented on the front of the tooth. A few bands in the back anchor the wires.

A second option for conventional braces switches out metal for clear or tooth-colored ceramic. Abdolahi says her practice even experimented with white-colored wires, but that the pigment wore off quickly.

Treatment time is usually the shortest with conventional braces. But these devices are the most noticeable, even if you have the ceramic option.

“I’ve had patients who had braces as a teenager, and they said they would never again be a ‘metal mouth,’” Abdolahi says.


Aligners are clear trays that are switched out every two weeks to accommodate the movement of teeth. They remain in the mouth for 20 to 22 hours per day, removed just long enough for meals and cleaning your teeth. The most common brand of aligners is Invisalign.

Aligners are less conspicuous, but they’re still not completely invisible. They don’t affect how you brush and floss your teeth (unlike other types of braces).

However, aligners require the discipline to keep them in every possible moment and to switch out the trays on schedule. Shirking this responsibility sometimes means that treatment with aligners takes longer than with conventional options.

Self-ligating braces

In self-ligating braces, the wire passes through a small metal clip on the bracket. The system eliminates the need for elastic bands to help move the teeth.

Lingual braces

Lingual braces are similar to conventional braces, except the brackets are cemented to the back side of tooth.

Lingual braces are virtually invisible and work just as quickly as conventional braces. However, they are custom-made and typically cost more than other options.

Regardless of the type of appliance, your orthodontist may want you to wear a retainer after treatment is complete. You might wear it part or all of the day.

Can you make braces work faster?

Recently, products have been created that can help speed up your braces treatment.


AcceleDent uses a tray inserted into the mouth for 20 minutes a day over braces or aligners. The tray vibrates, sending “micropulses” to the teeth. The manufacturer says the process cuts treatment time up to 50 percent. Abdolahi says her clients see about a 30 percent reduction.


In a Propel treatment, a doctor inserts a thin probe through the gum just into the bone in two or three places around a tooth. The mouth is numbed with a topical or local anesthetic.

Propel takes advantage of the fact that braces or aligners move teeth through bone, a living tissue. The irritation caused by the probe is meant to trigger your body’s healing response that allows the teeth to move more quickly.

The treatment can be done for people with conventional braces or aligners. It can be done more than once, with a gap between treatments of about six to eight weeks. Patients using Propel see their time in orthodontia cut by half, Abdolahi says.

How much do braces cost?

The cost of orthodontia depends on the initial condition, other health conditions you may have, and the type of device used. Delta Dental, a dental insurance provider, reports on its website that a typical course of orthodontic treatment costs $5,000 to $6,000. Invisalign estimates that a typical course of treatment with its clear aligners would cost $3,000 to $8,000. Dental insurance often will cover the cost of part of your orthodontia treatments, but it’s important to check coverage limits.

Managing your treatment

A typical course of orthodontic care takes about 18 to 22 months, McCamish says, depending on severity of the problem and the type of appliance chosen. Though the length of treatment with aligners depends on wearing the device faithfully, McCamish notes that adults usually are very motivated to do so.

It’s possible to use more than one device during a course of treatment, McCamish says. For example, a person might want to start with an aligner for several months before switching over to conventional braces.

Your orthodontist will take a complete medical history before starting orthodontia care. Because teeth move through living bone during orthodontic care, it’s important for an orthodontist to know if you have low bone density or are taking drugs for the condition. The issue predominantly concerns women, as they are more likely than men to seek orthodontic care as adults and more likely to be affected by low bone density.

The takeaway

The popularity of braces among adults is growing and showing no signs of slowing down. Technology offers choices for a variety of lifestyles and strategies for completing treatment quickly and effectively.

Invest in a brighter future, one smile at a time! Braces can transform your smile and give you more health and quality of life. Discover the many advantages of getting braces, no matter your age. Your perfect smile is within reach! Schedule your appointment today at 772.247.2407. Follow our Instagram for more dental tips.

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Self-Ligating Braces Explained: Are They Better?

The technology of fixing smiles by straightening teeth has steadily improved and expanded throughout the years — including braces! Although they may look similar to braces from the past, this orthodontic method of addressing problematic teeth has several variations and advancements that make straightening teeth more efficient and effective. If you are confused by the options available today, you are not alone! Here is a helpful insight into self-ligating braces, and even better, Dr. Carroll and Dr. Sutton and the friendly, professional team at Carroll & Sutton Orthodontics can help you understand the best treatment for your unique situation and goals!

Are you considering self-ligating braces for your orthodontic treatment, but don’t understand exactly how they work? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Self-ligating braces can seem a bit complex, and often not the “holy grail” they’re advertised to be.

Like any type of braces, self-ligating brackets are just a tool. The first thing patients do when looking to straighten their teeth is find an orthodontist they can trust. Some orthodontists prefer to use traditional metal braces, while others rely more on self-ligating braces like Damon.

So, your orthodontist’s personal experience plays a huge role in the type of appliance you’ll get. If your orthodontist leans into using self-ligating braces and you trust their expertise, then go for it!

How Are Self-Ligating Braces Different?

Self-ligating brackets as we know them today were invented in the 80s to solve some of the problems of traditional fixed braces. As a result, self-ligating braces are smaller, more hygienic, and most of all, more convenient for busy orthodontic practices.

From an orthodontist’s point of view, self-ligating braces are better because we see patients less. This allows for a more streamlined approach to orthodontic treatment, not to mention the ability to take on more patients.

But what does this mean for the person wearing the braces? Are self-ligating braces better than their conventional counterpart, or just more convenient? Let’s compare them and find out.

Self-Ligating Braces Vs. Traditional Braces

The main difference between self-ligating braces and traditional braces is how the wire is secured to the bracket.

With traditional braces, tiny elastic rings or ligatures are wrapped around each bracket to hold the wire in place. This elastic ligature eventually loosens up and becomes contaminated with plaque, which makes it ineffective and well, a little gross.

Self-ligating brackets use a small metal clip instead of elastic to secure the wire. This mechanism is what makes self-ligating braces more sophisticated, but it also changes the way teeth move and straighten.

Since the wire can slide freely inside the self-ligating bracket slot, it allows for faster, unrestricted movement in the first few months, when the wire is round and thin.

As the treatment progresses, and we go to bigger wires, the clip holds the wire tightly inside the bracket, expressing even more intricate movements of the teeth.

Is Treatment Faster With Self-Ligating Braces?

Self-ligating braces often come with the promise of a quicker treatment time compared to traditional braces. This is because self-ligating systems are designed to reduce friction, which is something we want in orthodontics.

Patients might enjoy a slightly shorter journey to their perfect smile, depending on their individual case. Typically, you can expect your treatment to be 3 to 4 months shorter using these braces. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a lot.

By the time we get to bigger wires, the speed of self-ligating braces tends to level out and they become as efficient as traditional braces. This is because bigger wires generate more friction. Plus, we actually want some friction in the final stages of treatment so we can better control the outcome.

My experience with self-ligating brackets has been mixed, with some of them actually taking longer than traditional ones. Granted, I used passive self-ligating braces in those particular cases and waited for a long time for the bite to level out.

The efficacy of self-ligating braces will highly depend on the brand and the orthodontist’s experience.

Ceramic self-ligating braces actually work slower than metal braces in general, so that’s another aspect to keep in mind.

So, don’t trust claims that self-ligating braces are twice as fast. It’s simply not true and highly depends on the patient’s particular bite, teeth, and bone. Lastly, treatment length also depends on the orthodontist’s style and what they call a “finished” case.

Self-Ligating Braces Need Less Appointments

With self-ligating braces, fewer adjustments are typically needed. In fact, they barely need adjusting at all, since the clip can hold the wire in place until it’s time to change it.

However, we still prefer to see our patients about every 8 weeks to monitor their progress and do two things:

  • Check if teeth are moving how we’d like them to move;
  • Take the wire out and clean it, or switch to a new wire when necessary.

Some cases get solved in 10-12 appointments or less. That’s beyond convenient for most patients and orthodontists alike. But, like I said, not all people will be so lucky, so it’s best to adjust your expectations.

Self-Ligating Braces And Color Options

Traditional braces have the upper hand when it comes to expressing your personality with colored elastics. For younger patients, this is sometimes their sole motivation for wanting or accepting braces.

Self-ligating braces are very discreet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a time when you can use color.

During orthodontic treatment, some spaces and gaps can open up and they need to be closed. For that purpose, we use a continuous elastic ligature called power chain on top of self-ligating braces.

Power chains come in many colors, and you can choose a different one at every appointment. So that’s a fun way to make your braces pop.

If you’re wearing rubber bands, those come in different colors too, just ask your orthodontist.

Most people wearing self-ligating braces aren’t interested in wearing color, so that’s why their orthodontists assume they want something discreet. But it’s still good to know you have options.

Understanding Self-Ligating Brace Design

Passive Vs. Active Self-Ligating Brackets

When it comes to self-ligating braces, there are two main types: Passive Self-Ligating Braces (PSLB) and Active Self-Ligating Braces (ASLB). The primary difference between them lies in their design and how they interact with archwires.

Passive self-ligating braces have a deeper slot, and their clip sits away from the wire, allowing the wire to move freely.

On the other hand, active self-ligating braces feature a shallower slot, and the clip is spring-loaded and pressed onto the wire, providing more control over tooth movement. In a way, ASLBs are closer to traditional braces in terms of how they work.

Interestingly, studies have shown that ASLBs are often more efficient than passive braces, and I also found that to be true in my practice.

I know the difference between ASLB and PSLB can be confusing, and you’re not required, as a patient, to be familiar with these terms. Ultimately, it’s your orthodontist who decides what tools to use routinely in their practice.

Metal & Ceramic Self-Ligating Braces

You’ll find that self-ligating braces are available in both metal and ceramic options. The choice depends on your aesthetic preferences as well as how they feel in your mouth. Typically, ceramic braces are smoother than metal ones.

Metal self-ligating brackets are small, low profile, and quite easy to clean around. The fact that they’re all-metal makes them visible, but low-key. Metal braces are the most effective and come with many advantages.

Ceramic self-ligating braces are tooth-colored and can have metal clips, which are more visible, or ceramic clips, which makes them super discreet.

Self-ligating ceramic braces don’t stain as much as traditional ceramic braces, because they don’t have elastic ligatures that turn yellow.

But the downside is that the ceramic clips can make ceramic self-ligating braces quite big and some people have trouble closing their lips.