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Braces are not only for teenagers: many of us need orthodontic support at various points in our lives. Our teeth (and mouths in general) shift and realign themselves over time, and braces are often (not always, but often) the ideal method to repair their growth.

Our teeth, mouths, and jaws are not always equal, and they rarely grow and align in perfect proportion. Many of us find ourselves with teeth that grow in poor alignment. Others may develop teeth that are not sized along with the jaw supporting them. Often times, the result is an overcrowded or poorly aligned mouth. Braces are designed to form-fit the teeth and provide correctional shaping, forcing the teeth to align and grow properly.


But before assuming braces are your best option, examine two key factors:

1. Appearance.
There has long been a fear among people in need of braces that they will be distracting and unattractive. But the days of "getting braces" meaning "a mouthful of metal" are fast disappearing. Many orthodontists now use ceramic braces as opposed to metal ones. Ceramic braces decrease their visibility, which can give peace of mind to those worried about the look of the old metal braces. Also, some patients are able to wear behind-the-teeth braces to keep them inconspicuous. And while some patients are unable to wear ceramic braces, clear braces (commonly referred to as "invisible braces") can be a great solution.

2. Cost.
The cost of braces fluctuates, of course, depending on the material used and the professionals who install them. Braces require frequent maintenance to keep their support bands tight and check for any problems the braces may be causing, so prepare for that cost. As for materials, metal braces typically cost less than ceramic ones and sometimes present the best financial option.

It is safe to expect a cost of roughly between $3,800 and $8000 for a set of traditional metallic braces, with a slightly higher cost for the less visible types. When searching for the right orthodontist, keep an open line of communication regarding payment and your financial situation. Luckily, most dental discount and insurance plans will help with the cost of braces, but make yourself aware of your plan's inclusions. And payment plans (installment payments) may be available to you as well. 08