Teeth Straightening as an Adult vs. During Childhood

You’re not alone if you think of straighter teeth mostly as a cosmetic concern. But crooked and misaligned teeth come with their own set of problems, from an increased risk of tooth decay to jaw or neck pain. 

You may associate orthodontic care only with teens, but advances in orthodontic technology and treatment have more and more adults seeking treatment to straighten their teeth. At Millennium Park Orthodontics in Chicago, more than half of our patients who see Dr. Howard E. Spector are adults. 

It’s never too late for a more dazzling smile, but there are some differences between teeth straightening in adults versus during childhood. 

Not so fast

With so many advances in orthodontic care, getting straighter teeth is a lot faster. With some treatments, you can get a new smile in a year. However, for adults, the process may take a little longer.

Because you’re no longer growing, you may need additional treatments, such as surgery, to accomplish your orthodontic goals. Plus, your teeth may require a little more time adjusting to their new position during the orthodontic process. While the time you need to reach your smile goals depends on many factors, on average it may take adults about two years. 

Your aging teeth

In addition to the extra time you may need to get your teeth into a better position, adults may also require special treatments to take care of issues that aren’t as common during childhood. For example, if you have gum disease, we may need to first take care of that before we can start your orthodontic treatment. 

Bone loss is also an issue that may affect the length of your treatment and your orthodontic options. We also need to take into consideration the adequacy of the blood supply to your teeth and roots. 

If you’re seeking orthodontic care to improve your overbite, you may need to have teeth extracted in order to make room for the movement. It’s also possible that your overbite has worsened with time due to the wearing away of your teeth.

Children may not have these same oral health issues, which may allow a more straightforward treatment plan. 

Many teeth straightening options

Despite some of the extra orthodontic needs for adults, when it comes to straightening your teeth, you have more options now as an adult then you probably had during childhood. Some of the adult teeth straightening systems we offer here at Millennium Park Orthodontics include:


If you’re looking for a discreet teeth straightening system, then Invisalign® may be the right choice for you. This system uses a series of removable clear aligners that slowly and gently move your teeth into position. 

Traditional braces

Traditional braces include the metal brackets and wires that help reposition your teeth with regular adjustments every six weeks or so. 

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces are similar to traditional braces. However, the brackets and wires more closely match the color of your teeth so they’re less noticeable. 

Lingual braces 

Instead of the front of your teeth, lingual braces, which include metal brackets and wires, go on the back of your teeth so no one can see them. With lingual braces, we have you come to the office every six weeks for adjustments.

When it comes to straightening your teeth, you have many options. Dr. Spector works one-on-one with you to determine the system that makes the best choice based on your specific oral health needs.  

To schedule a consultation to discuss your orthodontic options, call us at Millennium Park Orthodontics at 312-726-9528. You can also send us a message here on our website. 

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