Teeth Straightening: User Journey

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Teeth Straightening: Adult User Journey

Reasons adults decide to straighten their teeth include appearance, access to educational materials and affordability. Some adults have reported wearing braces in adulthood after wearing them as a teenager. Below, relevant findings are highlighted, followed by an outline of the research strategies applied in an attempt to obtain the requested information.

Helpful findings

Research strategy

The research team was unable to determine specifically when and where adults decide they need to straighten their teeth, or specifically what channels they utilize to correct their teeth. We've deployed the following strategies in an attempt to obtain this information:

To start the search, we've scoured healthcare publications such as Healthline and Harvard Health Publishing, hoping to find information on most popular channels among US adults when it comes to teeth straightening, as well as the time and place they decide they need to straighten their teeth. Because these sites offer advice regarding teeth straightening for adults, our idea was that the advices will be supported by hard data or statistics (for example; most adult Americans consult orthodontists when considering teeth correction). Information we've managed to obtain this way surrounded reasons why adults decide to get braces, however no mentions of age or circumstances that affect these decisions were found. Also, while these sources stated people are advised to consult orthodontists and described the process, no explicit statements or information stated how often people consult orthodontics versus manufacturers when informing themselves about the products.

Next, we have turned to searching research databases such as Research Gate, the National Centre for Biotechnology, EBSCO, hoping to find case studies that focus on American adults and their preferences when it comes to teeth straightening. What we hoped to encounter were data-backed studies, preferably based on surveys. Search determined very few surveys focus on the customer segment of the teeth straightening industry. Those studies that did focus on customers were irrelevant to the request because they focused on children, with only brief mentions of increasing demand for teeth alignment services among adults, not going in-depth on where and when they decide to get braces.

As a different approach, we have decided to search statements from US orthodontists themselves, hoping to use their statements as a proxy to create an analysis. The idea behind this strategy was that orthodontists themselves likely know the market itself and might have disclosed this information publicly, either in interviews or on their websites. We've searched websites, interviews and statements from various orthodontists. We have also looked into the American Dental Association, the National Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology, however no relevant information came up. This strategy was partially successful in that we've located statements from orthodontists surrounding the popularity of clear alignment braces versus the traditional ones, however no insights specifically relating to when and where US adults decide and inform themselves to straighten their teeth were found.

As the last resort, the research team has attempted to locate relevant outdated information to answer the query, however, even after looking into studies, reports and statements from as far back as 2012, no information specifically described the requested customer tendencies.
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Teeth Straightening: Teen User Journey

A deep search in the public domain shows that most teenagers decide to get their teeth-straighten when they are between the age of 12 and 16. Depending on the situation of their teeth, some will get traditional braces while others will get clear aligners. Also, the majority of them (80%) visit the orthodontist to get their braces.


  • According to Gorman Bunch Orthodontics, most teenagers decide to straighten their teeth when they are between the age of 12 and 16. This is because their head and mouth are still growing making the straightening of teeth more conducive.
  • According to Wong Dental research, 25% to 50% of teenagers require orthodontics. Also, various statistics reveal that 45% of teenagers need braces to fix very obvious dental problems, while 75% of them need orthodontic care for not so palpable issues.
  • According to the American Association of Orthodontists, patients aged between 12 and 17 years represent over half of the 2,000,000 orthodontic cases in the United States.
  • Teenagers decide to straighten their teeth when personal appearance becomes very important to their peers and to themselves. They undergo this procedure to solve a number of issues such as gaps between teeth, overcrowded teeth, overbites, crossbites, and underbites.
  • Fixing these issues is not only beneficial to their health but can also improve their smile and boost their happiness and confidence levels.
  • Since this procedure may cause adjustments in facial appearance, which can be traumatic to a teen during these sensitive years, parents/guardians are encouraged to advise their children before they undergo this procedure.


  • According to various reputable sources, there are four types of braces for teens. They include metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, and Invisalign teen/clear aligner.

Traditional Braces

  • Traditional braces are made up of brackets that are bonded to each tooth, using a unique dental adhesive, and wires to assist in the reposition of the teeth.
  • These braces are majorly used to treat bite problems.
  • Most teens prefer stainless steel brackets that they can decorate with their favorite colored o-rings which hold the wire to the bracket.
  • With these braces, teens need to visit their orthodontist periodically to check on the progress of the treatment and have wires adjusted.
  • These braces work best for teenagers who have severely crooked teeth or bite misalignments such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Also, they require less self-discipline compared to Invisalign/clear aligners.
  • Some advantages of traditional braces include; Corrects severely crooked teeth and bite misalignments, do certain types of movements superiorly to aligners, have multiple bracket colors, the least expensive teeth straightening option, and they are very accurate in teeth straightening.
  • Some disadvantages of traditional braces include; Brackets can come off from the teeth, wire adjustments can lead to temporary mouth pain, requires strict mouth oral hygiene routine, and certain foods must be limited or avoided.
  • Traditional braces include:

Metal Braces

  • Metal braces are made from metal brackets connected with a thin archwire that pushes and pulls the teeth into the right position slowly.
  • The archwire and brackets are connected using ligatures, also known as elastics or o-rings.
  • These elastics come in different fun colors and the teenager can choose which color he/she wants. These braces are noticeable and do not require as much patient compliance as other braces.

Ceramic (Transparent) Braces

  • Ceramic braces are very similar to metal braces, except the brackets are made from a clear, transparent, ceramic material. This material is much less noticeable than metal brackets.
  • Teenagers who prefer to straighten their teeth in a more discreet manner choose these clear ceramic braces.

Lingual Braces

  • Lingual braces are similar to metal braces, however, they are attached to the back of the teeth, where they cannot be seen at all.
  • These type of braces are not easy to clean since they are behind the teeth. Therefore, they are less preferred among the teens.

Invisalign/Laster Smiles Aligners

  • This method involves the use of clear aligners to move and straighten teeth. It has been used since 1997.
  • Traditionally, Invisalign was only approved for use on adults (also, older teens) to improve their smiles. However, the recent advancements in technology have made this treatment available to teens using Invisalign for Teens.
  • This method is becoming more popular among teens because aligners are virtually invisible, hence, they do not alter someone's appearance. Also, they do not require any adjustments when eating.
  • An aligner can be worn for up two weeks before changing to a new one.
  • The duration and success of this treatment depend on how well patients wear their aligners and follow doctor's instructions.
  • Invisalign is a top brand in aligners.
  • Some advantages of this treatment are; aligners can be removed, no dietary changes needed, nearly invisible when worn, fewer dental appointments are needed, and aligners are custom-fitted for the individual.
  • Some disadvantages of this treatment include; aligners cannot be used to treat severe cases, more expensive than traditional braces, must be worn 22 hours per day, high oral teeth hygiene is needed before inserting aligners, and the treatment duration can be longer if braces are not worn as required (less than 22 hours per day).

Choosing between the clear aligner and traditional braces among teens


  • According to American Association of Orthodontics survey, 4.5 million Americans wear teeth braces, where the majority of them are teenagers.
  • The survey also shows that 80% of teenagers aged between 6 and 18 years visit the ortho to get their teeth braces.
  • However, according to Align Technology, the maker of the brand Invisalign, the sales of Invisalign to teenagers increased from 100,000 to over 235,000 from 2013 to 2017. Invisalign for Teens volume grew faster compared to those of adults.


From Part 02
  • "It’s the ideal age — between 12 and 16 — to start orthodontic treatment because the teeth can be more easily positioned into a straighter smile"
  • "An ideal time for placement of braces is between 10 and 14 years of age, while the head and mouth are still growing and teeth are more conducive to straightening. However, because any adjustments in facial appearance can be traumatic to a child during these sensitive years, parents should discuss the matter with their children before braces are applied."
  • "Most teenagers have teeth straightening treatments during the period of their lives when personal appearance becomes very important to their peers to themselves. "
  • "Here are four standard types of braces that can help correct your teen’s smile."
  • "Then, we'll develop a treatment plan. It may involve regular braces, with or without elastics (rubber bands). We might also recommend that you use a specialized appliance for a period of time. Here are some of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances."
  • "When it comes to straightening your teen’s teeth, there are numerous options available from traditional braces to clear aligners, like Invisalign or the less expensive Laster Perfect Smile system, but how do you choose the right option? The choice you and your teen make will depend on the severity of the condition and personal preferences."
  • "Metal braces: These are the most common type of braces for adolescents and are recognizable by metal brackets placed on the surface of each tooth. Sturdy, flexible wires are threaded through the brackets and tightened in order to gently straighten teeth over time. Teens can have some fun with their metal braces by choosing colored elastic ties to put on the brackets as desired."
  • " The number of youngsters receiving them has quadrupled since the 1960s. An estimated 4.5 million Americans -- most of them children and teenagers -- wear braces on their teeth, according to the American Association of Orthodontics. "
  • "Some statistics even show that while 45 percent of kids need braces to fix very obvious problems, there is approximately a whopping 75 percent of children who need orthodontic care for not so blatant issues."
  • "Align Technology, the maker of the brand Invisalign, reports that from 2013 to 2017 sales of its products for teenagers increased from approximately 100,000 to over 235,000. In the last two years, Invisalign’s volume of teen and tween patients grew faster than that of adults."