You're never too old for a prettier smile. That seems to be the growing consensus among older adults who are opting for braces.
Paying for braces isn't just the domain anymore of parents taking care of their kids' orthodontia. An increasing number of adults are willing to pay the price tag for their own dental good looks.
According to a July 4, 2011 article on LATimes.com, more than 1 million adults were outfitted with braces in 2008, an increase of about 25 percent since 1989. These statistics were reported from the American Association of Orthodontics.
Some folks have just decided that enough is enough. They've lived with less than perfect teeth all their lives and they don't want to do it anymore.
There are reasons other than aesthetics for adults to go for braces.
Permanent teeth may not stay in a permanent position as we age. Your teeth can shift in position because of a few different causes.
Jaw bone density can decrease, and general wear and tear can make those teeth move. Even people who had braces in their teens are not immune to teeth moving and becoming out of alignment.
Teeth that are crowded are harder to clean. Teeth that are out of alignment are targets for a greater buildup of plaque. This makes you more vulnerable to gum disease.
Straightening will correct the spacing of your teeth in your mouth and make for better oral hygeine. This can include less tooth decay, healthier gums and less erosion to your teeth.
If you have a bad bite that has been causing pain in your jaws, getting braces can be an important step on the road to relief.
And you don't have to look like a teenager with the old school tin grin or metal mouth.
Braces come in ceramic which is less visible than the braces of yesteryear. Wires are behind the teeth rather than across the front for all to see.
Clear braces are less noticeable except that they can become stained by smoking and drinking dark liquids like coffee.
You can get plastic aligners that fit over the teeth rather than the traditional railroad track effect. Invisalign involves use of clear plastic trays to move the teeth.
Invisalign trays are clear and removable, shifting teeth without wire or metal trappings. Aligners are custom-tailored to your mouth, and each one is in place for two weeks.
After two weeks, the aligner is replaced with another one that will carry on the job of shifting the position of your teeth. This process can take anywhere for just a few months to about 18 months.
One difference between adult teeth and children's is that it can take longer for an adult's teeth to be moved by braces. But they will move.
An orthodontist in Atlanta, Ga., Michael Sebastian, D.D.S., said that it can take on average a year to 20 months for an adult to have their teeth straightened by braces.
For those who want to get their braces on and off in the shortest amount of time, Sebastian recommended metal braces.
An increasing number of dental plans will cover some or all of your orthodontic work.
Braces? At My Age? WebMD.com. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2012.
Braces are for grown-ups too. LATimes.com. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2012.
Straight Talk About Braces for Adults.WebMD.com. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2012.
Reviewed October 29, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN