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Braces for adults

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Braces aren't just for teenagers. There's no age limit for getting a perfect smile in fact there's a growing trend for adults to have orthodontic work.

Orthodontics is basically the movement of teeth within your mouth using braces. They can straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth. Braces can also close gaps in teeth and also correct your bite so that your top and bottom sets of teeth meet correctly when you close your mouth.

Orthodontist Dr Richard George speaks for the British Orthodontic Society. He says: "Most orthodontists have seen a significant rise in adults having braces in the last 5 to 10 years. Anecdotally 50% of my patients are adults at the moment and several are in their 60s and 70s."

Image credit: Thinkstock/Rasulovs

Why have braces?

There are many reasons for deciding to have braces as a grown up. You may not have had them as a teen and feel the time is right now. It may be the case that you've always been self-conscious about the appearance of your teeth but haven't had the money to fix them.

The decision could have been prompted by getting a new job or ahead of a wedding or big birthday when you want to look your best. It may be a parent who's learned about the benefits of orthodontic treatment while taking her children to their appointments and decided to have them too.

Dr George says: "The reason for having the work is mainly cosmetic, there's a heightened awareness of how people look these days as more photos and selfies are taken."

Gail from Solihull who's in her 40s has braces on her upper and lower teeth.

"I had braces as teenager but, because this was the early 80s, they didn't give me a retainer at the end to keep the teeth in place. I felt that over the years my teeth had moved out again. I began to notice more adults with braces and I spoke to a couple of women I knew who had had braces in their 40s. Both were positive about the experience and this made me decide to consult an orthodontist."

Can all adults have braces?

If your teeth and gums are healthy enough there's no age limit to orthodontics.

We are keeping our teeth for much longer than in past generations. so people are deciding to make the most of what they've got if at all possible.

"One of the problems in adults is gum disease, you have to be careful teeth are stable and in a good condition before treatment," says Dr George. "Orthodontic work is sometimes done with restorative dentistry -for example, if an implantologist needs teeth moved, the two processes will be done together."

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