Looking for something to share with your grandkids? Have you thought about braces?
No kidding. Increasingly, grandparents are finding that sharing the braces experiences with their teenage grandchildren. In fact, The American Association of Orthodontics has estimated that more than 1 million adults have braces now, meaning that about one in five patients with braces is an adult.
Truth is, Americans are living longer, and they’re taking better care of their teeth. And for many, that includes getting dental care and treatment they didn’t decades earlier. It’s never too late to improve dental health and hygiene.
In the past, dentures were a sad inevitability for many seniors. Poor dental care led to tooth loss, and that, in turn, led to dentures. But people live longer today (according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control, average life expectancy in 1962 was 70.1; today, it’s 78.2) and with longer life spans, we find that many seniors are becoming proactive in their dental care. As a result, we’re seeing more of wear braces to correct a variety of age-related tooth problems.
Braces were once reserved for just teens and pre-teens, but now dentists are seeing more and more adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s ask for information about braces.
“I had a patient in her 70s who got braces,” said Dr. James Wells of South Charlotte Dentistry in Charlotte, N.C. “She said it was the best thing she ever did.”
Wells said he finds that more of his senior patients ask about braces every year.
“Some people just couldn’t afford it when they were younger. Some people just didn’t get the dental care they needed at the time,” Well said. “And now, instead of just saying, ‘It’s too late,’ they’re deciding to go for the smile they have always wanted.”
Braces aren’t just for cosmetic purposes. Many patients who are show signs of gum disease find relief with braces. Badly aligned teeth that are straightened will result in less crowding around the teeth and can alleviate swollen, reddened gums.
A patient in his 50s could well live another 40 years, Wells said, adding that correcting tooth problems through braces is a much better option than pulling teeth and living with dentures for decades, he said.
Crooked teeth are not only unsightly, but over a period of time, they can become increasingly hard to clean effectively. Correctly aligned teeth can make issues such as speech and chewing difficulty, jaw problems, improper bite and excessive wear on tooth enamel disappear.
Patients who correct lifelong dental issues find that their confidence increases. Many say they wish they had done it years before.
Traditionally, braces are made of stainless wire, but today, there are other options. Ceramic braces or the custom-made, removable Invisalign product provide other choices for patients. The choice depends on dentist recommendation and a patient’s budget.
Braces are not for every older adult or every situation, but they can solve many dental issues. Talk to Dr. Wells or a member of the South Charlotte Dentistry staff for details.