Casting an eye over the waiting room of an orthodontic surgery, one might typically expect to see rows of teenagers, wearing school uniforms and trailing PE kits. However, orthodontic treatment is no longer reserved for the population of your local secondary school. Led by a host of celebrities including Lyndsey Fonseca and Nicholas Cage, adults of all ages are now visiting surgeries and setting off on a journey towards a better smile. So what has changed? Why are increasing numbers of adults seeking treatment, and what are their options?
They may have been put off as teenagers, for fear of playground taunts during their formative years, but many adults are now starting to recognise the multiple rewards that treatment can offer. As well as correcting misaligned teeth and an incorrect bite, orthodontic patients have found that after treatment it is easier to clean the teeth, or speech impediments are vastly improved. In addition, sleep apnoea can become a thing of the past, and teeth grinding reduced. Aside from resolving nagging health problems, many adults have also reported improved self-esteem from having healthier teeth and gums and improved facial structures. Therefore aesthetics aside, orthodontics may have many positive physical and mental health benefits.
So, I hear you ask, is it all about ‘train tracks’ and brightly coloured elastic bands? In a nutshell, no. There are many different options available to adults. In terms of braces, these fall into several categories: fixed appliances (that is, fixed in the mouth), removable appliances (as the name suggests, these are worn at set times), retainers and functional appliances.
The traditional ‘train tracks’ we’re all familiar with are more typically known as ‘conventional braces’, falling under the fixed appliance category. However, there are many more discrete fixed alternatives to this appliance that are very effective. 3M Clarity Ceramic braces are as strong and effective as their metal alternatives. They are translucent and inconspicuous, and do not feature the elastic ligatures to attach the wire of the brace to the brackets. This type of brace is a popular choice for adults. Another highly rated choice is the Incognito Invisible brace which is almost entirely unnoticeable when in use and for most people very comfortable to wear. Incognito braces are attached to the back of your teeth, and feature customised wires and brackets which target specific problem areas.
A popular removable appliance is the Inman Aligner, which has been available in the Ock Street Clinic Abingdon since 2011 and is mainly used to straighten the front teeth in only three months. Clear aligners (for example Invisalign) work in a similar way to braces, but do not feature the commonly seen metal brackets and wires. They are easy to remove at meal times, whilst still working effectively to correct tooth alignment. These are a popular option for those who need the flexibility, but who also wish to improve the appearance of their teeth, and function of their bite.
In short, wearing braces these days no longer means you’ll be sporting a ‘tin grin’ for several years. There are numerous options available which are discreet and very effective. The best place to start is with a consultation with a dentist who has experience in orthodontics, to find out more detail on the options available for your specific problem area. So book that appointment, and get in line to join the likes of Tom Cruise in obtaining your perfect smile.