As an adult suffering from crooked teeth, jutting jaws or bucktooth, the idea of braces is simultaneously appealing and mortifying but can help improve oral health.
While the stigma surrounding braces pervades even today, new procedures and techniques are minimising the more ‘unsightly’ elements and driving up the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment annually. Even celebrities like Tom Cruise, Barbara Walters and Cameron Diaz opted to correct their smiles well into their acting careers.
According to Dr Colleen Forsberg, a Pretoria-based orthodontist and member of the South African Society of Orthodontists (SASO), almost 20% of their patients consist of adults who are benefiting from the advantages of orthodontic treatment. “There have been significant advancements in orthodontics and the prominent metal ‘Jaws’ braces are a thing of the past,” she says.
“However, many adults are still apprehensive about the impact orthodontics will have on their physical appearance during the treatment and how it will affect their interactions with others. Another concern is the time associated with the treatment. Fortunately, there are a number of new techniques that address these very concerns.”
A popular new option is lingual orthodontics — simply put, it’s where the braces are placed on the back of your teeth, rather than the front. “As a result, the braces are completely hidden from view. It’s a more technically involved procedure and more expensive, but one that most adults find very appealing,” Forsberg confirms.
Another favourite is ceramic (tooth coloured) self-ligating brackets, which eliminate the need for obvious elastic ligatures and prominent metal brackets.
And for those for whom time is everything, new procedures like ‘Wilckodontics’ — a combination of surgical procedures and traditional orthodontics — can give you straight teeth in six to twelve months.
“More importantly, the image of orthodontics and the prominent individuals who have sought orthodontic treatment in their adult life have lent a growing acceptance of orthodontics as a means of improving ones appearance and confidence,” Forsberg emphasises.
“A common complaint of many adults is that their parents were unable to afford braces when they were younger — when they are financially able they seek treatment as they realise that the benefits of a pleasing smile are improved social acceptance and self-esteem. Adults are usually motivated and are more likely to follow the necessary hygiene procedures to care for braces.”
Visit www.saso.co.za to locate your nearest accredited orthodontist.