Adult Braces – Not Just Kids Stuff
Twenty years ago, it would have been very unusual to see adults wearing braces on their teeth. Not any more, as Carole Pugh discovers.
It's taken a long time for the stigma of dental braces to fade. It started just a few years ago when teenagers began to sport them in ever-growing numbers in pursuit of the American dream for the perfect set of teeth. Wearing braces stopped being an embarrassment and even became something of a fashion statement, particularly when the possibility of colour co-ordination came onto the scene. But still the adult world steered clear of fixing their teeth in this way, haunted by childhood memories of school friends who had no choice in the matter. Until now, that is.
A quiet and unseen revolution has been taking place in the world of adult dentistry since invisible braces made their way onto the UK market just five years ago. In 2003, Patrick Kennedy of Backwell Dental Care tried the newly available braces out on his own teeth before considering whether to recommend them to his patients.
"I would never have considered traditional 'train track' braces for purely cosmetic use," says Patrick, "but I'd always been slightly conscious that my teeth weren't entirely straight. In just over a year - and without a shred of embarrassment - my teeth have been transformed."
Patrick used one of the most popular brands of invisible braces, Invisalign. The braces are particularly popular with people who are interested in improving the overall look of their teeth and have already considered and tried treatments including whitening, veneers and crowns. They work for a wide range of people whose teeth are too crowded or have spaces between them, as well as for those whose teeth may have shifted after having worn braces in their youth.
The treatment begins with a visit to the dentist who will develop a computer model of the required treatment. The computer-generated model means that the whole process is completed faster than with traditional braces because it enables the dentist to optimise the movement, making it quicker and more effective.
At the start of the process, the patient is given a full set of aligners, each one made of thick, clear and virtually invisible plastic. Each aligner is worn for approximately two weeks and is designed to move your teeth into the desired position before moving onto the next in the series. It is recommended that the aligners are worn full-time, day and night, except to eat, brush and floss.
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The whole process can take between 6-18 months, depending on the movement required. At the end of the required time, there is a period of 'retention', which requires them to be worn every night for around six months, after which - apart from the occasional maintenance - all you have to do is to show off a beautiful new smile.
There is very little discomfort attached to the fitting of the aligners. Some people find it mildly uncomfortable for the first 24 hours as each aligner is replaced and settles in, but in the main it is a pain-free process with a highly satisfactory conclusion.
There are so many advantages to invisible braces. Not only can you hardly see them, but they are so much better from a dental hygiene point of view. This is because wearers can easily and quickly slip them off each time they eat, which means that stray bits of food have no chance of fixing themselves to the tracks. In fact, one added and welcome consequence of wearing aligners that have to be removed at each meal is that you may even lose weight! It becomes a very effective way of regulating snacking so that wearers find they not only have beautifully straight teeth, but a svelte figure to match!
For more information on Backwell Dental Care,
17-19 West Town Road, Backwell, Bristol, call 01275 462421 or visit www.smileforlife.co.uk.