The desire for straight teeth grows ever popular – according to a survey conducted by the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics in 2013, adults made up 23% of all orthodontic patients, compared with 10% 15 years earlier.
This increasing popularity for teeth-straightening treatments is based on varied and numerous reasons – not least of which is the need for a confidence boost, especially for those of us who have suffered with a crooked smile for too long.
Teeth can move, or drift, as we get older and an overcrowded mouth can be awkward to clean. You may have had teeth-straightening treatment as a child or in your teens and, having given up on wearing your retainers years ago, your teeth have moved, or relapsed, into that misaligned smile that your traditional braces – and orthodontist – worked so hard to straighten! Dentists commonly refer to those of us now seeking braces in adult life, having ditched our retainers at the earliest possible moment, as ‘re-treats’ – second-time around brace wearers all regretting that we were at an age when we thought we knew better. We didn’t…
A survey recently revealed that 54% of women feel so self-conscious about their teeth that are considering braces or whitening treatments.
And, for those of us who have reached an age where we are beyond feeling comfortable wearing traditional fixed braces – or ‘train tracks’ as they are affectionately known – today’s more aesthetically acceptable options, such as clear brackets, removable aligners or near invisible braces placed behind the teeth (lingual braces), offer a happy solution.
For women aged 25 to 34 years old, these teeth straightening treatments are booming in the popularity stakes, especially as they can be quick, discreet and increasingly affordable.
But orthodontics isn’t just having a great smile – whilst straight teeth can make a difference to your appearance, they can also improve your bite and your overall oral health.
So, aside from a passion to perfect a smile, what other reasons might there to have braces?
Well, for some adults, gum problems and shrinkage can cause teeth to become loose and move. Also, bad breath can also indicate a need to straighten a smile because wonky teeth or an overcrowded mouth can prove tricky to clean – even for the most fastidious of us. With nearly 45% of people having a degree of crowding, this is the most common reason for adults to embark on treatment. In some cases, extractions are necessary to create space to align the teeth.
Closing spaces in a gappy smile – often left this way because teeth are small or adult teeth don’t come through – is another reason, or you simply might need teeth moved to actually create a gap for a dental implant to be fitted.
If teeth protrude, it may be a good idea to have a brace to pull them in from in front of the lips – sticky out teeth run the risk of damage should you have a fall, an accident or a sports injury.
If your upper and lower teeth are not meeting at the front, this may causes discomfort or difficulty when eating or damage can occur if your upper teeth close too far over the lower teeth. The lower teeth biting into the back of the upper teeth may lead to wear and potentially damage to the gums, which may need repair, and a crossbite can wear away the tips of teeth if they clash awkwardly.
Ideally, your front teeth should cover around 30% of your lower teeth, with the upper teeth sitting 2-3mm in front of the lowers. Additionally, the central point of the upper and lower teeth should form a vertical line and you should feel your back teeth interlock in a comfortable bite.
Whatever the reason for seeking a solution
to a misaligned smile, one thing is for certain, whatever teeth-straightening
option you choose, braces can make a huge difference to our happiness, our
confidence and our well-being.
About our dentist - Dr Biju Krishnan
Dr Biju Krishnan has published in many international journals and recently authored the first book on cosmetic orthodontics. He is on the board of the British Academy of Restorative Dentistry and the editorial board of the journal Aesthetic Dentistry Today.