“I can smile. I feel like smiling.”
That is often the reaction of adults who have finished with braces, says Dr. Peter Gold from Orthodontics for Adults in Toronto.
With many custom-designed and computer-generated options these days, more and more grown-ups are getting their teeth moved and improved, says Dr. Gold, who specializes in braces for adults.
“There has been an increase in the number of adults getting braces over the last 10 to 15 years,” says Dr. Gold, who has been practising in mid-town Toronto for 30 years.
In particular, these days more men are embracing braces. “It makes sense. They are maintaining their vitality and strength and looking after their health. They go to the gym. They are not over the hill. They feel good and they want to look good.”
Braces can reverse problems such as crowding, protruding, crookedness, a big space between the teeth, an overbite, or an underbite.
You’re never too old for braces, believes Dr. Gold. “My oldest patient was 82 and her teeth moved just fine.” He also sees many patients, both men and women, in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. “They have some income and are able to make their own decisions. Not everyone had the opportunity for braces when they were children.”
Braces have changed a lot since the days when the only option was metallic train tracks and little yellow elastics. Invisalign is one of the new developments. In this treatment, computer-designed aligners are placed over the teeth. They are like horseshoe-shaped trays, and they are clear. Invisalign is particularly good for moderate problems or tweaking, says Dr. Gold. “It is comfortable, doesn’t show and you can take it out for special occasions.”
Clear braces are another option. They blend in with the natural colour of the teeth, so they aren’t as noticeable as metal braces.
Inside braces — which are now computer-designed — are invisible from the outside.
Adults who go for braces these days will probably see a 3D computer simulation of how they will look when the treatment is finished. “Braces used to be one-size-fits-all,” says Dr. Gold. “More and more, we have custom solutions for each patient. Instead of braces being off-the-shelf, they are tuned for each person.”
Orthodontic procedures for adults can take anywhere from six months to — in extremely complicated cases — three years. Typically, treatment takes between six and eighteen months. Cost varies tremendously, says Dr. Gold, and can range anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 if the patient has a severe problem and needs surgery.
The benefits of braces include looking younger, prolonging the life of your teeth, and in some cases actually improving the functioning of the mouth. Adult patients are a pleasure to treat, says Dr. Gold. “They’re motivated, they brought themselves here, they are paying, and they are very compliant.”