Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Braces at 50?

I'm back from my week-long course, and with a lot of backlogs to clear out of the way, I have to spend almost another week till I can squeeze in my posting.

So here goes. Firming up or wellness knows no age limit, doesn't it?

Read on...

By Eveline Gan, TODAY | Posted: 01 February 2011

SINGAPORE - When her 20-year-old daughter decided to get braces last year, Madam Tay J M accompanied her to the clinic. By the end of the orthodontic appointment, Mdm Tay decided that like her daughter, she wanted to get her teeth fixed too. Never mind that she was 52 years old.

"I like beautiful teeth. A nice set of teeth will help to boost my self-confidence," said Mdm Tay, who works as a secretary. "My teeth jut out slightly and they've yellowed over the years. At first I thought of only whitening them but I thought why not just go the whole way? Hopefully, I will have many more good years to go."

Mdm Tay now wears the Invisalign, a type of clear braces which are removable at mealtimes and during brushing.

At an age when some of her peers are already wearing dentures, Mdm Tay is rather self-conscious about her braces. This is why she opted for more "visually discreet" braces.

Orthodontic specialists, however, said patients like Mdm Tay are not a rarity. Once associated only with children and teens, braces are now becoming increasingly popular with adults seeking orthodontic treatment at a later age.

At I.Dental Surgeons, more than a third of those seeking orthodontic treatment are above the age of 30.

"It is not uncommon to see 40 to 50-year-olds straightening their teeth nowadays, compared to five years ago, when most of our patients were in their teens and early 20s," said dental surgeon Dr Cheng Eng Wah, principal partner and founder of I.Dental, who estimated the increase to be about 15 to 20 per cent in the past five years.

At Dr Cheng's clinic, adults like Mdm Tay tend to opt for "more aesthetically pleasing braces" such as Invisalign or ceramic braces with transparent brackets, rather than regular metal braces.

Depending on the individual's condition, the treatment costs with regular metal braces start from S$2,800 onwards, while treatment with Invisalign start from S$6,500 onwards.

Investing in the perfect smile

The trend is driven by people's "willingness to invest in aesthetics", as society becomes more affluent, Dr Cheng said.

"I think people are more aware of how a nice smile can improve their appearance and the way they present themselves. Beautiful teeth are part of what builds confidence, especially when interacting socially or professionally," he added.

Aesthetics aside, having a full set of straight teeth has its health benefits.

"For instance, properly aligned teeth have a lower risk of decay compared to 'overcrowded' teeth, as brushing and cleaning are easier with straight teeth," explained Dr Cheng.

Associate Professor Kelvin Foong, a senior consultant at the National University Hospital's department of preventive dentistry, said with the ageing population keeping their teeth longer, more complex rebuilding of the dentition could require braces to align the teeth before wearing prostheses such as crowns, implants and dentures.

At his clinic in NUH, Assoc Prof Foong's oldest patient was a 65-year-old who required minor tooth rearrangement using braces, before getting a new set of dentures.

While it is ideal to treat certain orthodontic conditions such as cross-bite and deviated jaw before the child reaches puberty, the experts said there isn't a "cut-off" age for getting braces. So you could be pushing 70 and still be able to get braces without harming your oral tissues.

Braces work by delivering light force to the crown of the tooth. The tooth moves to another position, when bone surrounding its root reorganises itself under pressure from the light force, explained Assoc Prof Foong.

"If a person's teeth are supported by healthy gums and bone, then it is possible to move teeth from one position to another within each jaw bone," he said.

Not for everyone

There are certain adults who are unsuitable for braces treatment.

Assoc Prof Foong cautioned those above the age of 40 who have untreated moderate to advanced gum disease, as well as medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes and heavy smokers against getting braces.

Those who take medications that affect the flow of saliva, such as high blood pressure medication, also should not get braces. He explained that having braces in a dry mouth gives rise to the risk of tooth decay.

Six months into her orthodontic treatment, Mdm Tay has become used to wearing braces.

"The first month was the most difficult but I could bear the pain quite well. Right now, I almost forget they are there in my mouth," she said, laughing.

Mdm Tay feels her trouble, effort and money will be well worth it in the end, when her braces finally come off and she can partake in celebrations with a bigger and brighter smile.

- TODAY/rl

Taken from; source article is below:
Braces at 50?

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