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Am I too old for braces?

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Derek Lotts, a reader from Australia, first started researching dental health because of challenges his father was experiencing. Derek continued the research in order to reach out to people and share experiences and tips. Here are his helpful findings.

This is a question a lot of us senior citizens ask. When we think of braces our most frequent association is with youngsters and teenagers and we feel as if it is too late for us to consider wearing them, even though we are perfectly aware that we could benefit from doing so. On the contrary, there is no reason why seniors should not consider wearing one, especially when serious health or cosmetic reasons are in question.

My father’s story

As a matter of fact, my father came across similar problems. He never wanted to talk about his teeth. He came to an age where he considered tending to his crooked teeth to be redundant. This often seems to be the case with elderly people.

Under my father’s tough attitude lay embarrassment about the appearance of his teeth. When I finally confronted him, he admitted being ashamed of his teeth but he felt that old people do not need to worry about the aesthetics of teeth.

His stubbornness was not great, but his stance “to leave it alone” told me to back away for the time being. I let him be. However, I started researching everything about dental care for seniors.

When I found out that improper dental care in seniors may lead to other health issues, I decided it was time to visit the dentist. I told my father: “At least, do it for me,” although I have to say, the nudging came mostly from my mother. I even went to the check-up with him.

The diagnosis was a bit devastating for my father’s ego. Fortunately, he did not have any serious problems but he needed to wear braces. Though his crooked teeth could have easily led to cross bites, the condition did not deteriorate up to that point. In the end, he admitted the entire situation was not so bad. So I’m here to tell everyone who gets older: you should not be afraid nor ashamed.

Health reasons

If your teeth are misaligned or in a cross bite, that increases the chance of food remaining and building up between them. This results in plaque buildup which in turn creates a higher chance of dental caries, periodontal disease or gum disease. Any of these problems are certainly something that should be avoided at all cost.

Increased dental hygiene is always recommended, but is not necessarily sufficient in these instances since crooked teeth are hard to clean properly, no matter how hard you try.

Furthermore, improper bite often leads to damaging of your underlying bone structure and even causes gastrointestinal problems if food can’t be chewed properly, which can trigger other serious health issues. Therefore, the only permanent solution for this would be straightening your teeth.

Statistically, life expectancy is increasing steadily and there is no reason, however old you are, not to live as healthy as possible for as long as possible. This is closely connected to the health of your teeth and bite.

Aesthetic reasons

We all want to look as beautiful as possible, regardless of our age. Let us be honest, we want to look as young as possible when we get to a certain age. And there is nothing more beautiful and inviting than a lovely smile.

Having a beautiful smile is a great self confidence builder. My father can testify to that. Although he is still wearing braces, the improvement is already visible. Now he does not want to admit that he was afraid. He says it is not that big of a deal. I guess that is normal.

Anyway, aesthetic benefits are equally important for a personal life. If an older person is going out, meeting new people and looking for a new partner, then having a nice smile will certainly improve their chances of finding one. Improved self-confidence is very often a key factor here and sends a strong message to potential partners. Not to mention that healthy and good looking teeth are very “kiss inviting”.

Of course my mother was not bothered by my father’s teeth. She loved him anyway. But it is the feeling of taking your life into your hands and doing something for your health. Everyone can feel better. As my father did.

Types of braces

There are several types of braces available. The four major types are metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual braces, and nearly invisible braces such as Invisalign. All of them have their positive and negative aspects and the safest thing would be to consult your orthodontist.

In my father’s conversation with his orthodontists in Sydney, he found out that the differences between types of braces is not purely material and that of appearance. Furthermore, the right choice has a strong influence on the outcome. The orthodontist said to my father: “If you want better results, you need to use metal braces.” Although my father wanted to be up-to-date and wear invisible braces, the cost and the limitations were overwhelming. We were told that the invisible braces do not do a good job on vertical corrections. I have to say, metal braces are not ugly. It is the awareness that something is constantly visible on your teeth that makes people too self-aware. So the choice in the end was clear - he went with the traditional braces.

To sum up, no, it is never too late for braces. Leading a healthy and fulfilled life is not age limited. After all, you are as old as you feel and look. How has this influenced my life choices? Well, I now know more about dental care. I intend to do right by my teeth and take care of them properly. If it ever comes to the point that I also need braces, I will look up to my father and be as brave as he is.

Derek’s father received orthodontic advice and treatment in Australia. Find out more about orthodontics in the UK here. If you have tips or experiences about dental treatment later in life, do let us know in the comments below.

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