Leigh Crymble
2 minute read
21 Nov 2014
1:30 pm

The Lo Down: A reason to smile

Leigh Crymble

If you think that orthodontic braces are just limited to your teenage years: think again.

Picture credit: iStock

Adult braces are gaining traction in South Africa and internationally, more than 20% of orthodontic patients are adults. We chatted to Dr Mark Wertheimer, a Joburg-based specialist orthodontist and Immediate Past President of the South African Society of Orthodontists (SASO), about this growing dental trend.

“In addition to the functional reasons which are important from an overall oral health perspective, there are various aesthetic and cosmetic advantages to getting braces,” begins Dr Wertheimer. “There is abundant research nowadays that shows that people with great smiles are more successful in many spheres of their lives.” This is best reflected in work done by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Their research found that an attractive smile can make an individual appear more intelligent, interesting, successful, and wealthy to others.

A discreet choice

“There are several options when it comes to braces. Apart from the well-known metal braces which are commonly used for adolescents,” Dr Wertheimer says, “Clear ceramic braces and lingual braces (worn on the inside surface of the teeth) are also options for patients and are much more appealing to adults.”

Although it is becoming more socially acceptable to wear braces later in life, there are various treatment options which are less visible. One such option is clear aligner therapy. Ali Shams, owner of Clearpath SA, says that clear orthodontic aligners are immensely popular for adult patients. “This treatment doesn’t involve wearing brackets and wires so is very advantageous in that sense. The costs are, however, significantly higher and not everyone qualifies for this type of treatment so it may not be an option for some.”

In terms of what you can expect to pay for braces, Dr Wertheimer says that the cost varies according to the type of treatment you need. “Ceramic braces are slightly more costly and aligner therapy and lingual appliance therapy are significantly more costly.”

Brace yourself

Although the length of time braces are needed depends on the complexity of the problem, on average treatment takes between 18 and 24 months.

Dr Wertheimer’s final piece of advice? “It is important to be wary of the many ‘quick fix’ products that are being aggressively marketed today. This kind of compromise treatment has its limitations in the long run despite the fact that it may seem appealing.”

“It is never too late to have orthodontic treatment,” adds Dr Wertheimer, “The oldest patient I have treated was 72!” So, for a beautiful smile and potential future success, confidence, and good health, adult braces may be just right for you.

To find out about the treatment options available, visit the official website of The South African Society of Orthodontists for more information. Here, you can find a specialist* orthodontist near you.

*Specialists have completed at least a further three years of full-time study after graduating as dentists in order to qualify as orthodontists.

Leigh is a health and beauty blogger. Follow her on twitter @Le1ghLo or on her blog