While braces are typically associated with kids and teens, more and more adults are seeking orthodontic care later in life to improve their confidence and overall dental health. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in four orthodontic patients is an adult. One explanation for the recent surge in older patients seeking braces may be related to the COVID-19 pandemic, says Dr. Mickey Samra of Samra Orthodontics in Stockton. “Historically, my office has been mostly kids, but 2020 was the first year when it actually flipped and I was treating more adult patients than kids,” observes Dr. Samra. “The thing I heard time and time again was, ‘I’m going to be at home or wearing a mask in public anyways, so why not do this now?’”
For adult patients, Dr. Samra recommends considering your personal goals and lifestyle when choosing which kind of orthodontic treatment plan is right for you. There are two main options available for adult patients who wish to correct their teeth alignment concerns: traditional, metal braces or Invisalign. While Invisalign is very popular with older patients who oppose metal braces for aesthetic reasons, strict self-discipline is required to see results with this method. “Some people have the commitment and the compliance required to wear these trays diligently for 20 or more hours a day. If you have that ability, Invisalign is a great solution,” says Dr. Samra. Additionally, Invisalign allows patients to avoid food restrictions and maintain their regular diet. “With Invisalign, you can take off your trays, eat whatever you desire, and then you put them on after you’re done eating,” Dr. Samra explains.
However, despite the many benefits of Invisalign, traditional braces remain the best option for younger patients. “The preferred method for adolescents is braces because it’s hands-off. It’s always on the teeth and working,” Dr. Samra says. Children should be evaluated for braces when they are around seven years old—that’s when they typically have a combination of adult teeth and baby teeth, which allows orthodontists to intervene if needed. “If there are severe skeletal imbalances or jaw issues, we can get involved and help,” shares Dr. Samra. However, if there are no serious development concerns, treatment typically begins a little later on, when children are 12 or 13.
That being said, no one is ever too old to seek out orthodontic care. “The oldest patient I’ve treated so far was a 96-year-old lady, so I don’t think there is any age where it’s not possible to proceed with orthodontic treatment,” Dr. Samra ensures. “There are so many options out there. It’s just about picking the one that’s suitable for that person and what fits their lifestyle.”
1110 W. Robinhood Dr., Stockton