In the last few years there has been considerable interest in braces for adult patients. A recent survey conducted by American Association of Orthodontists showed an increased in the percentage of patients over 21 years of age from a fraction more than 4% ten years ago to almost 7% today. Nearly 11% is expected after another decade.
There is no definite age when the male or the female reaches physical maturity and it is therefore impractical to try to determine exactly when adulthood begins. Since an adult is defined as one who’s fully grown, most male of 18 or 19 and most females of 16 can be considered adults.
Reasons for Increase in Adult Patients
The percentage of adult patients who have received orthodontic treatment has increased significantly in the last decade. From 1970 to 1990, an 800% increase in adult patients was observed.
The surge in the number of adult patients in the past few years has undoubtedly been due to decreased number of child patients with the recent explosion of child focus in the field of preventive dentistry. Harvey G. Barrer observed that the child population is decreasing and that the number of orthodontists is expanding. At the same time we find a rise in the number of adult consultations. The reservoir of adult orthodontics is large because of many who couldn’t get treatment two or three decades ago.
The increasing number of adults requiring or requesting orthodontic treatment can also be ascribed to:
- Innovations in appliances, especially the advent of direct bonding, ceramic brackets and tooth-colored wires have caught the attention of many adults who would not otherwise seek orthodontic treatment.
- Improved appliance placement techniques. The latest development is Lingual Orthodontics or invisible orthodontics, which may shortly be a proven technique.
- Increased experience with adult orthodontic treatment and the achievement of good results.
- Increased public awareness of the possibilities of adult treatment.
- Increased desire of patients and restorative dentists for treatment of dental mutilation problems, using tooth movement and fixed restorations rather than removable prosthesis.
- More sophisticated and successful management of the symptoms associated with joint dysfunction.
- More effective management of skeletal jaw dysplasias, using advanced orthognathic surgical techniques.
With the ever changing times, the adult has awakened to the benefits of orthodontics. His or her increased social and business activity has made him or her aware of visible esthetic short comings, growing personal affluence and access to third party participation has put him in reach of treatment previously difficult to obtain but now readily available.
Business persons are aware that their teeth are part of how professional they are perceived by clients and company management.
The increased demand for adult orthodontics today can also be ascribed to the following factors:
- Media – Numerous articles in magazines and newspapers, as well as advertising by dentists increase public awareness.
- Insurance – Third party payment for patients of other phases of dental care can make funds available for adult orthodontics which is only occasionally covered by insurance.
- Affluence – Total dental treatment is more acceptable in today’s adults because they can afford it.
- Family dentist awareness – The family dentist is more aware of the problems of bite and the role of proper teeth alignment in enhancing restorative dentistry
- Esthetics – Today there is greater awareness of health and appearance. To achieve better facial esthetics, the teeth must be properly aligned, with all missing teeth replaced.