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All Posts in Category: Braces

Am I too old for dental braces?

Are you an adult thinking about getting dental braces? If so, you’ll be happy to learn that you’re part of a growing trend.

The truth is that you are never too old for braces. At Turner Lim, our oldest patience was about 65 years of age. Overseas, particularly in Scandinavia, it’s not uncommon for people to get braces in their 70s.

Many adults, perhaps due to the cost, were unable to get braces during their teens. Also, some may have actually had nice straight teeth in their youth, which have become crooked later in life. You see, teeth are embedded in bone, and bone changes over time.

Why get braces?

Nice teeth weren’t so important 30 – 40 years ago — look at the “shagedelic” Austin Powers! Today, though, people are more aesthetically aware, and they want to look as good as they can. And fair enough, too!

Thankfully, getting braces is easier than it used to be, and you may be surprised by how affordable orthodontic treatment has become. Braces are also comfortable, smaller and less visible than in days gone by.

So, braces are more affordable and comfortable. But, why go to all the trouble?
Well, having a nice smile is great for your self-confidence — it can even benefit your career and social life, according to studies.

There are health benefits, too. For example, even minor crowding can make it difficult to clean your teeth properly, which can lead to decay and gum disease.

Does treatment differ with older patients?

When treating adults, we aim to keep things simple and treatment times down to a year to a year and a half. As you might expect, adults often have dental issues that younger patients don’t such as missing teeth, severe wear or gum disease. Adults’ facial bones have also stopped growing. So, we modify our treatment accordingly.

Issues preventing getting braces

Gum disease resulting in the loss of bone that supports teeth can cause problems. Though gum disease doesn’t necessary rule out getting braces, it does need to be dealt with before we begin treatment. This is because orthodontic treatment works by moving teeth within the supporting bone.

If you suffer from a medical condition such as leukaemia, diabetes or heart-valve disease, we also recommend that you discuss your condition with your doctor or orthodontist. For example, some patients suffering from cancer or osteoporosis are prescribed bone modifying drugs that affect how teeth move.

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The surprising history of orthodontic braces

A perfect smile. Most of us would like one. And thankfully, thanks to advancements in orthodontics, it’s now easier to achieve than ever before.

The health benefits

Straight teeth give us confidence. Studies have also shown that, unfortunately, people with bite problems are often perceived unfairly.

Of course, looks aren’t everything. Your health matters more. And fixing bite problems can be beneficial to your health. For example, conditions such as crowding can make it difficult to clean your teeth properly. This, can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

The mechanics of modern braces

Braces work by using the principles of basic engineering. Gentle pressure is applied to the periodontal ligament (which holds your teeth in position) to move the teeth where your orthodontist wants them to go. Too much pressure shouldn’t be applied too quickly, so small changes are made about every 30 days. Treatment can take up to three years.

Ancient practices

Modern orthodontics first emerged in 1819 when Christophe-Francois Delabarre invented the crib wire. However, mankind’s quest for straight teeth goes back much farther — right back to ancient times.

The Egyptians

In Egypt, for example, some mummified remains show evidence of early attempts to straighten teeth. Archaeologists have uncovered human remains with animal intestines (catgut) wrapped around the teeth, which resemble the wire used for modern braces.

The Etruscans

The Etruscans resided around Italy between 770 to 270 BC. It seems they too cared about straight teeth — for the dead, at least. During burial, Etruscan women (they didn’t bother with the men) were sometimes fitted with a mouth-guard-like device made of pure gold. This, apparently, prevented teeth collapsing inwards, so the deceased could look ‘fabulous’ as they entered the afterlife.

The Romans

Not to be outdone, ancient Romans also had a device similar to modern braces. While exploring tombs, archaeologists have found many corpses with gold wire (ligature wire) fitted along the teeth to close noticeable gaps.

The first set of braces

The term ‘braces’ was first used officially in the early 1900s. Though named the same, they were quite different to braces of today.

Each tooth was individually fitted with a band, and the materials used for varied. Depending on preference, some dentists used ivory, some used copper and some used zinc. The most popular material was gold because of its flexibility when heated.

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Braces Friendly Snack Ideas

Braces change the way you eat and certain snacks are better suited to eating when in braces than others. Foods to avoid include raw vegetables like carrots or celery and raw fruit like apples or pears; sweets like chewing gum, and caramels or hard lollies. All of these can damage your new set of braces. However, you still have plenty of choices for fun and healthy foods that will not harm your braces.


Healthy Snacks

Fruit is an excellent healthy snack. You just need to avoid biting into hard fruits such as whole apples. You can still eat them if they are cut into smaller pieces or if you choose a softer variety. Citrus fruits are soft to chew and high in vitamin C and calcium. Other soft fruits that won’t cause damage are: bananas, berries, grapes, kiwi fruit and melons. Dairy and whole grain products offer a whole other range of options. Yogurt and cheese go well between meals. A good-old-fashioned peanut butter and jam sandwich or slices of avocado with a bit of sea salt and black pepper on soft toast are all good snack options that don’t require too much chewing.

Sweet Treats

Custards, yoghurt and ice creams provide a sweet and safe snack while you are wearing braces. Just avoid products with nuts! Chocolate and biscuits are ok as long as they aren’t too hard – biscuits dunked in hot Milo or tea are easy on your braces and delicious! It’s still wise to avoid any chewy lollies, sugarless or not, which can stick to and damage the wiring.

Crunchy or Salty Snacks

Not all crunchy foods are bad; you just need to limit the crunch. Walnuts are a softer nut that can normally be eaten safely. Small crackers or potato chips satisfy the need for crunchy and salty. You can also allow pieces to dissolve slightly in your mouth before chewing, to reduce any risk.

Soft muesli bars are also an option. Check the ingredients to ensure they contain no large nut pieces, and brush your teeth afterwards. Otherwise pieces can become stuck in your braces and become very annoying.

What are your favorite snacks while wearing braces?

Please let us know by leaving a comment below!

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