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All Posts in Category: Braces

Do you want a smile like Tom Cruise? It’s never too late

If I say “Tom Cruise,” what first springs to mind? His flawless white teeth, perhaps? Well, if so, it may surprise you to learn that Thomas Cruise Mapother the Fourth (yes, that’s his real name) wasn’t born with a perfect smile. He saw an orthodontist.

Apparently, Mr Cruise’s teeth used to be pretty bad, and he was spotted wearing braces as recently as 2002. Actually, lots of ‘beautiful people’, including Nicholas Cage, Gwen Stefani and Faith Hill, have seen an orthodontist as adults in pursuit of that ‘perfect smile.’

So, where am I heading with this post? Well, you don’t have to be born with perfect teeth to make significant improvements.

A confident smile

Studies show that people are actually more likely to succeed in their personal and professional lives if they have good teeth. Why? Well, Tom Cruise knows it, you know it, I know it; we are judged by our looks.

As unfair as this may be, people make assumptions. That’s human nature. For example, if your lower teeth protrude, you may be perceived as aggressive; if there’s a gap between your top-front teeth, people may think you’re not too clever.

Of course, when it comes to success (or lack of it) it’s possible that self-perception plays a big part —when we project confidence, people are more likely to have confidence in us.

It’s never too late

These days, if you want to improve your teeth, there’s not much stopping you. As celebrities, like Tom Cruise, show, orthodontic treatment isn’t reserved for teenagers. You’re never too old. At Turner Lim, we’ve treated patients in their 60s!

Teeth move

Some adults come to us with crooked teeth, despite having worn braces when they were younger. This may seem strange, but it’s understandable. Teeth move over time, and 20 – 30 years ago, many orthodontists didn’t instruct their patients to wear retainers post treatment — they didn’t think they were necessary. However, we now know that retainers prevent teeth from moving back to their original positions once braces have been removed.

Is treatment expensive?

Orthodontic treatment isn’t as expensive as you might think. Depending on your budget, there are several options available, and most orthodontists offer payment plans.

Braces can be discrete

Of course, as an adult, you’re probably concerned about how you will look with braces. The good news is that you needn’t look like ‘Metal Micky’. Modern braces are not as conspicuous as they used to be. Invisalign®, for example, uses aligners that are almost invisible, and ceramic braces are made of translucent material and use tooth-coloured wires.

In reality, an orthodontist may not be able to make your teeth quite as perfect as Tom Cruise’s. However, they can get pretty close.

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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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