New Beginnings: The Increasing Popularity of Adult Orthodontics by Daniel Cassarella, D.M.D., MS “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot In the past ten years, adult orthodontics has experienced increased popularity in the YOUR
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United States. Many people are surprised to find out that adults comprise between 20 and 30 percent of all orthodontic patients. The reason for this new trend is multifactorial. Many adult patients have been drawn to orthodontic treatment through education from general dentists, other dental specialists, and organizations like the American Association of Orthodontists. The aforementioned pool of patients discovered that excellence in oral health and smile esthetics in many cases are achieved in part through orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics is typically only one brief stopping point on the life-long road to opti®
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mal oral health. Advances in technology make undergoing orthodontic treatment as an adult much more rewarding than in the past. Among these advances are treatment without traditional braces (computer simulated treatment and fabrication of sequential clear aligners) and highly esthetic (clear) braces. Some technologies have allowed for longer intervals between appointments, a great convenience to an adult patient with a busy lifestyle. The clinician meets a different set of challenges when planning the treatment for an adult patient. I enjoy the detailed process of diagnosing and treating adult patients. It is humbling to observe the desire adults demonstrate to improve their oral health and self confidence. Adult orthodontic patients are typically the most motivated and compliant patients in the office, because they have actively sought treatment and are sacrificing precious time to make an improvement in their own health. Accordingly, adult patients have high expectations for a smooth treatment experience with excellent results. Meeting or exceeding these expectations is the challenge that I enjoy most of all. The reward of helping an adult patient make a significant improvement in his or her health is a feeling that is second to none. Many parents of our adolescent and teenage patients ask if it is too late to pursue orthodontic treatment for themselves. As George Eliot said “it is never too late to be what you might have been.” We take a great deal of pride in being able to assist adults in this process. P