Rebecca Lewis enjoys her visits to the UNC School of Dentistry to get her braces adjusted.
"You know, I always wanted them when I was younger, but we couldn't afford them. But with me, I had bottom teeth that was crowded and causing a problem," said Lewis.
Dr. Sylvia Frazier-Bowers, an assistant professor of orthodontics at UNC, said the numbers of adults who turn to braces to correct problems like crooked teeth are increasing.
"If you want to maintain both the aesthetics and function of your teeth and the fact that we're keeping our teeth longer, then you're never too old to get braces," said Frazier-Bowers.
However, many of the adults who want braces do not want others to know they have them. Instead of traditional stainless steel brackets, Lewis chose clear porcelain.
"I always liked the thought of being able to smile and (other people) not see that I had anything in my mouth", said Lewis.
For some patients, clear trays, molded to the shape of your teeth, do the job instead of brackets and wire. They are fabricated to corrective versions of your teeth.
As the position of the teeth is corrected, new trays are made to continue the progress. However, the trays only work for some patients. More severe corrections require the traditional approach of brackets and wire.
Frazier-Bowers said, unlike most children, adults often come with other dental problems like gum disease. She said those problems must be addressed before braces can be applied.
Lewis' eight-month experience with braces has been problem-free. In another month, they will come off. Afterwards, she plans on smiling a lot and eating some fruit.
"I miss biting into an apple. That's the first thing that I'm going to do, is bite into an apple," she said.
Most dental insurance plans do help with the cost of orthodontic work for adults.
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