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“Am I too old for braces?” This is one of the most common questions orthodontists face. As braces treatment becomes more common and accessible, more adults who did not have the chance to wear braces when they were younger are taking to it.

DOES AGE MATTER?

Braces treatment involves the movement of teeth from one location to another in the jawbone, so as long as the periodontium (the teeth, gum and bone complex) is healthy, age is not an issue.

Since age is a non-issue, and braces have become more acceptable and accessible, it is much more common these days to see adults and senior citizens getting fitted for braces. Some treat it as a family bonding activity, with parents and their children getting treatment together!

APPROPRIATE AGES

So what is the best age for braces? As eruption time and circumstances vary, the ‘best’ time also varies. Here are some guidelines.
  1. 7 years
    This is the age when the first permanent molars and central incisors erupt. It is a good time to look for any disruption or problem with eruption, and plan for interceptive treatment, if needed.
  2. 10 years
    This is the time to look closely at the development of the face and jawbones. If there is a discrepancy in the jawbones, such as when the lower jaw is longer or shorter than normal, then a functional treatment may be needed. Functional treatment aims to promote the potential growth of the individual and guide the growing face and developing dentition toward a pattern of optimal development.
  3. 12–13 years
    At this age, most of the permanent teeth have erupted. Coupled with the achievement of the PSLE milestone, most people will start to have fixed braces treatment.
  4. Adult
    i. Normal braces treatment As long as the gum, teeth and bone are healthy, age is not an issue when it comes to correcting crooked teeth with fixed braces.
    ii. Adult with crowns, bridges, root canals, implants, missing teeth Many adult patients with crowns, bridges, root canals, implants or missing teeth think that they cannot have braces treatment. That’s not true. In many cases, we are able to straighten the crooked teeth and, at the same time, get rid of an unaesthetic crown or a failed root canal. In other cases, braces may be necessary so that a more aesthetic crown, bridge or implant can be placed.


  Q&A WITH DR ANG

What was the age of the oldest person you fitted with braces?

69 years.

Who was your first ‘senior’ case?

This was more than 15 years ago, and she was a 59-year-old retiree. Back then, more than 70% of my patients were students. She told me that she had always wanted to correct her crooked teeth. However, when she was younger, her family was unable to afford it. When she started working, she could not afford the time. After she retired, she could finally have the treatment she had always wanted.

Have you had any ‘family bonding’ cases?

Recently, I had a patient who underwent treatment with her granddaughter. She told me she had always wanted braces to correct her malalignment and biting problem, but was too afraid of the pain that everyone seemed to complain about. When her granddaughter started her braces treatment, she suffered only minor discomfort and had no problem eating. After some discussion with her granddaughter, she finally plucked up the courage to consult me. After clearing her doubts and fears — specifically that of age and pain - she agreed to start treatment.
 
 
 
Dr Ang Poh Kang
@Just Braces.Dental Centre


BDS (Singapore), MOrth RCS (Edln)
MDS (Orthodontics) with distinction
FAMS (Orthodontics)

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