Adults opting to fix their teeth thanks to improved technology

More and more adults are choosing to straighten their teeth with traditional braces or other teeth alignment systems, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

The AAO reports nearly 1.7 million adults were treated by an AAO registered orthodontists for crooked teeth in 2016. That's a nearly 50 percent increase from 2006.

"Our patient pool is about 20 percent adult. That used to be five to 10," said long-time orthodontist Dr. Ralph Brock. "We've been doing things with metallurgy to make the wires more flexible and the brackets even smaller."

Dr. Brock credits the resurgence to advances in orthodontic technology in the last five to 10 years. Clear options have made it more appealing for patients to straighten their teeth.

The clear choices also include the more traditional form of teeth straightening, using brackets and wires to push, pull and twist teeth into place.

"I've thought about getting braces before, but it's always been the kids first," said patient Gary Kong. "But lately with my career when I'm dealing more with the corporate executives, it gets to be more of a distraction."

Kong has to get traditional braces. Clear aligners were not a good fit for him because Dr. Brock said his teeth will require dramatic movement to get in place.

Invisalign, a system where clear aligners or trays are used to slowly move the teeth into place, is seeing big growth in patients. But it's not a good fit for everyone. A company spokesperson told ABC13 their teeth straightening system is a good fit for nearly 60 percent of patients.

The company expects to improve that number. Dr. Brock said candidates for Invisalign are usually those that don't require dramatic movement of teeth.

Dr. Brock said there's still lots of room for growth in all orthodontic systems. He said soon, traditional braces may be virtually invisible, too.

"Actually what they're working on is a fiber optic cable," said Dr. Brock.

"It is a big competitive world out there, and I think you need to look your best," said Kong.

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