The number of adult braces has shot up dramatically in the last four years as more and more people become obsessed with having the perfect smile.
Traditionally associated with the awkwardness of teenage adolescence, orthodontic braces are now one of the most popular cosmetic procedures, behind Botox, fillers, veneers and breast enhancements.
According to research, the number of adults seeking braces between 2005 and 2009 has increased by 560%, compared to the previous four-year period.
Figures from Turret Orthodontics, in Manchester, reveal that in the last four years 935 adults have undergone orthodontic treatment. Between 2001 and 2005, this figure was just 165.
The Manchester-based practice is owned and run by orthodontist Mohit Khurana and he attributes the rise largely to the influence of celebrity culture and the impact a confident smile can have in the workplace and on job prospects.
A significant proportion of cases are also linked to parents opting for fixed appliances after seeing their children undergo similar treatment.
Parent and children-related cases represented 20% of the total number of adult procedures carried out during that period.
Dr Mohit Khurana, who is also a consultant orthodontist at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘The stigma attached to wearing braces is considerably less than it was 10 years ago, yet the impact of having bad teeth is worse than it’s ever been.
‘It’s clear that more and more adults are acutely aware of the powerful influence that having straight teeth and a confident smile can have, both personally and professionally. As a result, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the amount of people seeking consultations, whether it’s to get that ‘Hollywood smile’, feel and look more confident in a work-based situation, or improve their look for a special occasion, such as a wedding, 50th birthday, or anniversary.’
The rise of cosmetic orthodontic treatments is also responsible for helping adults overcome the idea of metal ‘train track’ braces.
More discreet appliances now include: tooth-coloured ceramic braces, Invisalign and lingual braces.
Dr Khurana added: ‘There are so many reasons why people should invest in a healthier, straighter smile. Uneven teeth can affect your ability to bite, chew and speak properly and poor oral hygiene also typically goes hand-in-hand with teeth that aren’t straight.
‘Parents are seeing the considerable benefits that braces bring to their children. As a result, they’re now taking the plunge themselves – after all, a perfect smile does wonders for everyone’s self-confidence.’