A record number of adults are choosing to get braces, states a new study conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
The group's "The Economics of Orthodontics" survey found a 14 percent increase in the number of orthodontic patients over the age of 18 in the two-year period from 2010 to 2012. According to the analysis, there are over 1.2 million adults in the United States and Canada who are undergoing orthodontic treatment.
"Many of our adult patients are telling us it's time for them to get their smile on track," said Dr. Gayle Glenn, president of the AAO, in a press release. "Adults patients often have gone years – even decades – trying to hide their teeth, while not even entertaining the idea of orthodontic treatment because of misplaced concern about having treatment as an adult."
She also noted that there are many discrete and barely-visible braces options for individuals who are uncomfortable with traditional metal wire variety.
The reasons why more adults are considering orthodontic treatment are varied. In a related survey conducted by the AAO last year, a significant number of respondents reported that they thought their social lives and job prospects would improve if they had a better smile.
Another factor for the increase in adult patients may be the affordability of treatment. More people have dental insurance that includes orthodontic benefits. Flexible spending accounts and payment plans offered by orthodontists have made paying for braces manageable for many individuals.