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Despite a perception that braces are for teenagers, a significant number of adults decide to straighten their teeth later in life, according to a report in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Patients range from those who did not have the money or the interest to seek orthodontic treatment earlier to those who already had braces but found their teeth shifting as they got older.
Orthodontist Bruce Burns said that despite people's best efforts, teeth are naturally prone to movement.
"It's not a static environment. It's a very dynamic environment," he explained.
Sylvia Frazier-Bowers, a professor of orthodontics at UNC Chapel Hill, said that the increase in adult orthodontics has likely come about because "people are living longer - and their teeth are in their mouth longer - and they want to look good."
Approximately 20 percent of orthodontic patients are over 18 years old, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
© 2008 Brafton Inc.
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