Nova Scotia

More adults getting braces, says Bedford orthodontist

A growing number of adults are deciding to get braces later in life.

'It's probably the largest growing sector in orthodontic interest,' says orthodontist Dr. Sarah Davidson

Maureen O'Reilly-Norrad, 55, has been wearing her Invisalign braces for about 15 months. (Natalie Dobbin/CBC)

Maureen O'Reilly-Norrad is glowing talking about her life today.

She got married last year, she has a new home, next month she's retiring and soon, she'll say goodbye to braces.

"I'm starting another stage in my life," said the 55-year-old woman. "To have a great smile to go along with it, that's just awesome."

O-Reilly-Norrad is part of a growing trend of adults opting for braces, says Dr. Sarah Davidson, an orthodontist at the Brace Space in Bedford.

Maureen O'Reilly-Norrad is shown with her orthodontist, Dr. Sarah Davidson. (Natalie Dobbin/CBC)

"We've seen a tremendous growth. It's probably the largest growing sector in orthodontic interest," she said.

Davidson says close to half of the practice's clients are adults, which is far more than the 20 per cent she was told to expect when she started her career.

"I would say say a significant portion of that growth has come in the 50-plus crowd, which is really exciting for us," she said. 

Goodbye dentures 

Adults might get braces for esthetic reasons, or to restore their bite to an ideal form and function, says Davidson.

She says dental patients today are very educated and people are wanting to maintain their teeth throughout their lives.

"People are recognizing that the days of wearing dentures are ... gone by and now people know that, yes, they can keep a beautiful and healthy and functional smile throughout life," said Davidson.

'These old teeth' 

Davidson says lot of people come into the office a bit self-conscious about their bite.

Top: Invisalign is a braces products that is a series of clear plastic aligners that fit over the teeth. Bottom: Patients can also get clear brackets on the top, and metal ones on the bottom. (Natalie Dobbin/CBC)

Orthodontists can do a lot, but it's not the same as dealing with younger patients as it's easier to move kids' teeth. 

With adults, it's more about improvement over perfection, and they can also be more compliant because of the money they are investing in the work.

'The new age of orthodontics'

The clinic has a mix of younger and older patients, Davidson says, and sometimes family members share the experience.

"We have a grandfather and a grandson in treatment at the same time," she said. "They're able to talk about their braces and what they're going through."

The Brace Space has even updated its promotional material in the office. 

The Brace Space has new promotional material featuring adult patients. (Natalie Dobbin/CBC)

Adults are featured on posters with the slogan, "The new age of orthodontics."

"The new age is that anybody that wants to can have a great smile and a great bite," said Davidson.

'That little edge' 

O'Reilly-Norrad has been wearing her Invisaligns for almost 15 months now.

Her bottom teeth were crooked and she says she always felt self-conscious about it.

She visited the Brace Space and saw a 3D view of her teeth, and decided she needed to take care of them now. 

"My teeth are much straighter now, so I have more confidence when I'm smiling and laughing," she said. "It's just gonna give me that little edge, you know, to make me feel better about myself."