Many of us believe that if we don’t take the opportunity to straighten our teeth in our teenage years, the moment has passed and it’s too late.
However, an increasing number of people are turning to orthodontics later (and later) in life, safe in the knowledge that it is never too late to achieve the smile of their dreams – especially with the advent of discreet and virtually invisible treatments, which weren’t available in their youth.
Having always hated her teeth, Jenny* grasped her husband’s offer of treatment for her 65th birthday and made her appointment with specialist orthodontist Raman Aulakh.
She says: 'I had recently seen a horrid picture of myself, with teeth that looked remarkably like those of Nanny McPhee. I had been aware that my front tooth was moving, and it had started to catch my top lip, but the picture really highlighted this to me, and I decided that it was now or never if I was to achieve the straight teeth I had always craved.'
Jenny was delighted to learn that she could be treated using the virtually invisible ‘aligners’ from Invisalign as she was keen to straighten her teeth, but reluctant for anyone to know she was undergoing orthodontic treatment at her age.
'I was thrilled at how unobtrusive the aligners were; no-one noticed I was wearing them! Invisalign really worked for me, putting in the aligners everyday became a habit – like putting my face on. They allowed me a degree of freedom I don’t think I would have achieved with traditional braces; I could choose not to wear them for brief periods, a dinner date for example.'
Invisalign move the teeth, gradually and precisely using a series of tailor-made clear aligners, which are changed every two weeks to another pair with a slightly different contour, to encourage the teeth to move gradually towards the desired position. The aligners are removed for eating which Jenny maintains was another benefit of the treatment, as she wryly explained: 'An unseen advantage of the treatment, and not one you would see in the Invisalign brochure. Invisalign really stopped me nibbling!'
Straight teeth were something that Helen Cunningham, 72, had wanted from childhood. Four years ago Helen took the step to downsize after she sadly lost her husband. Downsizing left her with money to pay for orthodontic treatment by dentist Dr Hanel Nathwani.
'I had never liked my teeth, and had noticed that I had recently started to put my hand in front of my mouth whenever I laughed (and I laugh a lot!). As a nation, we are living so much longer and we all want to look younger - I often joke Invisalign should create a marketing campaign for widows and the recently divorced! I’m so pleased with the results, I have no regrets about undergoing treatment, and would - and do - recommend Invisalign to anyone.”
At 54, Catherine Lewis has also recently concluded her Invisalign treatment. Catherine had previously worn traditional braces, but failed to wear her retainer when the wires and brackets were removed. Subsequently, her teeth had begun to move back to their original ‘crooked’ position and she was finding it difficult to keep her misaligned teeth clean. When Dr Aulakh explained that Invisalign treatment did not look anything like the visible ‘train tracks’ of old, Catherine was eager to get started.
'My overcrowded teeth were proving difficult to clean, and I was nervous that this would lead serious dental problems as time went on. Straight teeth are considerably easier to clean – something I view as vitally important.'
Orthodontics has traditionally been seen as a teenage rite of passage, one that few of us would consider undergoing in adulthood. However, Catherine who owns her own boutique dress shop has noticed that her story is far from unusual – 'Running a small dress shop I have many clients in their 50s and 60s, and several of them have confessed that they are also undergoing Invisalign orthodontic treatment.'
Orthodontist Raman Aulakh explains: 'As a specialist orthodontist, I am treating an increasing number of older patients aged 50 and over who want to maximise the beauty of their smile and improve their bite. It does take meticulous treatment planning. However, stories like those of Jenny, Helen and Catherine are not untypical. Many patients in this age group had previously believed that they were too old for orthodontics, and were not keen to have fixed visible braces. Once these patients fully understood the discreet nature of Invisalign treatment, and how there is no age limit to obtaining the straight teeth they had dreamed of, many patients undergo successful orthodontic work.'
Jenny has these words for anyone wondering if the treatment is worthwhile – 'I recommend that anyone who wants to straighten their teeth should do so. They should not let age be a reason not to do it. Invisalign is a journey, an adventure and one that has made me so happy with what it has achieved.'
*Not her real name.