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    Straight Talk About Braces for Adults

    After Treatment

    Cleaning your teeth may get easier once your teeth are straighter, but that's not your cue to slack off, says Adityah Chhibber, assistant professor of dental medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center.

    "Most people think their crowded teeth are the reason they have periodontal disease," Chhibber says. "They think once they have straight teeth, they won't have those problems any more, but evidence doesn't support that."

    Bottom line: if you don't do a good job cleaning your teeth now, braces won't fix that. So brush up -- whether you have them or not. The more you work at it, the easier it becomes to get them clean.

    When to Straighten and When to Wait

    Poor gum health can put the brakes on braces. If you have active gum disease, now isn't the time to tackle orthodontics.

    It doesn't mean you can never have braces, but you need to treat the gum disease first, Will says. [SW1]

    As far as age goes, however, it's never too late to create a perfect smile.

    As long as your bones and gums are healthy enough to withstand the forces, you should be OK to get them, Chibber says. "We have patients out here in the clinic from 8 years old to almost 80 years old." [SW2]

    "Sometimes adults come in and say, 'I'm 45, that's getting old,'" Will says. "And I say, 'Not at all! You should have another 50 years on those teeth!' Why not have your teeth look as good as possible for as long as possible?"[SW3

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    Reviewed on December 15, 2015

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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