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Straight Talk About Braces for Adults

It's never too late to perfect your smile -- just ask the increasing number of adults who are rushing to the orthodontist.

Veneers: The Quick Fix

If you don't have time to wait for orthodontic treatment and want instant results, porcelain veneers might be for you. Porcelain veneers are wafer-thin shells that are bonded to the front side of teeth to improve their cosmetic appearance.

"A lot of times if a patient comes in and their teeth just are not pretty, I just go straight to veneers because with veneers I can typically fix the position, the shape, the color, and the appearance of the tooth all in one fell swoop. If a patient comes to me and they have beautiful, virgin, healthy teeth and they're just crooked, then I would talk about braces, then I would talk about Invisalign," says aesthetic dentist William Dorfman, DDS, who has received two lifetime achievement awards in cosmetic dentistry and has been featured on the hit TV show Extreme Makeover.

"Porcelain veneers also give you a quick fix. If I have a patient who is an actor or actress, or business person, and he or she really needs to have their teeth perfect and really needs to have it done quickly, obviously porcelain veneers will give you a much faster result because we don't have to wait for the teeth to move," he tells WebMD.

Dorfman says veneers are also sometimes used in conjunction with braces in cases of broken, chipped, or severely stained teeth. But the instant beauty of veneers doesn't come cheap. They can cost between $700 and $2,000 each and typically need replacing every 10 years -- depending on upkeep.

"Now if you just have some minor problems, some minor spacing, and it's because the teeth are small, then veneers work great. But if you have rotated, crowded teeth ... they do a good job but they make the teeth much thicker, so it puts the tooth in an unhealthy situation and you can't correct bites with veneers. I think they have their limitations," Sebastian says.

Whatever your motivation to straighten your teeth, Dorfman -- who has had a complete smile makeover himself -- says it can change your life.

"I would say that if you're not happy with your smile, 90% of the time, changing it is a lot easier than you ever thought and you should find a good cosmetic dentist in your area and go and have a consultation and talk about it. Life is too short not to be able to walk into a room and just have a beautiful, healthy, happy smile that makes you feel good about yourself."

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Reviewed on August 18, 2005

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
Never
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Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
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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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