by Christopher Piehler

Christopher Piehler

I am happy to announce that after 1 year, 8 months, and 5 days of active treatment, I have finished my second round of orthodontic treatment. I’d like to thank my orthodontist, David Alpan, DDS, MSD; and my dentist, Alexander Vasserman, DDS. I would also like to thank the various staff members who graciously answered all of my questions. I tip my hat as well to my fellow adult orthodontic patients, especially the orthodontic assistants and consultants who I’ve met at various Annual Sessions and who have showed off their own tin grins and offered words of encouragement. The whole process was much easier knowing that many of my peers were grappling with the same minor inconveniences and pains as me.

It seems that those inconveniences and pains have not dissuaded an increasing number of post-teens from getting braces. When I first started chronicling my personal orthodontic odyssey in October 2005, the AAO estimated that there were 1 million adults in some phase of orthodontic treatment. That estimate has not changed on the AAO Web site, but a recent article1 in the New York Times said, “The most recent survey by the American Association of Orthodontists showed a 37 percent increase in the number of adult patients from 1994 to 2004.” So if we assume a continued average yearly growth of 3.7%, there could be as many as 74,000 more adults in treatment than there were when I had my records taken.

And I would not be surprised if the number was greater than that. Companies are getting increasingly aggressive in marketing aesthetic treatment options directly to consumers, and are also expanding the market by offering appliances designed to make minor adjustments. The message here is that braces are not just for those unlucky folks who have the teeth of a jackrabbit or a bulldog and are willing to make a 2-year commitment to completely overhaul them. Braces are for anyone who wants to make an incremental improvement in their dental aesthetics, and some appliances are purported to do their work in a matter of months.

Which begs the question: Is this a logical extension of the specialty or over-reaching in search of money? Please write and tell me what you think.

Christopher Piehler