Boomers Wearing Braces: It’s Never Too Late

By Charlotte Bumstead

Dr. Egon Beiler had been living with crowded teeth for nearly 50 years. A few crooked teeth never hurt his wrestling career (he was a member of three Olympic wrestling teams). Nor did they deter his wife, Carol, who is now mother to his five kids. So it’s understandable the thought to make a change had simply passed him by. That is until one day, when his wife suggested they both get their braces put on together.  And so they did – at ages 55 and 56, the Beilers committed to wearing a mouthful of metal for the next 18 months.

“I honestly don’t know why I waited this long to [get braces],” says Dr. Beiler, who recently completed his 30th year of dentistry.  “It’s always nice to have great, straight teeth. For periodontal reasons, it’s so much easier to clean your teeth when they’re straight. You’ll have fewer issues with your gums and with the bone levels around your teeth.” Of course, walking around with a set of train tracks in your mouth is far from anyone’s idea of fun. The process requires a vigilant brushing and flossing routine, and you’re going to suffer from a little discomfort now and then. “But you get used to cleaning them properly,” he says.

According to Beiler, it is never too late to get braces. Teeth can be moved around at any age. Still, the longer you wait, the more difficult it is going to be. The bone isn’t as soft at age 50 as it was when you were 15. But as he notes, there are many reasons getting braces after 50 might be even easier than having to wear them in your 20s or 30s. Young adults with braces are more likely to have self-confidence issues—as they are looking to start careers and/or to find a life partner. Adding cosmetic complications to this sequence can be difficult to deal with. “I think the older you get, that kind of disappears. You’re already on your way with your future and you’ve got the confidence, and you don’t mind going ahead with braces at that point.”

And there are other options besides the metal brackets. Though a slightly longer process, Invisalign is becoming a popular choice. It works as a clear, plastic appliance which fits in your mouth, progressively shifting your teeth into place. But it is going to cost you a little extra, and as most are aware, braces are not cheap to begin with. According to Beiler, the state of the economy often plays a part in the percentage of patients who are getting braces. “Some dental plans do cover [braces], but it’s at a minimal account.” Yet, the number of boomers getting braces is currently on the rise. Beiler has noticed a definite increase in the amount of his patients who are getting braces after age 40. Take it from a dentist who has learned through experience: “In the end, it’s worth it.”