We need to keep things in perspective. In the early 80’s, the percentage of adults in an orthodontic practice was at most, 20%. Nowadays, adults can be anywhere from 40 to 60% of the patient base of any given practice throughout the United States. It’s very important, or at least, it was very important for us to be able to cater to the needs of those adult patients, which in some events are different from the needs of a patient that is in his or her teens. For instance, some adult patients may have bruxism problems. They wear down their teeth a lot faster than younger patients, just because they have that ailment, which can also lead to problems of your joint, which is also known as TMJ.
We’ve been able to incorporate the features of our retainer for a patient that has just finished orthodontic treatment with the features of a splint appliance. The splint is basically a sign so that you do not load up your TMJ, and it also helps you to protect against early attrition of your dental enamel. That has been a huge hit for our adult patients. Moreover, some of these patients may also have rehab work done to their arches, so they may have crowns, they may have implants, and they may have bone grafts. Having this splint that protects their teeth is pretty much insurance for their investment. When you think about, if you add things up from a orthodontic treatment, to a dental implant, to a crown, young adults, or adults in general do have a sizable investment in the way they want their teeth to look, and we want to be able to give them the tools to protect that investment on the long term.
That’s how we cater to our adult patients. Also, we make appliances more aesthetic, if you will. A dreaded feature of a regular retainer is the labial bow across your teeth, so when you smile, when you grin, people are able to see that wire coming across your teeth, so we are able to give, or manufacture retainers for these patients that have a labial bow that you can barely see, because it’s made out of a very high quality plastic. Also, the color combinations, the way we finish the acrylic, everything is geared toward giving patients a more aesthetic look, while also meeting the function the appliance is going to have. That’s how we cater to our growing number of adult patients.