Nearly 1 million grownups are sporting some form of braces, double the number from 10 years ago, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).
A slew of technological advances have made braces less noticeable, less painful, and even less time-consuming. And as America's baby boomers become more health-conscious, they're rejecting the notion that dentures are a routine part of growing older.
"We want to maintain our body parts longer. People brag about working out, and braces are an outward statement that you care about yourself," says Jeffrey Schauder, D.D.S., president of the Midwestern Society of Orthodontists and practitioner in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
We also want to look better. Chris Carpenter, D.D.S., an orthodontist in Denver, says as people get older, their facial muscles begin to droop. "Your smile line drops and you see more of your lower teeth," he says. "I've had several patients say this is the first time they've noticed how crooked their teeth were."