As a self-confident youth, the idea of having braces horrified Caroline Bishop – the thought of the pain and the ugly metallic "train tracks" scared her.
Against the advice of dentists, she decided to live with her shaky teeth and overbites.
But with increasing age, our gums can become weaker and your teeth move – this is how Caroline's overbite has become more and more pronounced over the years.
So two years ago, at the age of 55, Caroline decided to take her oral health seriously and talked to her dentist about braces.
Did you know? Crooked teeth may be hereditary, with insufficient space in the jaw for the entire pair of teeth genetically determined
"I just could not put it off any longer," says Caroline, mother of two children living with her partner in Reading, Berkshire.
"Not only did I hate what they looked like, I was also told that my teeth could cause health problems in the future as well."
Overlapping teeth are more difficult to clean, especially as dexterity and vision diminish with age, so that plaque and bacteria can accumulate in difficult-to-access oral clefts, which can lead to gum disease. This is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and lung infections.
Even the pressure that a tooth pushes against another at the wrong angle for years can cause a tooth to break or fall out.
"If you have overlapping teeth, cleaning or flossing can be difficult as you get older, and it will be all the more so," Dr. Richard George of the British Orthodontic Society.
"Plaque builds up and the gums get inflamed – and this can increase susceptibility to gum disease and possible tooth loss. For some people it may be that with braces they finally have the chance to clean their teeth properly and to prevent gum disease and tooth loss. "
Tooth grinding can also be a problem, adds dentist dr. Biju Krishnan from the London Center for Cosmetic Dentistry.
"This can cause your teeth to crack, shorten, or move under pressure, which is why some people need braces."
Caroline's problem was a "deep" bite or overbite – with the upper anteriors almost completely overlapping the lower ones. This can cause the teeth to wear out quickly.
Side effects: Orthodontic treatment is not normally available to adults in the NHS but may be approved for health reasons
Crooked teeth may be hereditary, with insufficient space in the jaw for the entire pair of teeth genetically determined.
However, this is exacerbated by a phenomenon known as mesial drift, the natural tendency of the ligaments to shorten and pull the teeth forward. "Over time, this leads to overcrowding," says dr. Krishnan.
Some orthodontists advise adults who have straight teeth and who have never worn braces to wear a holder – a custom plastic shield that costs around 100 euros – to hold the teeth in their current position.
Those who wear braces in their teens may still have problems if they do not use teeth after straightening the braces to keep their teeth straight.
"What we see now [in our surgeries] are adults who had orthodontic treatment in the 1970s and 1980s when the owners were retired, "says Dr. George. Nowadays, when it comes to braces, the options are more discreet than they were 40 years ago and include ceramic braces with tooth colored wires.
"Even less visible are lingual devices – braces that attach to the back of the teeth rather than the front," Dr. Trevor Hodge of the Beverley Orthodontic Center in Yorkshire.
Finally, there are removable, clear Aligner systems, as Caroline had.
"These translucent plastic aligners with mouthguards are made from shapes or scans of the patient's teeth," says Dr. Hodge. "Every few weeks, a new aligner is used to gradually position the teeth."
However, treatment is usually expensive – Caroline's Invisalign braces cost 3,000 pounds.
Orthodontic treatment is usually not available to adults in the NHS, although it may be approved for health reasons.
"These removable aligner systems have an advantage for patients who already have gum disease," explains Dr. George. "If they have fixed braces, they may have difficulty maintaining a good standard of oral hygiene while correcting their teeth. However, as these aligners can be removed, the wearer can easily clean and clean the teeth. "
The treatment time for all braces typically ranges from nine months to two years. Caroline, whose treatment took two years, says, "It was not easy – the braces were tight and uncomfortable. But I was determined to keep going because I knew my teeth would only get worse if I did not. "