BUSAN, South Korea — Gone are the days when getting braces for that perfect smile is viewed only for children and teens. According to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), the number of adults in the US getting braces has risen 25 percent in the last decade, with roughly 20 percent of all orthodontic patients now comprising people over 25.
"The stigma of being 'too old' for braces has diminished for the most part," said Dr. Stephen Tracey in a recent interview with the LA Times, adding that his oldest patient was 80.
Dr. Cho Yong-woo, a 15-year veteran in the orthodontics field in Busan, South Korea, says that the rate of Korean adults getting braces is even higher. “I would say that anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of my patients are adults.”
Cho, who studied at the Center for Advanced Dental Education at St. Louis University, is one of only 15 South Korean members of the prestigious American Board of Orthodontics (ABO) and the only member not practicing in Seoul. The ABO screening process is so stringent that only about 25% of Americans themselves are approved for certification.
Speaking at his practice in Seomyeon, which he named St. Louis Orthodontics in honor of his alma mater, Cho attributes the rise in adults getting braces to advances in dental science.
“The days of giant metal braces with steel wires and headgear are gone,” says Cho. “Nowadays people can get braces with clear ceramic brackets which are less noticeable, or have them attached to the back of the teeth. The field of orthodontics has made some great advances in the past decade and more adults are taking advantage of it.”
Though costs vary depending upon the extent of correction needed, South Korean prices are comparable and sometimes lower than those in other countries. The typical duration of the procedure averages between 12 to 20 months and requires in-office adjustments every four-to-six weeks, said Cho.
For expats living abroad for a shorter period of time, Cho offers a referral service tailored to the patient’s next destination after leaving Korea.
“Before the patient leaves to return home or relocate to another country, I personally help them research local orthodontists’ qualifications and specialties in the area they will move to,” explained Cho. “We contact orthodontists before our patients’ arrival and share patient records and procedures to ensure the optimal transition from our service to another service abroad.”
Cho feels this kind of commitment is essential when considering the commitment the patient is making to have a better smile.
“When a person decides to spend two years of their lives and invest money to improve their smile, I feel it’s my job as their doctor to offer the best service possible every step of the way.”
If you would like a free consultation with Dr. Cho about the state of your smile, you can visit his office in Seomyeon next to Lotte Department store or call at 051-645-2895. You can also visit St. Louis Orthodontics on the web at www.slortho.co.kr
Mon. 2pm – 7pm
Tues. 10:30am – 7pm
Wed. 2pm – 7pm
Friday 10:30am – 7pm
Saturday 9:30am – 4pm