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Orthodontists Say A Growing Number Of Adults Are Getting Braces, Again

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If you had braces as a teenager and find yourself looking at less than perfect teeth in your 30s or 40s, you are not alone.

Orthodontists are seeing a growing number of adults who've relapsed, CBS2's Emily Smith reported.

For Christine O'Sullivan, being in an orthodontist's chair bring back memories of her middle school years; an embarrassing and painful three-year experience involving metal braces and a key.

"To make room for this tooth to come up, I had to turn it every night," O'Sullivan said.

Now 34, she's back in the chair for another set of braces. This time, she's going for Invisalign, a clear mouth-guard that can't be easily seen.

But little did she know she'd ever have to experience braces again.

"As a kid I also didn't listen to the dentist when he said 'wear a retainer.' So it's partly on me," she said.

For straight teeth, sometimes that means a life sentence with a retainer.

Dr. Joseph Hung said 30 percent of his patients are in the same situation as O'Sullivan.

"So that's every night for the rest of your life?" Smith asked.

"Yes, you miss a day you wear it the next day!" Hung said. "The average story is they had braces, metal ones during their teen years, went to college, didn't wear retainers, well... teeth got crooked," he said.

CBS2 spoke to some teenagers who've experienced braces recently. Tristan Saunders said he got his off and had a permanent retainer put in to avoid the possibility of a relapse.

"I kinda think it's a big waste of money and doctors are talking them into it!" he said.

O'Sullivan expects to have straight teeth by summer. She said she'll happily wear a retainer to bed and this time she won't forget.

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