Once upon a time, braces were referred to as “train tracks” or “metal mouth”. Now more than ever, braces are popular, with children and teens frequently wanting braces! Parents are looking for their kids to see an orthodontist, and even they themsevles are wanting that perfect smile!
“As parents, all you can do for your kids is give them a good education and straight teeth” – annoymous parent
So why this sudden change in culture?
The benefits of orthodontics have always been the same… orthodontic treatment aims to perfect teeth positions and the alignment to allow for a beautiful smile and healthy function. Our knowledge and appreciation of health are on the rise. Our ideals are continually being influenced by marketing, with companies often using “beautiful” people with “beautiful” smiles to sell their products. Then of course, there is Hollywood’s influence…and that Hollywood smile – indeed, there have been numerous photographs of stars in braces or aligners, from Justin Beiber to Samuel L Jackson. We love them for their smiles and our goals as human beings are always uniformity – no one asks for crooked teeth!
A study from Invisalign in 2012, where a survey of public members was conducted, states that we are constantly being judged based on our appearance, that teeth are a standout feature and a nice smile is important. In fact, people with straight teeth were judged to be more successful, smarter and were more likely to have more relationship dates!
So what do we know about the benefits of straight teeth?
Straight teeth and a healthy smile may impact on self image, attitude and confidence of both adults and children. This is an especially important when children are developing social and psychological maturity in the teenage years. It is very common for a person with crooked teeth to avoid smiling or to cover their mouth when smiling. This same person may very likely be less outgoing and less engaging in social situations due to the idea that other people may be judging them on their teeth.
Teeth function best when the oral hygiene is good and when they are in the correct position. There is not a great deal of scientific evidence available to say that crooked teeth are bad, however, teeth in the incorrect position can cause significant wear of teeth, gum problems and sometimes, the bite shifting which is believed to cause unfavourable jaw growth or worse, an asymmetry as a shifting jaw would move to either the left or right hand side in a child. There are other claims which include: decreased digestion efficiency, bad bites resulting to mouth breathing, and the list goes on. However, solid proof is still lacking when looking at the scientific literature.