The decision of whether to get braces, either for yourself or your child, can be difficult.
Although they may correct a dental issue, they might have to be in place for a while, and then there is also the expense of the treatment to consider.
For braces to be worth it the benefits have to greatly outweigh any concerns. We believe that, for anybody who has dental misalignment that could be corrected by braces, they are always worth it.
In this post we will look at the benefits of braces, be that for children, adults or both. We will also touch on the concerns. Let’s start with the benefits. A few of them might surprise you, the first one isn’t even directly related to the mouth.
Benefits of Braces
Braces and Self-esteem
The latest UK Child Dental Health Survey by the British Orthodontic Society contained an alarming statistic – the majority of 12-year-olds are often embarrassed to smile or have experienced difficulty cleaning or brushing their teeth. It is not unreasonable to assume that a child who is embarrassed by their smile might also have concerns about speaking.
The embarrassment a child experiences when smiling will often stem from concerns they have over their teeth; they do not want to present an uneven smile to the world so they develop habits to hide or cover their smile (smiling with their mouth closed, breaking eye contact and looking to the floor, covering their mouth with their hand).
If you are an adult considering braces this might already ring true, regaining confidence in your appearance being a key reason for considering braces. Perhaps you have a client-facing job or one that requires you to meet with, and present to, key stakeholders on a regular basis.
The importance of first impressions is well known and there have been many studies into this area – one referenced on PsychCentral suggests that first impressions are more important than fact. In a work environment, people will judge someone based on first impressions and then stick to these impressions even if they are later refuted by fact.
For a child, getting braces at a young age may help prevent self-esteem issues into adulthood. That might be for a somewhat distant future, but more immediately braces may make their childhood that bit more positive. A positive mindset enables children to try things, to interact and to enjoy experiences. Braces do not magically equal a perfect childhood, but they could remove concerns that have a negative impact.
Braces and Improved Speech
In some cases, misaligned teeth can lead to problems with speech. Inconsistencies in the spacing of teeth can create gaps and cause misplacement of the tongue, this, in turn, being the potential cause of a lisp.
Using braces to correct alignment would improve problems with speech caused by spacing and, as with improving the aesthetics of the smile, this can also have a positive effect on self-esteem and confidence.
Clearly, any child who has concerns over both the appearance of their teeth and also the sound of their words is likely to shy away from interactions, yet there is no need for this to continue. Braces could resolve the problem!
Tackling Bad Breath
To round off the trio of issues that affect self-esteem, misaligned teeth can also be linked with bad breath; bacteria thrive in those hard-to-clean pockets which may lead to halitosis.
Reduced Tooth Decay
Misaligned teeth create the perfect environment in which bacteria can thrive.
The overcrowding of teeth, coupled with gaps in other areas, creates pockets that are extremely difficult to clean with just a toothbrush, paste, and floss (you do use all of those, don’t you?!).
Correcting the spacing of teeth means that it will be far easier to clean them in the future.
A further advantage is that the process of having braces imparts better dental hygiene to patients.
Patients have to be disciplined in cleaning their teeth, and braces create an extra area to clean (indeed braces may instil good dental habits in a child who is normally unable to maintain good dental hygiene).
Perhaps it is even a chance to introduce a few beneficial dietary changes – the complications that toffee or popcorn or other sweet substances present to the process of cleaning their braces, and the accompanying risk of damaging them, might persuade children to cut back their consumption.
Having braces leads to teeth which are easier to maintain, and in turn, improved dental maintenance in the long term.
Improved Gum Health
In children, gum issues are rare, however, that is not true for adults. The NHS website suggests that the majority of UK adults have some degree of gum disease.
For most this is gingivitis, a condition that leads to bleeding gums, and is often accompanied by bad breath, though it is not necessarily causing long-term damage. A more serious problem is periodontitis, this being an erosion of the gum and bone.
As we mentioned, issues with tooth alignment can create the perfect environment for bacteria to live on and around the gum line and, over time, this can lead to gum disease.
The prevalence of gum disease in the UK shows just how difficult it is to prevent, correcting teeth misalignment is one factor that helps.
If you want to read more on gum disease, see our post on how common gingivitis is here.
Tackling Dental Pain
Badly aligned teeth can lead to grinding or an uneven bite – though misalignment is far from the only reason for grinding – stress and emotional concerns often being a common cause.
However, a misaligned bite can put increased pressure on the temporomandibular joints (two of the joints connecting the jawbone to the skull), this having the potential to lead to jaw and neck pain and accompanying headaches.
Having the potential for pockets of bacteria can also lead to flare ups of pain and the dreaded abscess. Shudder.
Two other benefits of braces
These benefits of braces are not as common but their benefits when applicable are great.
- Tackling sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common condition whereby breathing is abnormal during sleep. It has been linked with serious medical conditions including high blood pressure and heart disease while on a daily basis it can create a feeling of drowsiness.The size of the airway can be a cause of the condition and, in turn, misaligned teeth could be reducing the size of the airway when a person is lying in a sleeping position.
While braces are not a common treatment for sleep apnea, a better night’s sleep could be an added benefit.
- Improved digestion. A person with a misaligned bite might chew their food less, either because their bite is relatively ineffective or chewing creates pain. Food that is poorly broken up at the first stage of the digestion process is then harder to digest in the stomach, issues with indigestion therefore being a potential side effect.
Against having Braces
There are compelling reasons why braces are worth it, but what about the concerns?
The two main items people put in the “cons” column are time and expense. Braces have to be worn for an extended period of time and they cost money.
Time Braces are Worn For
On the factor of time, we would say that the time to act is now, that is at least to seek a consultation so that an orthodontist can advise on the best course of action.
The length braces are worn for is also a concern because of the aesthetic look, however gone are the days when braces had to be the very visible wire and metal brackets.
Braces come in a range of styles and colours – see our post on the rise of colour braces – , while teens and adults can even take advantage of Invisalign which, as the name implies, is a near-invisible treatment option that still has the long-term benefits of other braces.
Lingual (inside) braces are also an option for those who are concerned by the look of Labial (outside) braces. Have a look at the different options we have for those needing an orthodontist in London
Braces are becoming increasingly trendier amongst kids – we have even had siblings of our younger patients complain that they have to wait their turn to get braces after seeing their older brother or sister enjoying the look of theirs!
Cost of Braces
Orthodontic treatment, from initial appointment through each set of braces and ongoing consultations, will come with a four-figure price tag.
At the Dental Surgery, we are completely open with our prices, you can see them here. However, it is impossible to give an exact figure for braces as the level of work and type of braces will vary by patient.
We offer a payment plan whereby half the fee can be paid upfront, with the remainder paid over 10 months with 0% interest.
So, are braces worth it?
If a potential patient has misaligned teeth, and if braces could benefit them, then they are clearly worth it, the advantages are so great, many can be truly life-enhancing!
If you would like to discuss options further, please do get in touch with us at The Dental Surgery, we are based in the City of London and contactable on 020 7680 1800 or visit this page.