Braces have become a rite of passage for many teenagers, but they're not just for kids anymore.
Katy Perry's video ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)’ shows how wearing braces has often been synonymous with being nerdy, but those days are over. 14-year-old Lexi Karanga explains, “At first, in fourth grade, I was the stuff. If you had braces, you were the coolest person ever.”
The social stigma behind wearing braces has dwindled over the years not only because of their health benefits, but because of their cosmetic enhancements, too. According to Dr. Hector Bush, an Orthodontist, “Everyone wants to have a beautiful smile… and a smile is usually associated with good self-esteem, particularly in adolescents and younger patients.”
It's not just teenagers who wear braces. These days, it's not uncommon to see adults wearing them, too. Ruth Karanga, Lexi’s mother, who wears braces, tells us, “Initially, I got my braces in 2004. It was mainly to correct a very gross overbite and then to straighten a few crooked teeth. I do marketing and consumer experience… so it's function as well as fashion.”
One reason people may have avoided getting braces is the assumption that it's a difficult procedure, but modern techniques have made it as easy as getting your teeth cleaned. Dr. Bush demonstrates, “We go in with an acid etch, which will remove the surface layer of the enamel. We follow it up with a sealant, which will fill in the pores. Once the teeth have been etched and sealed, the brackets are placed on the surface of the tooth. We use an ultraviolet light, which is a catalyst which starts the bonding, or hardening, of the adhesive. After the brackets have been secure, wires are placed through the bracket slots… and all these wires have different properties that allow them to move the teeth in a gentle and quick manner.”
Braces are generally a two-year commitment, which means lots of daily care and, unfortunately, giving up some of your favorite foods. Dr. Bush tells us, “We ask patients to avoid all crunchy, hard, and sticky foods. You want to avoid carrots, biting into apples, biting into ribs.”
Brushing the teeth, massaging the gums, and especially flossing are recommended daily in order to keep the braces clean and functional. Dr. Bush says, “It's critically important that patients floss. Just trace amounts of plaque, which normally would be of no consequences, now can cause full-blown gingivitis.”
Following these simple guidelines will help you obtain a beautiful smile for all the world to see.
Kids generally get braces between the ages of 8 and 14. The American Dental Association recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation around age 7. At that age, they have a combination of baby teeth and permanent teeth, and the dentist can look for issues and begin to correct them while your child is still growing.