Braces are increasingly common, and each year about 200,000 people in England will have them fitted by an orthodontist or qualified dentist. Most people who have braces fitted are under the age of 18 with about 35% of these being children rather than teenagers.
More adults are seeking braces now. The British Orthodontic Society reported that about 75% of orthodontists are fitting more adults with braces.
This is possibly due to there being less access to orthodontists in the past. Fortunately, if your child needs braces now there isn’t just more availability, but more choice too.
Is there a stigma around wearing braces today?
Parents of a certain age may remember braces being a bit of a stigma at school, and perhaps not a cool look. Yet, today braces are seen as desirable by many children as they understand more about their benefits.
It may also be that pop stars and celebrities wearing braces openly has helped boost the cool factor for children. With Justin Bieber, Emma Watson, and Gwen Stefani being spotted on TV in braces, it is clear that orthodontics are more popular today than ever.
When should a child be fitted with braces?
There is no upper limit to having braces, and this is perhaps why you are now seeing more adults being fitted with them. The UK dental market was around £9.62 billion in 2022. This takes into account cosmetic and corrective procedures plus checkups, fillings, and other treatments including orthodontics.
As adults seek to correct their teeth and get a winning smile, they are looking more at corrective treatments including braces, but this can be avoided by a child seeing an orthodontist at an earlier stage in life.
Your child should be seen by an orthodontist by the time they are seven. If there are problems with jaw or teeth alignment, an orthodontist can identify the cause and recommend braces if necessary.
What are braces designed to do?
In the simplest description, braces straighten teeth and help to give a person a better smile. Braces can help to boost confidence and improve the appearance of teeth. These positives can help a child overcome a fear of dentists, and there are other gains to be had too.
Up to 50% of children will need braces, and while they help to straighten and align teeth, they also help with oral health in these ways:
- Easier to floss and brush
- Prevent tooth decay
- Improve bite
- Improve speech
- Better digestion
- Protect bones from erosion
Having a better bite and aligned teeth make it easier to brush and keep clean, and also to chew food properly aiding digestion. One of the reasons why your child isn’t sleeping may be due to teething, but as they get older, misaligned teeth can cause other issues such as indigestion and tooth decay. Toothache is sure to disturb your child’s sleep but braces can help to protect teeth and aid with oral hygiene.
What choices for braces does your child have?
You will no doubt have seen standard braces on someone in your lifetime, perhaps you had them fitted during your school years yourself, and these are generally adequate for fixing teeth alignment. But, some children and adults might be interested in the other available options.
White ceramic braces
These braces are unobtrusive and less obvious than standard metal types and may be preferable for some children. Ceramic braces have smaller brackets, cause less discomfort, and don’t irritate the gums as standard types can.
Lingual technology is the name given to these types of braces. They work in the same way that standard braces do, except instead of the brackets being positioned on the exterior face of the teeth, they are on the rear. Therefore, they are very hard to spot and practically invisible.
Clear plastic aligners
Invisalign is the brand name behind clear plastic aligners that can help children and adults with a range of orthodontic issues. As they are clear, these aligners are less obvious than standard braces but still effective.
How long do children need to wear braces?
Children usually wear braces for 18 months to 3 years with regular visits to the orthodontist to check progress. Adults will typically wear braces from 2 to 3 years before having them removed.
Yet, some techniques help to speed up the process. High-frequency vibrations accelerate tooth movement, as do other treatments involving light waves.
Orthodontists can determine whether there is a need for braces to be fitted, and make recommendations for what type might suit best.
Gone are the days when braces were stigmatized, and in some countries, fake versions are fitted for fashion. However, for orthodontic treatment, your child will need to visit a professional dental clinic and be assessed there.
Last Updated on June 25, 2023 by Lucy Clarke