Clearing Up 5 Myths About Wearing Braces
For many youngsters, braces are part of growing up. With a smile considered one of the building blocks to developing self-esteem and self-confidence, parents make the investment to straighten their child’s teeth. Nearly 4 million young people between the ages of 6 and 18 wear braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontics.
Also, statistics show more adults than ever before are wearing braces. But as the field of orthodontics changes and advances, candidates of all ages for braces can face confusion trying to sort fact from fiction.
“Orthodontics is so common now that some think they know all about it, but what they think isn’t always necessarily true,” says Steven J. Moravec (www.stevemortho.com), owner of Moravec Orthodontics and author of Going The Extra Smile: Merging Technology And Expertise For A Lifetime Of Smiles.
“Many others, such as parents of children needing braces, aren’t up to speed with the changes. They know some basics – what braces do, what you can and can’t do while wearing them – but there are a lot of myths out there that are so common that they’re just accepted as fact.”
Moravec clarifies five common orthodontic myths:
- You need a referral from the dentist to see an orthodontist. “You do not need a referral,” Moravec says. “They think that because most people now belong to medical insurance plans or groups that require a referral from their primary physician to visit a specialist, and they think the same relationship exists between dentists and orthodontists. It doesn’t.”
- You don’t need to see your regular dentist while in braces or clear aligners. “You definitely do,” Moravec says. “You need to see your regular dentist at least every six months, or as often as you did before starting braces. In fact, I’d say it’s even more important to see your dentist for routine cleaning and gum inspections when you are in braces than when you aren’t. Having braces makes your teeth a little more challenging to clean, and nothing beats a professional cleaning at your dentist.”
- Braces are painful. “Here, technology comes in, making braces more comfortable than ever before,” Moravec says. “It used to be that the bands that went around the teeth had to be pushed on up into the gum line, and this would hurt. Today, we painlessly glue brackets onto the front of the teeth.”
- Invisalign or clear aligner treatment takes longer than braces. “For most patients, this is not true,” Moravec says. “The movement of teeth is a physiological process. For most cases, the time to treat is very similar for clear aligners and braces. The biggest exception is patients that have deep bites, where the front teeth overlap and cover up the lower teeth. Correction of this does take longer with clear aligners.”
- Orthodontics is always expensive, costing at least $5,000 to $6,000 every time. “The cost depends on the difficulty of the case,” Moravec says, “and many cases aren’t that difficult. The cost of treatment for minor cases can be as low as $2,000. If you have a more involved case, plan on a fee of between $5,000 or $6,500. But you are investing in a smile you will have for decades. How much did you pay for your car, and how long did that last?”
“Teeth are no different than any other part of the body; they change with age,” Moravec says. “What hasn’t changed is the importance of straightening them at a young age, but as many adults have seen, braces now work for them, too.”
Steven J. Moravec (www.stevemortho.com) is the owner of Moravec Orthodontics and the author of Going The Extra Smile: Merging Technology And Expertise For A Lifetime Of Smiles. He graduated from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and earned an MS in Orthodontics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He’s a board-certified Specialist in Orthodontics and a guest lecturer for the University of Illinois Department of Orthodontics and SureSmile.