Should I get braces?
This section is about the benefits of orthodontic treatment
Most people agree that there are many benefits from having braces
It is often said that orthodontic treatment will reduce the chances of having future dental problems, such as decay/cavities and gum disease, and that improving the appearance of the teeth will result in a person feeling better about themselves.
Unfortunately, these benefits are not always supported by research and so the decision to have braces will not always result in improvement. Let’s look at the some of the evidence:
The benefits of having braces are clear if you have a serious orthodontic problem. and Orthodontic treatment will:
- Change the position of teeth that are in the wrong place or have not come properly into your mouth.
- Correct teeth which are protruding or “stick out” and reduce the chance of you damaging them if you fall over or have an accident (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2013).
- Correct teeth that are very crowded or misplaced and may make it easier for you to clean them.
- Correct the way that your teeth are biting together if they are causing damage to your palate or the gums around your teeth.
- Improve the way that your front teeth look if they are crooked or stick out and may make you feel better about yourself.
- Help future dental treatment if you have some teeth that have not grown or formed.
- May reduce the chance of you being teased about the appearance of your teeth.
If your orthodontic problem is severe, you are more likely to see real benefit from your treatment. However, if you have a milder problem, there may be much less to be gained from treatment. For example, orthodontic treatment:
- Is unlikely to reduce the chances of you having dental decay or gum disease.
- Is less likely to make a real difference to the way that your teeth look if only used for mild treatment and so less likely to make you feel better about yourself.
- May not reduce the risks of your teeth causing damage to your gums.
Top 4 myths about braces:
- Improvement in jaw joint problems. Jaw joint problems have many causes and the way your teeth bite together is just one of them. Brace treatment does not cause jaw joint pain as has been suggested by some people but neither does it cure or help jaw joint pain.
- Speech improvement. Speech patterns are established early in life and brace treatment is not able to change this.
- Improved breathing. Orthodontic treatment is not known to improve breathing patterns except where a condition called sleep apnoea has been identified by an otolaryngologist. Even when this has happened the effects of orthodontic treatment are not certain.
- Visible change in size or position of the jaws. Some orthodontists/dentists have suggested that braces can change the way your face and jaws grow but research has shown that any changes are small and it is unlikely that people will notice such changes.
It is important to understand all of the risks and benefits if you are thinking of having brace treatment – in some cases, the risks may outweigh the benefits and this is particularly true for the milder dental problems.
Your dentist/orthodontist will explain the balance between the benefits and risks of you having braces and this will help you decide if you want to go ahead.
In some countries, including the UK, your dentist/orthodontist will classify how severe your dental problems is and they may only be able to treat problems that are severe. If you are very concerned about your teeth you may still be eligible to have treatment but you need to discuss this with your dentist/orthodontist.
Thiruvenkatachari B, Harrison JE, Worthington HV, O’Brien KD. Orthodontic treatment for prominent upper front teeth (Class II malocclusion) in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Nov 13;(11):CD003452. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003452.pub3.