Braces used to be just for teens. But today, more than ever, adults too are undergoing orthodontic treatment to correct crooked teeth, achieve a perfect smile and improve their bite.
In fact, there is no doubt straighter teeth are not only more attractive, once aligned, they’re a lot easier to keep clean, too – without those awkward crevices, tight gaps and hidden edges to find. These days, the options for how you reach this goal of a fab smile are plentiful – and they don’t have to be the ‘railway track’ appliances of yesteryear. Many dental practices now offer much more discreet options such as clear aligners, porcelain braces and back-of-the-teeth lingual orthodontics.
But it’s not just about addressing imperfections simply to satisfy a personal desire for an aesthetically pleasing smile. In a world driven by social media and a burgeoning culture of ‘selfies’ and celebrities, more and more of us believe that a smile goes a long way in the world of business as well as in our personal relationships.
Crooked teeth can have a negative impact on our ability to smile – and on our confidence – and, often, a closed mouth smile can mistakenly be interpreted as rude or unfriendly, creating an imaginary wall that can hinder making a connection with people.
In a competitive job market, this doesn’t bode well, especially when, these days, there is a need to make a greater impression. A smile is one of the first things we notice and we all make judgements of people within the first few seconds of meeting. It’s the same in the dating game – a great smile matters!
In fact, there have been many studies on the social benefits of appearance and wellbeing in modern society, with many demonstrating how this 'bias for beauty' operates in almost all social situations. Put simply, we all react more favourably to physically attractive people.
A recent survey  confirmed this social awareness, revealing that 85% of people have their teeth straightened for psychosocial reasons.
Of these, 42% wanted to improve confidence and overcome shyness, almost 50% hoped to be able to smile more in photographs and 9% wanted to smile without a hand in front of their mouths.
Relationship issues, divorce, improving job prospects and a significant event –such as an upcoming wedding – were also cited in the poll as reasons for improving a smile.
But, if a perfect smile is the top of the wish list for many of us – it’s important we don’t ruin it by less than perfect dental hygiene habits.
Melonie Prebble is a dental therapist who understands only too well the health benefits of straighter teeth – and the pitfalls of neglecting cleaning when undergoing treatment.
She explains: ‘Plaque accumulates and stagnates in tighter, overcrowded mouths causing gum inflammation, poor dental hygiene, periodontal disease and unsightly stains. Straighter teeth make the task of dental hygiene so much easier as it’s simpler to clean teeth when they are in one straight row. It also means food doesn’t get trapped and people can smile happily, without the fear of hidden food debris hanging around.
‘Orthodontic treatment is at an exciting time and a time of great change – whether the goal is a nicer smile, an improved appearance, or a better bite, the results can change lives. I have witnessed so many patients go through teeth straightening who immediately find that their dental hygiene becomes a much simpler task. Straighter teeth also creates confidence – a person who knows they are less likely to have nasty bacteria hanging around can smile more and is far less likely to have bad breath.’
‘Regular hygiene is paramount to ensuring treatment is successful and keeps at bay the risk of dental disease. It’s a great idea to visit your dental hygienist or therapist for plaque and gum checks and ensure your mouth stays in tip-top condition throughout treatment. Let’s face it, there is very little point is straight teeth if you have unhealthy gums. Optimum dental health equals a successful outcome – the two go hand in hand!’
Melonie adds: ‘Your dental hygienist or dental therapist can demonstrate appropriate techniques to help patients find effective cleaning “tools” specific to the needs of their mouths. Whatever you choose, straightening teeth is now such a simple process – and we are there to help you on the journey. People never regret having the treatment – in fact, many wish they had done it sooner!’
1. Survey conducted by The Invisible Orthodontic Group amongst all its member practices during July 2015
Brace yourselves! 16 reasons why adults seek straighter teeth…
· Career prospects
· An impending landmark event such as a wedding
· To improve personal relationships
· To improve their dating prospects
· To improve confidence and overcome shyness
· To be able to smile more in photographs
· To smile without a hand in front of their mouths
· To tackle issues relating to bullying and teasing
· To improve career prospects
· To be taken more seriously in a professional working environment
· To perform better in the boardroom or during corporate presentations
· To help get a new job
· To improve their chances of appealing to a significant other
· To attract a new partner after divorce or a relationship split
· To improve chances of attracting a date via sites such as Tinder, where they are judged purely by their appearance
· To improve their smile for an impending wedding
Hygiene regime: 4 tips for healthy teeth
· If you opt for, be aware that the brackets and wires can be very difficult to clean around. Your dental hygienist or therapist can help you find the best tools– and avoid damage to the applianc
· Removable braces make it easier to keep your teeth clean, allowing for good dental hygiene habits and reducing the risk of dental disease, such as tooth decay. Because you can remove the appliance, you have the opportunity to clean your teeth, the spaces between your teeth and the gum line far more effectively. You can also discreetly clear all food debris following meals and then pop your appliance back in
· Once straightened, flossing is less problematic especially for those whose dexterity can prove challenging
· For those less keen on using dental floss, straight teeth can create more uniform gaps and make it easier to use small brushes to clean in between.