Will you or your child need braces? The odds are, unfortunately, yes. Perfect teeth, and a perfect bite, are a rarity. Chidsey says most patients that come through Dr. Riccio's office would benefit from some orthodontic adjustment, though how comprehensive that work needs to be varies considerably on a patient to patient basis. Backing up that observation, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) estimates that roughly 75 percent of Americans have some form of a "bad bite."
Another important factor regarding braces is when to get them. The typical candidate is a teenager, someone old enough to have all their permanent teeth and molars come in, but still young enough to make adjustments with minimal intervention.
Orthodontic work can be done earlier, with children as young as 6, but often only when the work is required to repair significant structural issues that will prevent permanent teeth from setting properly, or other oral problems, such as jaw alignment and tooth extraction. This work should only be undertaken after consulting with your family dentist and perhaps even an oral surgeon. The AAO recommends that children participate in a full orthodontic evaluation by age 7.
The key consideration, according to Chidsey, is good oral health. "The cosmetic benefits are obvious," she said. "But it's really done to avoid dental issues. It's about the long-term health benefits. The cosmetics are the icing on the cake."
The bottom line is that properly fitted braces will allow for more thorough brushing and flossing, will help prevent enamel erosion from poor bite, can help alleviate corollary health issues stemming from poor jaw alignment and will often result in a dazzling smile. Anyone -- kids and adults, alike -- can appreciate how cool that is.
- American Association of Orthodontists. "Myths and Facts." Braces.org. (Sept. 9, 2011) http://www.braces.org/mythsandfacts/index.cfm
- American Dental Association. "Braces and Orthodontics." (Sept. 9, 2011) http://www.ada.org/3061.aspx
- Babcock, Pamela. "When to See an Orthodontist." WebMD. Last reviewed Aug. 16, 2011. (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/when-to-see-orthodontist
- Chidsey, Theresa. Treatment coordinator for Dr. Michael Riccio (drmichaelriccio.com). Personal interview. (Sept. 13, 2011)
- KidsHealth. "Braces." Kidshealth.org. (Sept. 8, 2011) http://kidshealth.org/Features.jsp?lic=1&feature=30
- Parenthood. "Braces Chic: Why Tin Grins Are In." Parenthood.com. (Sept. 9, 2011) http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/braces_chic_why_tin_grins_are_in.html/full-view
- Parenthood. "Don't Eat That: Foods to Avoid While Wearing Braces." Parenthood.com. (Sept. 9, 2011) http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/dont_eat_that_foods_to_avoid_while_wearing_braces.html
- Parenthood. "Everything You Need to Know About Braces." Parenthood.com. (Sept. 9, 2011) http://www.parenthood.com/article-topics/everything_you_need_to_know_about_braces.html
- WebMD. "Dental Braces and Retainers." WebMD.com. Reviewed, Feb. 8, 2009. (Sept. 10, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/braces-and-retainers
- WhyBraces. "Braces and Common Teeth Problems." Whybraces.com. (Sept. 8, 2011) http://www.whybraces.com/