Do kids *need* braces?

There are these ads on TV where, essentially, parents are told that no matter how little money they have, no matter that they don’t have a job, this dental service can make it so they can afford to get braces on their kids. And the idea is that these kids must have braces, now.

So, how often is it that a child must have braces right now, even tho the parent(s) have no money and no job?

Yeah, they do, because being an adult with braces is even more embarrassing.

I don’t know about braces for kids when the parent(s) have no money/job, but I’m pretty sure that orthodontic issues are better addressed sooner than later. Sometimes teeth need to be extracted to make room for all the shifting around. For people getting orthodontic work as adults, the orthodontist is not dealing with making room for teeth; s/he is dealing with what happens when there wasn’t enough room for teeth when the kid was 13.

Not everything addressed by orthodontics is cosmetic. Some of it has to do with function.

Mr. Sali had about half again as many teeth as a normal human, there were teeth growing in front of his already crowded teeth. He had extractions and braces when he was a working adult because his parents wouldn’t/couldn’t pay for it all, and he had braces for years and years and years…I, too, had braces when I was in my 20’s (same reason, parents couldn’t/wouldn’t cough up and I just would have spent my salary foolishly), but my teeth straightened out really fast. Need I say daughter got braces, too? Though we, breaking the cycle, paid for them when she was a child and hardly making any money working at all.

I had braces as a kid, and I hated them. I would not want to have them as an adult. So yes I believe getting it over with early in life would be better than waiting. You may get picked on a little but from experience I would have to say that it makes a big differance having nice teeth as an adult.

See, that’s what I was wondering - how often are braces more than cosmetic? These ads that I’m seeing make it sound like it’s a given that all kids “need” braces. (It doesn’t help that the kids in the ads seem to have perfect teeth…)

All righty, I have four sons, and I have lousy teeth, and I had braces as a kid and needed them.

My husband has perfect teeth, never had braces, and had one cavity in his life.

Out of four sons, three got my teeth and needed braces. The fourth and luckiest in this regard was checked by an orthodontist who said, “No, he’s fine. No issues.”

I thought they could always find something, but apparently not.

Even if they are just cosmetic, who cares? I didn’t want teeth sticking straight out when I was a kid and my dentist wanted me not to have inaccessible dental caves in my mouth that I couldn’t reach with a toothbrush.

Small jaws run in my family. I had to have a couple of teeth extracted, and one that wasn’t grew in at a weird angle. My parents only had enough money to get one set of teeth fixed – and that went to my sister, whose mouth was even more screwed up than mine.

same, and my brother had 4 teeth that had to be removed, and a spreader to widen his bite somehow [I didnt have the same issue, just a really wicked overbite and some misaligned teeth but not as bad as some people that can have trouble chewing properly.]

Yes, the majority of children born these days have deformed jaws with severe crowding of teeth. It’s very beneficial to try to correct this. When your teeth are crooked and crowded it provides even more opportunity for decay (I don’t need to tell anyone that the majority of children get cavities, as well).

This is a little off-topic, but do most people need wisdom tooth extraction? I once heard that the reason wisdom teeth came in so late was to replace molars our Noble Savage ancestors would nearly always lose due to a lack of modern dentistry in the Edenic Forest Primeval.

Out of curiosity, was this sarcasm?

My husband is one of those perfect teeth guys (good thing since his folks were very poor) but I had a total mess in my mouth. I shudder to think what it would have been like if I’d waited until adulthood, esp. if I hadn’t had the lower wisdom teeth removed either.

Some cases are just cosmetic–my Russian SIL got braces as an adult to correct a gap in her front teeth. No braces available for that sort of thing in the USSR, but here she would have had it fixed at 14.

My teeth looked perfect, and still do. But I had braces twice - when I was 18 and when I was 26 - for non-cosmetic reasons due to a bum jaw.

Don’t forget that braces are the only part of orthodontia you really see. I had palate stretching, retainers of various sorts and temporary implants before and after my braces. None of that stuff would have been obvious to someone who wasn’t staring inside my mouth. The whole thing cost about $3k each time and took a year or two to complete the process. And, like I said, my teeth weren’t even noticeably out of whack. They just fit together improperly.

You really don’t want your kid’s “ugly” teeth to turn into full-blown bite problem. If you align them properly when they’re young, they can hope to be worry-free later on.

Medically, no, only a fragment of the population need them (a quarter? a third? sorry, I don’t have a dentist handy): just having irregular teeth is not medical reason enough for braces.

Societally, in the US more people need them than in other countries. The default value has become “perfect teeth;” dark or very irregular teeth are instinctively considered a sign of bad hygyene (in the sense of preventive medical care, not cleanliness). If you have dark teeth, people assume that you smoke like a chimney (I’ve had to explain the secondary effects of bystracycline on teeth to several coworkers); if you have irregular teeth, people assume that you either grew up in a trailer in the assend of Appalachia or never gave a hoot about your dental health.

Would you want your first impression in an interview to be “someone who doesn’t take care of his health at all”?

If you do need braces, it’s better to get them as a child; among other things, there are parts of an adult’s bones which are cartilage in a child; getting cartilage to take “the right shape” is easier than doing the same with bone.
PS: my horribly misaligned teeth have perfect bite. If I ever get to work in the US again, I’m asking my dentist for a certificate, it’s absurd how many times this has come up.

My upper jaw wasn’t wide enough to accommodate all my teeth. If you are below a certain age, the bones in your jaw won’t have fully fused, and they can simply install a spreader on the roof of your mouth and slowly expand the jaw.

My parents skipped the orthodontics for me (but not my sisters!) and so I had to have the bone in my jaw surgically severed when I was 22 years old and then get the spreader installed. Not cool. Especially after a 1 cm hole opened up between my front two teeth. Thank god I already knew my wife or I’d never have found anyone.

Anyway, this is one case in which waiting lead directly to surgery that wouldn’t have been required on an adolescent.

Nothing screams “low life” more than bad teeth.

Take a picture of a supermodel and black-out a tooth. (It’s something that is not uncommon to see on posters in the subway that someone with a marker has defaced.) The appearance of the model goes from irresistibly hot to laughably unattractive.

The principle holds true for average people. Why, if it is correctable, saddle your kids with bad teeth?

I didn’t have braces as a kid, though I perhaps should have. Just recently, I decided to do something about my crooked teeth, and I did Invisalign. It worked great, and was surprisingly easy and convenient. There was a little achiness for a day or two after changing aligners (every two weeks), but that was about it. Because you remove the aligners to eat, brush and floss, you avoid a lot of the annoyances that I understand come with traditional braces. And, of course, they’re much nicer cosmetically (most people truly didn’t know I had them on until I told them).

So, if you’re an adult with crooked teeth and are concerned about being embarrassed or inconvenienced by braces, it might be worth taking a look at Invisalign. My understanding is that it only really works well with mild or moderate crookedness – I think if your teeth are really badly out of alignment, you’d probably need to take another approach. But my lower teeth were pretty crowded, and it worked really well on them.

(obDisclaimer: not a dentist, orthodontist or any type of expert. Also not affiliated with Invisalign in any way – just a happy customer)

A dentist at least convinced my parents that I “needed” braces, because two of my teeth were allegedly going to crack from the way that they were hitting. Whether this was a true necessity or not, I haven’t a clue, but the theory is at least being used.

Is this a whoosh? :confused:

The ads are specifically about braces tho.

But, is it something that should be done when the parents are unemployed and having trouble paying bills? That is what is going on in these ads - it starts out with the set up that explains that the parent(s) are having serious financial problems, then we have the kid asking for braces (:confused::confused::confused:), then the part about how the dental service will make it affordable. I just feel like the dental service is pushing something that most kids don’t need, at a time when many parents shouldn’t be buying. It’s not like a bite problem is always (usually?) that much of an issue - I have a bite problem and it certainly isn’t impacting my life much.