It may seem unlikely but the metal braces that have historically been the source of playground ridicule have become reinvented as a must-have fashion accessory[i].
Earlier this year, model Kitty Hayes adorned the cover of the trendy American fashion bible, CR Fashion Book, sporting a wide grin with bright turquoise and metal orthodontia. This was taken a few steps further during New York Fashion week when designer Shayne Oliver presented male models strutting the catwalk strangely wearing stockings over their faces and dental grills padlocked together in their mouths. Whilst this particular fashion trend is unlikely to catch on, there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for orthodontic treatments, which consequently means some class them as ‘fashionable’.
One report from the Orthodontic Department of the University Dental Hospital and School in Cardiff published statistics on this subject in February 2015. A comparison was made between the number of adults who had completed orthodontic treatment during 2008 and those who had in 2012; an increase of 70% was recorded[ii]. Furthermore, in 2013 the NHS reported that 11% of their annual spend on dentistry was for orthodontic treatments, equating to £261m[iii].
There is little doubt on the aesthetic benefits of straight teeth, showcased recently by celebrities such as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and Tom Cruise, inspiring many to take a similar course of action. However, orthodontic procedures have long been in demand amongst all age groups to combat the ill effects of crowded and crooked teeth. The reasons patients choose to embark upon a course of treatment with an orthodontist are varied but they generally fall under three main categories – dental health, psychological wellbeing and social wellbeing[iv]. Having a smile you are comfortable with is bound to have a positive impact on your contentment both psychologically and socially.
However, the dental health aspects of orthodontics are more involved. There is evidence to show specific types of malocclusion such as palatally displaced maxillary canines result in damage to the roots of surrounding teeth, putting forward the case for tooth straightening[v]. Another concern is the damage that overcrowded teeth do to functionality – in some cases causing difficulty in eating or social embarrassment. Additionally, it is obviously easier to effectively clean less crowded or misaligned teeth. As exemplary oral hygiene is the one essential component in the quest to prevent periodontal disease (an on-going concern amongst the adult population in the UK), it follows that orthodontic solutions are justifiably in high demand.
Ironically, however, the braces used to achieve perfectly aligned teeth constitute a risk to oral hygiene themselves, whilst in place. The American Association of Orthodontists produced the results of a study in 2011 that looked at the levels of plaque build up in those who had fixed dental orthodontic appliances. All 52 participants using multi-bracketed appliances were undergoing treatment in the Department of Orthodontics at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany. It was found that plaque coverage was extremely high and 2-3 times higher than levels observed in high plaque-forming adults without appliances. Therefore, improved hygiene regimens and compliance are necessary in these dental patients[vi].
Patients receiving orthodontic treatment need to adopt a routine that not only combats the accumulation of plaque but also helps to allay the other, less favourable side effects of wearing dental braces. Some of these include mouth ulcers arising from the uncomfortable motion of metal rubbing against the inside of the cheeks or lips and the resulting malodour from the inevitable build up of debris trapped amid the fixed appliances. However, as most dental professionals will agree, perhaps the hardest part is motivating patients to comply with the stringent standards of oral hygiene needed throughout this process. Being able to offer specific oral adjuncts that when used correctly and regularly, will help reduce the time involved in achieving excellent results, enables a greater level of patient compliance.
The Danish company Tandex has been developing specialist dental adjuncts for over eighty years and produce a kit that specifically helps to clean dental appliances efficiently. The Tandex Orthodontic Kit™ has been designed in collaboration with dentists and hygienists and includes a dental wax to combat or soothe mouth ulcers, a variety of specialist brushes to enable effective interdental brushing and an antibacterial, enamel strengthening and protecting mouthwash.
The journey towards the goal of a beautiful Hollywood smile can be problematic, painful and risky. However, with careful planning and the use of expert adjuncts the results will have patients smiling from ear to ear.
[i] It's a teenage dream! Braces become spring's newest trend as fashion industry casts models with mouths full of metal, Erica Tempesta for Dailymail.com, March 2015. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article2976007/Braces-spring-s-newest-trend-fashion-industry-casts-models-mouths-metal.html (Accessed 13/10/2015)
[ii] Report Prepared by Professor Stephen Richmond, Orthodontic Department, Applied Clinical Research and Public Health, University Dental Hospital and School, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XY. http://gov.wales/docs/dhss/publications/150515dentalen.pdf (Accessed 14/9/2015)
[iii] What is the value of orthodontic treatment? Philip E Benson PhD FDS, Hanieh Javidi BDS, MFDS MDPH, Andrew T Dibiase BDS, MSc, FDS,
[iv] What is the value of orthodontic treatment? Philip E Benson PhD FDS, Hanieh Javidi BDS, MFDS MDPH, Andrew T Dibiase BDS, MSc, FDS,
[vi] Plaque Levels Of Patients With Fixed Orthodontic Appliances Measured by Digital Plaque Image Analysis, Klukowska M, Bader A, Erbe C, Bellamy P, White DJ, Anastasia MK, Wehrbein H, May 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21536188 (Accessed 14/10/2015)
Author Rachel Pointer qualified from Guys Hospital as a dental hygienist and began work in general dental practice in Hertfordshire. After working as staff hygienist for Professor Naylor she was appointed tutor dental hygienist at Guys Hospital before working in Australia. Rachel has experience in hospital, specialist periodontal practice and in the private sector as well as setting up a PDU within a cerebral palsy home in Essex. Working for 10 years for the British Dental Hygienists Association as their information officer plus membership and careers co-ordinator she presently works at Addenbrookes Hospital and in general dental practice and a few year ago branched out to teach in a Montessori school setting.