The brace face of DIY dentistry – Dr Christoph Fiolka

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  Posted by: Dental Design      14th December 2018

The early 2000s saw Ugly Betty and Finding Nemo’s Darla mocked for their notorious brace faces. These days, however, braces are highly sought after as a trendy and stylish method of improving the appearance of teeth. A recent survey conducted by the British Orthodontic Society (BOS) revealed that many practices have seen an increase in the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment, with those aged between 24 and 40 making up the majority.[i]The key driver of treatment appears to be a heightened awareness of the available options in orthodontics, combined with rising expectations of how it can positively impact an individual’s appearance and well-being.


The desire for straight, white teeth has filtered down to younger generations, who are – quite literally – embracing the trend. The latest research from the Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO) found that 94% of clinicians have experienced a parent bringing their child into the practice for a consultation as a result of the child wanting braces.[ii]This may be due to a shift in attitudes towards aesthetic dentistry, as patients not only want their teeth to feelhealthy, but lookhealthy too. In addition, modern treatment options are now a far cry from the clunky, uncomfortable metal braces endured by previous generations of patients. Advances in technology have meant that people can wear discreet, near-invisible braces, or more colourful, eye-catching solutions that can be customised to suit each individual’s unique look.


The facility to personalise orthodontic treatment in this way makes it incredibly appealing, particularly to the selfie-obsessed Generation Z. Popular culture is frequently blamed for having the most significant influence on this group of individuals. The rise of beauty vloggers and the desire to have the “Love Island” smile mean that children and young adults are growing up with increasing pressure to look a certain way. This is further fuelled by the influence of celebrities on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.


Although some children and young adults can afford private orthodontics – often via The Bank of Mum and Dad – for many others, it remains an expensive procedure on an NHS budget, which only funds braces for those with a “clear health need”. This is a particular concern for young people, whose insecurities regarding their looks can lead to some resorting to dangerous short cuts in order to achieve “perfect” straight teeth. In fact, there has been a surge in the number of do-it-yourself YouTube tutorials that feature teenagers offering a cheap way to create and fit your own “braces”, without having to invest in professional treatment.  


Evidently, these DIY brace solutions can have devastating consequences on the health of patients’ teeth. Although moving teeth seems like an attractive idea to young patients, they may be oblivious to the fact that the colour of the tooth can change as a result of damage to the blood supply. This can lead to problems in the gums, causing severe inflammation and infection. If a patient’s oral health is in a poor condition, then amateur orthodontic procedures could also exacerbate existing problems, creating even more unsightly gaps in the teeth. More serious complications include the risk of bone loss, tooth root damage, and even tooth loss in extreme cases, which can prove more costly to repair than paying for professional orthodontic appliances in the first place.[iii]


This emphasises the importance of educating patients about the value in professional orthodontics as the safest, most reliable way to achieve straight teeth and enhance the appearance of their smile. Expertise in this area requires knowledge of teeth biology and the physics of moving them, and creating the “ideal” smile has the nuance of an art form. Patients who do undergo procedures for braces should be advised on how to maintain their new look with effective dental products and adjuncts.


There are solutions available that can make oral healthcare routines much simpler and easier for patients with braces, who frequently struggle to clean hard-to-reach areas of the oral cavity. Innovative devices such as the Hydrosonic Ortho toothbrush from leading healthcare specialist, Curaprox, features CURACURVE® ergonomics and soft CUREN® bristles to facilitate efficient cleaning between teeth and orthodontic appliances. This enables patients to maintain the health and appearance of their teeth following orthodontic treatment.


Nowadays, there are an array of modern DIY beauty hacks we can take advantage of but dental work is undeniably best left to the professionals. Patients who take dentistry into their own hands are inevitably going to encounter complications. While £1 elastic bands may seem like a great price to pay for a straight, gap-free smile, we all have one set of adult teeth, and it is crucial practitioners remind patients of this fact to ensure they treat their smile with care.


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[i]British Orthodontic Society. (2018) New BOS survey released for National Smile Month reveals the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment in the UK continues to rise. Link: [Last accessed: 21.08.18].

[ii]Australian Society of Orthodontists. (2018) Stigma around braces a thing of the past. Link: [Last accessed: 21.08.18].

[iii]Behrents, R. G. (2014) Consumer alert on the use of elastics as “gap bands”. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 146: 271-272. Link: [Last accessed: 21.08.18].

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