5 Reasons Parents Avoid Braces For Their Children

An estimated 4 million people in the United States wear braces – about double the total back in the 1980s.
Roughly 80 percent of those undergoing orthodontic care are children. Advances in appliances and the benefits parents see from their children wearing braces – a nicer smile, better dental health, a boost to self-esteem and confidence – have been factors convincing parents to fit their kids with braces.
Yet some parents still have reservations, which often start with the increased costs.
“This isn’t just a cosmetic issue,” says Dr. Michael McCarthy, DMD, author of the new book The Smile of Your Dreams (bhamorthodontics.com). “Misaligned, crooked teeth equal significant medical problems, from chronic headaches to gum disease and its links to diabetes, heart disease and the loss of natural teeth altogether.
“While getting braces as an adult it still an option, the process is much easier and less painful if orthodontic corrections are made as a child. In the teenage years, failure to spend even $4,000 can easily create a $40,000 full-mouth restoration case at age 40 or 50.”
Dr. McCarthy gives five reasons parents avoid orthodontic treatment for their children and counters them:
  • Cost. Parents often blanch at the cost of braces, which according to the American Dental Association (ADA) average over $5,000 for children. The cost depends mainly on the length of time the child will wear braces, and the type of treatment. “For traditional braces, for example, cost is calculated in part by the number of visits required over a one-year to three-year period,” Dr. McCarthy says. “With Invisalign, cost is determined by the number of aligners needed. Payment plans, insurance, and other financing options provide flexibility, but also look at it this way: Parents justify enormous costs for their kids’ college. Parents understand that it’s about the benefits for 40-50 years after college. I assure you, it’s the same with braces.”
  • Pain. Pain in the teeth and jaw can occur in the first few weeks of wearing braces. The braces hurt because the wires and brackets are new to the mouth and actively moving the teeth. “Most modern technology has brought a pain-free experience,” Dr. McCarthy says. “And your mouth eventually adjusts to the braces and becomes more accustomed to the strain of adjustments.”
  • Time. “Regardless of the type of orthodontic procedure your child needs, time is of the essence,” Dr. McCarthy says. “Modern technology and ease of access allows orthodontists to work around your child’s school schedule with minimal absences and short appointments.”
  • No urgency. “For a variety of reasons, parents may put orthodontics off for their child or not grasp the reasons – from emotional, to dental and social – that straightened teeth are important,” Dr. McCarthy says. “Orthodontic irregularities don’t just heal on their own or disappear if you ignore them. Your child’s smile and overall dental health are too important to ignore out of questions of pain, convenience, or even price.”
  • Bad previous experience. Parents may have experienced an indifference or a cold chair-side manner of a previous orthodontist and backed out of treatment. “Not all dentists or orthodontists are created equal,” Dr. McCarthy says. “You need a specialist not only with up-to-date technology, but sensitive service as well.”
“No parent wants their children to suffer from the effects of crooked teeth, including the insecurity,” Dr. McCarthy says. “The formative years are the most sensitive time for them and their teeth, thus the best time for braces and the positive impact on their lives.”
About Dr. Michael McCarthy
Dr. Michael McCarthy, DMD, received his orthodontic training while serving in the military.  During his 10 years in the US Army, Dr. McCarthy rose to the rank of major and served as a Green Beret. Dr. McCarthy author of the new book The Smile of Your Dreams (bhamorthodontics.com), is a board-certified orthodontist with more than 25 years of experience. He has been recognized as one of America’s top dentists by the Consumer Research Council every year for the past decade.