Stigma around braces a thing of the past

New research* from peak industry body, the Australian Society of Orthodontists (ASO), confirms that attitudes towards braces have shifted significantly in recent years, with 7 in 10 children reacting with happiness or excitement to the news they need braces. The study of registered specialist orthodontists in Australia also found that:

  • 94% of orthodontists have experienced parents bringing their child in for a consultation because the child wants braces;
  • 9 in 10 orthodontists have witnessed a child became visibly upset when told they didn’t need braces.

With modern treatment options a far cry from the clunky and uncomfortable metal frames once endured by previous generations, the change in attitudes towards braces comes as no surprise to the ASO.

ASO spokesperson and practicing specialist orthodontist, Dr David Mastroianni, says the research findings are reflective of patients’ attitudes across Australia.

“The industry has observed a shift in attitudes towards braces and orthodontic treatment first hand. We now have children coming in for consultations, not because they’ve been referred by their dentist, but because the child wants braces,” says Dr Mastroianni. “In fact, it’s not uncommon for children to be upset when told they don’t need braces. Ten years ago this was not the case.”

Regardless of how children feel about braces, it is the role of the orthodontist to determine whether orthodontic treatment is in fact the right course of action for the individual.

“There’s no denying that braces can be one of the best things you can do for your child and no one’s questioning the benefits, but it’s our responsibility, as specialist orthodontists, to distinguish the ‘need’ from the ‘want’ to determine the best course of action, if any, is required.”

Dr Mastroianni credits new technologies and the vast array of colours now on offer as the driving forces behind the big shift in attitudes.

“With advances in technology, braces today are not only small and comfortable, but offer coloured or glow-in-the-dark options. Teens across the country are embracing their orthodontic treatment to personalise their look – it’s all about the colour!” says Dr Mastroianni.

According to the Australian Society of Orthodontists, one of the most common questions asked by parents in regard to orthodontic treatment is around the appropriate age to take a child for their first orthodontic consultation.

“The ASO recommends parents book their children in for an initial consultation between the ages of seven and ten. Early assessment allows the orthodontist to determine what type of treatment, if any, is needed, and when it should commence in order to possibly reduce cost and duration of treatment down the track,” says Dr Mastroianni.

To help parents navigate their family’s orthodontic journey, the ASO has launched a free educational eBook, available for download here

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