Orthodontics tops teen wish list

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There are many different ways to correct or perfect your child’s teeth, but the consequences can be disastrous if you don’t seek advice from a registered specialist orthodontist.   

Dr Philip Green, a local member of the New Zealand Association of Orthodontists (NZAO), says the widespread acceptance of orthodontic treatment, in particular the wearing of braces, has seen many teenagers place orthodontic treatment at the top of their wish list.

New Zealand’s own online sensation Jamie Curry and former world No. 2 motocross racer Josh Coppins are just two of the many teen icons who have sought the benefits of orthodontic treatment – along with many A-list celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Justin Beiber, Gwen Stefani and supermodel Heidi Klum.     

Dr Green says the acceptance of orthodontics among Hollywood’s elite has dramatically changed the public perception of having braces.

“Our members have seen patients’ breakdown in tears because, in some cases, they have to wait for their mouth to finish growing before they can have orthodontic treatment. Parents aren’t aware that not having a beautiful smile is actually causing a level of teenage angst in young people, and that they are in fact happy to have braces.”

But Dr Green sounds a note of caution to both teenagers and their parents footing the bill about the importance of seeing a specialist.

In a national NZAO survey, two-thirds of the association’s members reported they had experienced patients seeking corrective treatment as a result of treatment by other non-specialist practitioners delivering “orthodontic treatment outside of their professional expertise”.  

“The range of orthodontic treatments available these days means it’s critically important for patients to receive the right treatment,” he said. 

“As specialists, we know what is appropriate for you or your child including if treatment is required, when to start treatment and what treatment options will achieve the best results for your smile and financial investment.”

All NZAO members have completed an additional two to three years of full-time university study and work with braces and orthodontic procedures every day.

“We develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to the individual no matter what the issue – whether it’s crowding, an overbite or protruding top teeth, there is always a solution.”

Back in the day, braces conjured up images of a mouth full of metal and those who wore them were sometimes ridiculed, but Dr Green says that’s not the case anymore. 

The fun of coloured braces and unobtrusive clear ceramic braces are not only making orthodontic treatment more accessible for young people but are effectively becoming another way for teenagers to express themselves.

“Whether patients are matching their braces to a formal dress or their favourite sporting team, putting a bit of fun in the treatment not only benefits the patient but has allowed braces to become a bit of a fashion statement.”

Dr Green says the best results can be achieved under the care of a specialist orthodontist using conventional, stainless steel braces which are smaller and more comfortable than in the past. 

Treatment involving teenagers usually lasts 18-24 months, and because payment plans can be spread over the total treatment time, many families are finding orthodontics to be surprisingly affordable.  

“Just like a gym membership or tuition fees for a musical instrument, orthodontics is a solid investment in a child’s future.”    

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