The orthodontist leaned forward, smiled and said those four little words that every parent cringes when heard, "Your child needs braces".
Several months ago, my 11-year-old daughter was evaluated and given a plan to begin orthodontic treatment. Phase I of the plan called for a palate expander, a device placed in the roof of the mouth to make it wider and give the teeth more room; and Phase II, braces for 36 months followed by a period of retainer wear of no less than two years. The total cost: $5,280. After speaking to several of my close gal friends who also have their children in orthodontic treatment, this astronomical amount of money seems to be the going rate for braces. Seems nowadays there are more kids with braces than not. Are our teeth getting worse? Probably not. But we are an increasingly looks-conscious society. And the availability of dental insurance has made orthodontics more affordable for some. As a result, orthodontists are making more money! After doing some research, I learned that the number of North American kids and adults getting orthodontic treatment nearly doubled to 4.4 million, from about 2.5 million in past years.
Naturally, I didn't like the idea of spending this amount of money, but it was clear that my daughter needed treatment. Her upper jaw is narrow and restricted and she has significant crowding in both the upper and lower arches. Today's braces are made with a lighter wire and are far more flexible than in my day. Instead of using heavy metal bands around the teeth, orthodontists now use small brackets bonded onto the front surfaces of the teeth and newer arch wires that are attached to those brackets. So, cosmetically, they look so much better than 15 years ago. Kids like that they can choose colorful rubberbands that go around the brackets. My daughter anticipated getting braces with much excitement and she chose purple and black for the Baltimore Ravens, of course!
I am confident in our orthodontist and am hopeful that proper treatment will repair my daughter's crooked teeth and bring out her beautiful smile!