The teenage years can be awesome. There are new friends, new experiences, your parents are probably giving you a little bit of freedom, and you’re still years away from the challenges of “adulting.” Yet, we also know how hard this time can be. After all, everyone here at Fresh Orthodontics was a teen once themselves. You’re constantly changing and you’re juggling academics, family, friends, hobbies and a lot of expectations. With so much on your plate, worrying about your smile and feeling ashamed if you’re not happy with how it looks, just compounds some of the stressful parts of middle school and high school. If smile concerns are taking a toll on your self-esteem, you’re not alone.
Straight Teeth and Self-Esteem
Of course, it’s what’s inside that counts. However, unfortunately, first impressions are often based on how we look, and people tend to notice a person’s smile, or lack of it, immediately. Having crooked teeth is hard enough as a grown-up (remember that study we wrote about that found the state of your smile could even affect your ability to get a job?), but for a teen, it can lead to being picked on, plummeting confidence and feeling as if you’re not good enough or don’t fit in. Research has indicated that “irregularities in the teeth and jaws are a cause of teasing and harassment among children” and that these irregularities can throw a wrench in social interactions, relationships, and mental well-being. Since you’re in your formative years, you’re especially vulnerable to mean comments and social slights. While it might just sound like something adults say to make you feel better, when people pick on others, it’s usually because they’re not feeling great about themselves. It still doesn’t make it easier.
It’s not just the threat of teasing or what other people think that leads to having insecurities. At around five- or six-years-old, kids start to develop an awareness of their physical appearance as it relates to their burgeoning self-identity. As you go through rapid changes in the tween and teen years, this focus on appearance intensifies. As you probably know, teenagers tend to compare themselves to their peers and when you feel like you don’t measure up, it’s not fun. Sadly, a survey conducted by Kelton, and sponsored by Invisalign, found that 96% of US teens who aren’t happy with their smile are insecure about their appearance and 30% of respondents were most self-conscious about their teeth.
There are a lot of benefits to having straight teeth including a boost in both your oral and overall health but the cosmetic aspect of a killer smile shouldn’t be overlooked. The Angle Orthodontist published a study that uncovered orthodontic treatment leads to a significant increase in patients’ self-esteem and quality of life. The bottom line is, when you think you look good, you feel good and that carries over into everything else. Confident teens grow and learn because they dive into new experiences, they tend to be more motivated as they’re willing to try and set goals even if failure is a possibility and they’re less likely to fall trap to peer pressure. While straight teeth aren’t the only factor when it comes to confidence, a healthy, beautiful smile certainly helps and years of research proves it.
Dr. Khanna even has firsthand experience. Before he was a Brooklyn orthodontist with the teeth-straightening skills to pay the bills, he had “Bugs Bunny” teeth. After wearing braces to correct his bite, he went from being shy and afraid to smile to rocking out with his high school garage band and becoming the super friendly, outgoing guy his patients know and love. The transformative effect that orthodontic treatment had on him pushed him to want to enter the orthodontic field. In fact, that’s probably why a lot of orthodontists decide to pursue the career path.
Braces Treatment: A Catch-22
While today’s braces are smaller, more comfortable and way more attractive than they were in the past, they still carry the “metal mouth” stigma. That being said, a lot of our patients are totally fine with metal braces and even like having the opportunity to choose their color elastics or customize their tooth jewelry with different shapes of WildSmiles braces to flaunt their personality. For patients with more serious bite problems, braces might be the best option and produce amazing results.
However, some teens are less than thrilled with the idea of metal brackets and wires. The hardware obscures the smile and there are some food restrictions. 41% of teenagers who responded to a survey said they’d be embarrassed to wear metal braces. While the outcome of any treatment is worth it, feeling even more self-conscious throughout the experience isn’t exactly the ideal situation.
For teen patients who dislike their smile but dislike the thought of wearing metal braces almost as much, Invisalign Teen is a great option. While it will depend on your diagnosis and the severity of your orthodontic issues, in many cases, it’s definitely on the treatment choice table. Invisalign Teen straightens teeth using a series of clear, flexible, plastic aligners. They’re comfy, virtually invisible and you can take them out to brush and floss and eat (no food restrictions or broccoli stuck in your brackets!). You can smile confidently for those selfies and class pictures and most likely no one will even notice you’re in the middle of orthodontic treatment. The aligners are designed with a teen’s teeth and jaws in mind and there are even some free replacements thrown in case you lose any, which is something your parents will love.
The technology involved in treatment planning is really, really cool. Dr. Khanna uses his iTero digital scanner to take goop-free impressions. He uploads these digital impressions, your x-rays and photos to create a 3D model of your mouth. He’ll be able to show you exactly what your smile will look like when your treatment is finished (talk about motivating). Dr. Khanna moves each individual tooth into place directly on the computer and sends the specifications off to Invisalign. They create your aligners based on his prescription for a perfect fit and precise straightening. You’ll wear your aligners for about 22 per hours per day and put in a new set every week. Your teeth will shift a little bit closer to their final position until you toss that last pair and get to admire your gorgeous, new smile.
Are you ready to take on high school with confidence? Fresh Orthodontics offers Invisalign Teen in Park Slope at our bright, fun, high-tech office. Schedule your free consultation today and Dr. Khanna will let you know if you’re a candidate for the treatment. Give us a shout and let’s get to work creating your dream smile!