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Oral Health 2020

Teeth straightening – advice from the professionals

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Peter McCallum

Head of External Relations for British Orthodontic Society

“The increasing demand for orthodontics in the UK is seeing a worrying rise in braces that are provided direct to consumer, without direct consultation with a professional,” Dr Jonathan Sandler, President of The British Orthodontic Society


Orthodontic treatment – teeth straightening – is a rite of passage for around one third of young people in the UK. 

Today, a large number of adults want to get in on the act too. A 2019 survey by the British Orthodontic Society revealed that three quarters (75%) of orthodontists are seeing an increase in adult patients. 

The demand for teeth straightening can be attributed to number of factors; rising expectations from patients, celebrities and social influencers who have opted for teeth straightening treatment, and greater awareness of the benefits of teeth straightening treatment at any stage of life. 

How it works

Orthodontic treatment is carried out to correct irregularities of the teeth or developing jaws and to improve the function and appearance of the mouth and face.

Orthodontic treatment will straighten the teeth or move them into a better position, and this can improve their appearance and the way they bite together, while also making them easier to clean. 

If you are considering orthodontic treatment, it’s a good idea to think carefully before you begin treatment and perhaps speak to friends or relatives about their experiences.

Starting orthodontics is a big decision, and it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion if you are unsure.

Why visit a professional?

What should you be looking for from your provider? It’s a good idea to ask about their experience of orthodontics and whether they are a specialist. Do they offer a choice of braces? Most will offer traditional orthodontic braces, but some will offer aligners too. Do they see patients on referral? It’s essential that you have a clinician who is responsible for your care.

In recent years there has been dramatic growth in websites offering treatment by post – also known as ‘DIY braces’.

These involve impression kits posted to patients, allowing them to create their own moulds. The manufacturers then use the returned impressions to create and send back personalised aligners.

The whole treatment takes place without seeing an orthodontist or dentist to discuss your needs, having your mouth checked properly, or getting proper advice.

This can be fraught with risk. After all, what other dental or medical treatment would you undergo without an in-person evaluation or supervision by a medical professional? 

The British Orthodontic Society and The Oral Heath Foundation have pooled their expertise to launch www.safebrace.org  – a trusted space where anyone interested in teeth straightening can find independent and impartial advice about making the right choice

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from BOS.

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