Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Urban Legends of the Orthodontic World

Urban Legends of the Orthodontic World

There are a lot of urban legends and myths about orthodontists and their services. Some of these have become so commonplace that they are now inseparable from the actual facts. As an orthodontist, I feel it is my responsibility to educate both my patients and the public so that they can have a clear understanding of what I do and how I can help them. With that in mind, I’d like to take a few minutes to debunk some of the common orthodontic urban legends and myths.

Myth One: I don’t need an orthodontist because my general dentist can take care of the problem.

 While your general dentist is undoubtedly a talented and educated professional, when you have a dental issue that falls into the realm of orthodontics you should see a specialist (orthodontist). Why? Orthodontists receive more specialized formal education than a general dentist. Not only do orthodontists complete four years of dental school, they also receive 2-3 additional years of intensive clinical and didactic training. This greater knowledge base allows for more efficient treatment times with more consistent treatment results.

Myth Two: Only children or teens need to visit an orthodontist. 

Some people believe that braces are only for children or teens. They are often surprised to find that orthodontists treat adults on a regular basis. In fact, the number of adult patients is on the rise. According to the New York Times, between 1994 and 2010, the number of Americans over 18 getting either braces or some type of teeth-straightening treatment from an orthodontist went from 680,000 per year to 1.1. million per year (Newman, 2012). Adult patients now make up approximately 22% of orthodontic patients in the US. No matter your age, dental health and a dazzling smile can be achieved and often times, orthodontics is a key component in reaching that goal.

Myth Three: Braces are just for cosmetic purposes and aren’t necessary for my dental health.

While braces can definitely help you get that beautiful smile, they aren’t just for cosmetic improvement. Well aligned teeth can facilitate good oral hygiene making it easier to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, resolving certiain orthodontic problms with the use of braces can improve your ability to speak, chew, and even breathe.

Myth Four: Getting braces is extremely painful. 

Adults and children alike often associate braces with pain. This may stem from a painful dental experience in the past. Fortunately, there is no pain involved in putting on braces or adjusting the wires. Only several hours after the proceduere do the teeth become sensitive to pressure. This pain is not a toothache. The teeth only hurt when they are biting into solid foods. If the teeth are apart, no pain is felt. This sensitivity to pressure gradually diminishes over the coure of 2-4 days. If you ever feel a sharp or stabbing pain that is persistent consult with your orthodontist to make sure there aren't any problems.

Myth Five: My braces will set off metal detectors (like those in airports) and cause me to be struck by lightning.

 No, none of the above. Braces can be made of a variety of materials; however, metal alloys are the most common material. Because the metal used is so light weight, they will not trigger any security systems in the airport or anywhere else. As for lightning, with or without braces your chances of gettting struck by lightning are the same. 1 out of 775,000 (Dr. Cooper, n.d.).

These are just a few of the urban legends and myths associated with orthodontics. If you have additional concerns or questions about orthodontics and orthodontists feel free to set up an initial consultation with me. I’ll be happy to provide you with all the information you are looking for.


Cooper, M. A. (n.d.). Medical Aspects of Lightning. Retrieved from

Newman, A. A. (2012). Orthodontists Market to Adults Seeking Prettier Smiles. Retrieved from