Pretty braces might not yield the prettiest teeth

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 7th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Being taunted in middle school with names like metal mouth or brace face might not have been such a bad thing after all.

While teens today beg their parents for clear or ceramic braces and plastic orthodontic trays, it turns out that the most effective braces for giving you perfect pearly whites are also considered least attractive to wear.

According to survey findings published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, the more aesthetic the braces, the more difficult they are for orthodontists to manage.

Two-hundred adults were questioned using a computer-based survey that showed standardized images of teeth with a variety of orthodontic appliances. The public considered dental appliances with no visible metal to be most attractive, while braces with metal brackets and wires were the least aesthetic option.

Participants rated the appliances using a range from extremely unattractive to extremely attractive on a scale of one to one-hundred. The study did not ask respondents about the attractiveness of colorful and decorative ligatures that can attach wires to braces.

While stainless steel braces ranked lowest, experts say they are the most durable and efficient at moving teeth. More aesthetic braces such as ceramic appliances were ranked as more attractive, but can break and are more delicate for orthodontists to work with.

About one in four patients fitted with braces are adults… and they’re the ones who are most likely to be concerned with appliance aesthetics.