Video: time-lapse of braces straightening teeth


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Our kid’s dentist has already declared that our two year old will need braces. Having had extensive orthodontic work done as a kid (think Tim Burtons’ Willy Wonka), I can’t help but think that unless he starts to sport a narwhal tusk, I could never make my kid go through that kind of trauma.

Basically, I don’t trust orthodonticists. It seems like so much of what they push is purely cosmetic, and therefore firmly in the realm of socially constructed ideations of beauty which are so often superficial and flawed. And I can’t escape the thought that they push it on kids because it takes advantage of deep seated fears in their parents coupled with the innate vulnerabilities of children.


Ow. I remember getting that done. And while my case wasn’t as bad, it still hurt.

this. my teeth are way worse than the “before” teeth in the video. was never ostracized for it by me peers (that I could tell) and when the time came, I was as successful with the ladies as could reasonably be hoped for, maybe even better.

there are instances where it is no doubt necessary (akin to reconstructive vs cosmetic surgery,) but ortho seems to be mainly fearmongering to leech bucks out of your wallet.

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But it’s covered under your dental plan!


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I had orthodontia for five years. Two years of head gear, three years of braces, a bunch of teeth pulled (including all four wisdom teeth) and you know, it wasn’t all that bad. The worst of the pain for me with the braces was kind of a vaguely ichy feeling, a kind of very dull ache. Which was a relief after the sheer embarrassment of the headgear.Much better to have gotten all that done at the ages of 11-16 than have had to be an adult with a massive overbite and then a myriad of tooth problems resulting from overcrowding.

My only regret is that I think they underestimated the tooth crowding on the bottom, life would be easier if they’d pulled another tooth from the bottom.

  1. You can’t know at 2 years old. Even x-rays won’t give the full story at that point. Don’t use that dentist’s recommendation for an orthodontist when/if the time comes.

  2. Misalignment can affect tooth and gum health and also cause jaw pain. It’s not just cosmetic.


Not having done any serious dental procedure apart from a couple of fillings as a kid, I can’t argue with your statement, but oh god the “before” girl’s teeth in the video were horrible.
And I think its much better to have such a procedure done relatively early in order to have more years of life not “impaired” with such a smile.

Having just gone through this with my kiddo, the braces are indeed magic. It was amazing when she got them off, having never seen her either with very crowded and crooked teeth or with braces on.

In my daughter’s case, she had four teeth pulled just to make room for the adjustments, so her mouth was terribly crowded. We even have an orthodontist who is on the board at invisalign and he wouldn’t let her have those. It has corrected a bite issue but mostly made room for wisdom teeth that she would have had to have had removed. Probably with some kids it’s just cosmetic, but we have known since she was very small that her mouth was just too small for all the teeth in it. I never found that the people I worked with were hawking braces; all we were involved with were very thoughtful and conservative in what they recommended.

I love the weirdness of this video.


True to a point, and dependent on the particular dentist, but it seems polydontia is not uncommon.

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I an very grateful to my ortho and my parents for deciding to put me through all that trauma. Even though I hated it I would totally do it again. I have healthier teeth because of it, and I like my smile. Do trust orthos, but also do your research so you know when to spot a bad one. Just like any doctor.

To quote Boston University’s Ortho website: "Crooked teeth are harder to clean and maintain. A bad bite can also cause abnormal wear on tooth surfaces, difficulty speaking, and possibly joint problems (TMJ).
There can also be a psychological aspect to an unattractive smile. Children with untreated orthodontic problems may go through life with low self-esteem "
BU Ortho Site

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This is exactly my concern: vague statements that imply parents are hurting their children if they aren’t putting their kids through a traumatic experience. (And no, I understand that on the trauma scale, this scores lower than many other traumas which I shall not invoke here; but orthodontics are a trauma, none the less.)

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When I was 16, an ortho recommended braces for me. Being a big fat chicken, I was somewhat reluctant, so I asked if it was for medical reasons or just cosmetic. “Well, cosmetic,” he admitted. So I bailed, and ever since then people have remarked on my nice straight teeth. So yea, I kind of agree.


My wife assures me she likes my British teeth.

Never had braces as a kid, expected that I would - my sister did. As a result, my teeth are somewhat less than straight. Perhaps they have character?


You raise a really good point, but I wonder what “purely cosmetic” means. Whilst a slightly crowded mouth is no problem for one person, it may seem like a nightmare for another. Fortunately, orthodontics can be very successful in adulthood, too. Extending the discussion somewhat, a mild cleft lip repair (generally carried out on a newborn baby in 1st world countries) is entirely cosmetic too, but, as it is generally invisible and successful, it’s regarded as a good thing compared with the cosmetic significance of an untreated or badly scarred outcome in later life. The two things are not so far apart…

The funny thing about the “British Teeth” meme is that orthodontics for children, when required, is free in the UK through the National Health Service.


A fair point! At what point does cosmetic repair become medically beneficial? I remember this point coming up in the context of facial transplants. On the one hand, these procedures are not necessary for prolonging life, but on the other hand these people view themselves as monstrosities. We are talking about real psychological harm.

“Bad teeth” is certainly on this spectrum, but I feel it is important for the kid to make the choice.

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Ben, on the face of it (oops, double-entendre alert) the choice for Ortho treatment should be, at least partly, in the hands of the child, but I still have real problems with this. Some 13 year olds (the most common age for the start of orthodontics) can make rational decisions on a variety of issues. Some seem hopelessly enmired in emotions and can think no further than their nose. I’d be wary of asking a child like that to make a decision that may affect long-term outcomes. As I’m not a parent, I’m glad I don’t have to go down that path, but, as a dentist, I can say that, IMHE, I have often sided with an anxious parent over they immediate wishes of a teenager, and seen the child delighted and relieved that their opinion was over-ruled 2 years down the track. But be assured of this. I have never met an Orthodontist who placed their financial advantage over the clinical benefits to their patients. I’m not saying none exist, but, in 35 years in the profession, I’ve not met any.


One thing I’ve noticed is that it helps if the child is getting braces when at least some of their friends have them. Social safety in numbers, as it were.


Ugh, I had braces through high school plus oral surgery to remove gum tissue that was responsible for my terribly gapped and crooked teeth. The two-year-long headache, that’s what I remember, plus the mouth ulcers, the cleaning hassles, and the seemingly endless, endless rounds of dental medium impressions with the tray that always chafed my gums.

But boy was I glad to not be called “chainsaw” by my peers any more when my teeth were straight, so thanks Dad.

(In the past year or so, a tiny gap has re-opened in my front teeth and my second and fourth cuspids are starting to tip outwards just a fraction. AUGGHHHH. Add that to the eensy little chips each primary tooth has from 40+ years of wear and mishap, and it is, almost, to despair enough to consider veneers. ALMOST.)