Malocclusion—meaning teeth that are crooked or crowded is often an inherited condition. It’s in the genes, just like any number of other problems can be, and your kids didn’t get to pick their parents out of a catalog that included Barbie and Ken. If you have a family history of crooked teeth, you should make a special point of getting your children into the orthodontist early, for exams and pre-emptive treatment if needed. But heredity is certainly not the only cause. Orthodontic problems can come from something as simple as early loss of baby teeth, thumb-sucking, or an accident. By getting your child to the orthodontist early, you may be saving them from years of embarrassing issues associated with their teeth and smile, and you may reduce or prevent need for more aggressive, difficult and costly treatments later.
Can They “Get By” Without Braces?
Yes, many girls and boys with visible smile problems or with difficulties associated with misaligned teeth like grinding and clenching, difficulty eating, difficulty with hygiene, etc. can and do get by without braces. Some even goon to become famous celebrities—former NFL player now TV host Michael Strahan is even famous for the gap in his teeth that could have been easily corrected with braces when he was a child. But for most, the “get by without” decision can come at a huge, long-term cost in health, well-being and even social and career success. It is common for adults who “got by without braces” as children to later face ever worsening gum disease, a factor in uncontrollable bad breath, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and early loss of teeth. Or they might face complicated, painful, time consuming and costly gum surgery, bone grafts, teeth replacement and cosmetic dentistry—cases often involving fees upwards from$25,000 to $50,000—not to mention shyness, timidity, and perpetual embarrassment. Many parents are understandably, acutely aware of the costs of the braces and orthodontic treatment, but tend to discount all the future costs and adverse effects of letting their daughter or son just “get by without braces.” The other thing to know is that teeth or jaw misalignment is not acne; they won’t just grow out of it. None of this is temporary. It is permanent and certain to get harder to deal with overtime.
Is A Great Smile Just A Cosmetic Issue?
Some parents feel that “looks aren’t everything,” and they think their kid should just be tough minded about it and not be overly sensitive. On one level, they may be right! It’s certainly an understandable parental reaction. But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are physical health and emotional health issues directly related to having a straight, correct, proper smile. Let’s face it: kids can be cruel. From elementary school on, kids look for excuses to humiliate or ostracize the kid who, quote, looks funny. Kids may not talk to their parents about this either, for fear of being embarrassed at home too, or, frankly, being told to just toughen up. Bullying is a very real, very harmful, even dangerous thing now made far, far worse than when we were kids, by social media online.
What was once confined, is now unrestrained. What was once small—being excluded from a small group by a few kids is now big—being broadcast for the entire school’s population. According to a study by the non-profit ConfidenceCoalition.org, 90% of all girls want to change something about their physical appearance, a girl is bullied every 7 seconds in school across the country, and one out of every four college age women have an eating disorder fueled by emotional issues. From other research, we found that 70% of boys suffer constant harassment over their personal appearance. Most teen suicides leave shocked and bewildered parents behind. Many are caused by bullying. The kid with buck teeth, an overbite, gaps, teeth misaligned enough that keeping them clean and bad breath is a problem…he or she can become a target, and the harassment can be relentless.
Shaming on social media has become serious, not trivial. Suicide has jumped by 24% in the last decade, with a lot of that in pre-teen, teen and college age young people. But even without such a drastic and tragic response, the self-image and self-esteem scars of teen years can carry forward into adult life.
Going to junior high or high school with crooked teeth and a poor smile is one thing. Going on college admission or job interviews with the same handicap is another. Looking in the mirror at an embarrassing smile on the day of the prom is bad, but looking that smile in the mirror on the day she is delivering her first big presentation of her first job is another.
In terms of physical health, anything and everything that interferes with good oral hygiene can raise risk of or worsen diabetes, heart disease and cancer in adults. And while it is almost never too late for an expert, highly skilled orthodontist to correct alignment problems in adult life, the later that effort occurs, typically, the harder and costlier it is. Poorly aligned teeth can also produce chronic headaches and migraines, contribute to poor digestion because of inadequate chewing of food, make getting a good night’s sleep difficult and more. For the young person, this can interfere with the ability to study and get good grades. Later in life, it can sabotage overall health. This needs to be taken seriously. A great smile is anything but “just cosmetic”.
What Should I Expect When It Comes To Costs?
We understand and respect the costs of raising a safe, healthy, smart, and self-confident child or teen. Our entire approach is based on how would we treat the daughter or son of my closest and dearest friend? That includes fair, reasonable and fully transparent fees. All-inclusive fees. And, convenient financing if needed. But it also includes not compromising or sacrificing or taking short-cuts just to shave a bit off of the price.
Not all treatment is the same. Not all orthodontic practices approach creating the ideal smile in the same way. Dr. Karl does not think of himself just as a technician, like a mechanic, or like a painter. He is about transforming lives. Not just aligning teeth for a winning smile and lifelong optimum dental health, but supporting a winning personality and confident attitude.
All these considerations factored in, you will find the fee for the personalized treatment most appropriate for your daughter or son falls within your expectations—or perhaps even lower than you anticipated. Many parents report being pleasantly surprised.
Just as some context and comparison, a single year’s lease payments, insurance, and upkeep for a luxury automobile will be close to the investment in the orthodontics needed by most young patients. Obviously, of course, the one pays only for the year’s use of the car; the other is truly an investment in lifetime health and well-being—as well as a winning smile.
Imagine being quietly embarrassed, even ashamed of your smile, every day. Not smiling. Hiding it. Feeling that everybody notices it and feels sorry for you or judges you in harsh terms, as kids so often do. Days, weeks, months, maybe years. Then imagine waking up one morning, looking in the mirror and now liking the smile you see. That is the incredible gift you are now going to bring to your daughter or son.
How Can I Be CERTAIN That I’m Doing The Right Thing And Choosing The Right Orthodontist?
There aren’t a lot of real guarantees in life. You’ve probably seen the TV ads, where a father is talking about the family’s financial advisor with his young son. The son asks, “Do you get your fees back if you’re not happy?” Dad says, “It doesn’t work that way.” The son says, “Maybe it should.” We agree. Why not?
Traditionally, there have been no guarantees in health care. You pay your money, you take your chances. But Dr. Karl is very sure of his ability to provide the ideal smile, dental health and patient experience that you are thrilled with, and that is what you are guaranteed.
If you are not satisfied with your daughter’s or son’s, or your new smile or with your experience as a patient, you simply say so, and your entire investment is refunded. We think this is how life should work. Further, the quality of the orthodontic work is guaranteed for life. If ever the proper teeth alignment originally achieved somehow begins to fail—something that is very rare— we will welcome you back and do all that can be done to correct the problem. If your daughter or son ever requires orthodontic treatment again, even if the teeth shift because retainers weren’t worn as directed, the needed re-treatment is provided at no charge.