The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Say cheese and show the steel on your teeth

Tooth braces, a source of embarrassment for generations of schoolchildren, have become a modern-day fashion statement, according to dental consultants.

Instead of suppressing smiles, teenagers once stigmatised by having a mouthful of brightly coloured metal have become the envy of their peers.

The traditional method of realigning teeth is believed to have become de rigueur after being openly paraded by a number of celebrities.

Hollywood stars including Tom Cruise, Whoopi Goldberg and Cher have all worn dental braces, as have the singer Britney Spears and Princes William and Harry.

Jonathan Sandler, consultant orthodontist at Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Royal Hospital, said: “It is almost a rite of passage for teenagers of both sexes these days. The lads want braces in their football team colours and the girls want something to match whatever outfit they are wearing that weekend.”

“I have had patients come in for a consultation and when told they did not need a brace go away severely disappointed.”

“Clearly, there has to be a clinical need and an indication on dental health grounds that they would benefit from a brace but we are fitting more than ever.”

Braces are a series of metal brackets attached to a flexible wire which helps to shape the teeth. Coloured elastic bands are attached to the brace to help move the teeth. On average the “train tracks” are fitted for two years for children and adults, with more than 100,000 patients treated each year. Braces are free on the NHS for under-18s.

Sandler said: “I’ve noticed braces becoming a fashion accessory over the last six or seven years. It is now socially acceptable to have a brace.”

“When I was at school the thought of having one was abhorrent and the few children who had one were stigmatised. These days far more children have them. Dentistry techniques imported from the US have become more sophisticated and stars such as Tom Cruise, who wore a brace two years ago, have acted as role models.”

“Patients can choose their own coloured bands and braces have become trendy. Teenagers now believe it is cool and sexy to wear a brace.”

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