People have become increasingly concerned about their oral health, not only for health reasons, but also for aesthetic and social reasons. As such, the demand for orthodontic treatments has seen steady growth year after year, despite the high costs involved and the discomfort often associated with the treatment.
What is particularly surprising is that there are people who have no real problems (teeth that are out of line, very worn or constantly breaking, teeth falling off or gums that recede) but still choose to get braces for fashion reasons. It may seem odd to many people who have been forced to wear braces by their parents, but trendy braces are trending in some corners of social media.
In some South Asian countries, for example, orthodontic treatment is considered a luxury, so by association, braces are seen as a symbol of financial prosperity. Trendy appliances are often decorated with aesthetic designs and jewels, making them popular products, especially among teenagers.
Since they are not meant to address any oral health issues like conventional braces, fashion braces are generally much cheaper and can be fitted in any dental office or even at home by users.
But are there any risks to fashion suspenders? Researchers led by Zaki Hakami of Jazan University in Saudi Arabia conducted the first study of its kind that investigated the effects of braces on oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL).
OHRQoL is a subjective assessment of an individual’s oral health, functional well-being, emotional well-being, expectations and satisfaction. Previously, studies have found that a patient’s OHROoL is significantly worse when they start wearing the appliance due to oral symptoms and functional limitations. However, a patient’s emotional well-being improves by wearing stylish braces.
The study involved 1,141 people from Saudi Arabia whose OHRQoL was assessed using the Oral Health Impact Profile-14 (OHIP-14) questionnaire. Participants were divided into three distinct groups: more than 60% of participants were in the control group (they weren’t wearing any type of braces), 33.7% had conventional braces for therapeutic reasons, and 3.4% had fashion braces. .
Participants were asked to rate the frequency of negative oral health experiences during the previous 12 months. These included things like difficulty pronouncing words, worsening sense of taste, painful pain in the mouth, discomfort when eating, feeling embarrassed or tense, meal disruptions, difficulty relaxing, feeling embarrassed, being irritable towards other people, difficulty doing useful work, and feeling life, in general, is less satisfying.
Physical pain was the most frequently reported ailment by all subjects regardless of whether or not they were wearing braces, but it was the highest in the therapeutic braces group. Those who wore stylish braces reported similar levels of physical pain to the control group, suggesting that the oral device caused no further painful experiences.
Compared to participants with fashionable or therapeutic braces, the control participants had significantly higher psychological distress, psychological disability, social disability, and handicap.
Therapeutic and fashion braces had adverse effects on functional limitation and physical disability, but were significantly greater for the therapeutic brace group. Those who wear stylish braces reported the greatest improvements in psychological and social outcomes.
Fashion suspenders are often advertised and sold through social media by influencers and unqualified personnel. Bracket quality is often poor and there have been previous reports of metal toxicity.
“Investigating the impact of such non-therapeutic braces on quality of life is as important as studying to uncover potential health risks because a deeper understanding of the consequences of fashionable braces will enable patients to provide informed consent, have realistic expectations and provide a more accurate analysis of the cost and benefits of devices, “the researchers wrote in the study.
The study concludes that both therapeutic and fashionable appliances improve a person’s psychological and social well-being, but the fashionable appliance group showed much lower levels of psychological distress and psychological disability than the therapeutic group. This “means that braces can actually help people feel more confident and satisfied with themselves,” the researchers said, but at the expense of greater functional limitation and physical disability than the control group.
For example, people with stylish braces had more trouble pronouncing words, felt their sense of taste worsened, were on unsatisfactory diets, and had to stop meals because of the appliance.
“Positive impacts have been reported on the psychological and social aspects of people wearing stylish braces. Social media is likely to play an important role in today’s society and should be included as a priority in future studies. In addition, further clinical studies are needed to evaluate any adverse effects on dentition, such as unwanted tooth movement, root resorption, tooth decay and white spot lesions, ”the study concludes.
The results appeared in the newspaper BMC Oral Health.