Thursday, 9 June 2011

Braces: Geek Chic or Ugly Betty?

When I started secondary school, which was 12 years ago now, yikes that makes me feel super old, braces were seen as uncool, geeky and basically were a big no, no, but when I was about 12-13 I had to have them myself. They didn't suit me and I was very self conscious about them. Most people had funky coloured rubber bands to hold the wire onto the brace but I opted for the more inconspicuous clear ones, to the shock of my orthodontist who only had them as they had been ordered in for a private patient and were left over. My friend who had them at the same time looked fine with them on but me, no, they just didn't work. I only had mine for a year, usually you have them for 18-24 months, as my teeth moved into position easily but I didn't wear my retainer afterwards so they have moved back slightly, but only one tooth on the bottom is quite noticeable.

When I got braces they were becoming slightly more acceptable.  I remember quite a few kids at school who had one, including several people who got them whilst in sixth form which is quite late in the world of dentistry considering the idea age to start treatment is age 12 to 13, like me.

Yet recently teeth have become big business. Whether it's whitening, straightening, veneering or implants, it's all about the smile.

I predominately remember one celebrity which publicised braces and that was Gwen Stefani.


Gwen was 30 when she got braces in 1999. 1999 was the year I started secondary school, and like many other young people, I was a massive No Doubt fan and Gwen helped with making braces more acceptable. With pink hair no one would dare to call her uncool!

Another celebrity who had braces is Tom Cruise. He got his braces when he was 39.


I remember this really clearly as there was a big media scrum about this story. I believe Tom did his bit for the boys because after all who would say Tom Cruise is a geek?!?

And so I come to arguably the most well known brace wearer, Ugly Betty!


Ugly Betty personifies everything I thought of brace wearers when I was 11 years of age. If anything I believe this programme perhaps brought back some of the preconceptions of wearing braces, with a title like 'Ugly Betty' it doesn't give out a good image does it?

But in 2009, 10 years on from Gwen Stefani and her braces, over a million people began orthodontic treatment and braces were in high demand! Nowadays some orthodontic treatment is classed as cosmetic surgery so on the NHS only children are offered the treatment free of charge. Despite this there is also an increase in adults wanting treatment even though, on average, it costs between £2,000 to £6,000 to be treated. Starting treatment can be because you want a straighter smile or for more serious medical reasons such as sleep apnea where you actually stop breathing in your sleep.

The most recent celebrity to undergo orthodontic treatment is TV presenter Holly Willoughby. The 30 year old posted a photo of herself on her Twitter page with her new braces with the caption: "Brace yourself, I've got braces...eek! X"

(Image borrowed from Holly's Twitter)

Holly's teeth look pretty perfect to me and as she tweeted saying she would only have to wear hers for a couple of months it's probably just to adjust a minor problem but even though I just wish when I was at school there was someone like her who all us brace wearers could have looked to for support. I'm sure that the way she came out openly and honestly to say that she has got them will give many people confidence in wearing theirs or to begin much needed treatment.

But moving away from braces and onto general teeth. When The Only Way is Essex was on our screens a few months ago I remember an episode where Maria Fowler told the rest of the gang that big teeth were in and that everyone was after the 'race horse' look.


Personally I'm not going to follow the 'race horse' teeth trend but it is true that big teeth aren't the focus of mockery anymore.

I also just remembered another trend which I believe originated from Madonna and her infamous gap.


People were that obsessed with Madonna's gap in her front teeth they actually wanted to create one in their own teeth! I'm not entirely sure if this can be done but surely Madonna has done a lot for people who do have a gap which they dislike by not getting her's 'fixed'.

So to coin a few phrases whether you can 'eat an apple through a tennis racket' (have big teeth), 'can slot a pound coin through you teeth' (have a gap) or are a 'metal mouth' (have braces), embrace (no pun intended there) your teeth and for goodness sake look after them! After all you only get one set and no one likes this look:

(All images borrowed from Google Images, unless stated)

6 comments:

Skin Scrubs said...

Back in the 80's in the US some of my friends had braces and headgear (watch the film 16 Candles if you don't know what I'm talking about) and those friends got teased and tormented but after seeing them at my 20 year high school reunion a few years ago it was worth it. My friend Annie has fantastic teeth!

Karla said...

Oh without a doubt it's worth it, I'm so glad I got bullied into having braces by my mum, just wish I wore my retainer but I was a stubborn child! Ahh yes headgear, that really must be terrible as you can just anticipate the amount of stick you would get x

Nicholas Ludwig said...

Oh man! Gwen Stefani had dental braces before? That's so surprising! She looks so hot, even when she had braces. I guess this just means that beauty can come, no matter what you wear. Hehehe

Nicholas Ludwig

Sarah said...

Im 14 and I've had my braces since Febuary 2012, braces these days are so common. These days, well at my school anyways, you don't even get bullied for having braces. Many of my friends actually want them, unlike me haha. I'm definitely going to wear my retainer when I finally get my braces off, I'll be about 16 or 17 by the time i get them off but hey its worth it right? :)

Idella Garza said...

I remember that gap teeth trend and I didn’t like it even if some of my favorite celebrities followed that trend. Summerville dental creates wonderful looking braces and I one of their satisfied patients. For me, having braces doesn’t make anyone look ugly instead it slowly transforms our teeth to have that beautiful smile.

Cody Zieba said...

Yeah, a few years ago, you’d have a hard time going through high school if you had braces because you’d be called a geek all the time. But people like Gwent Stefani and Tom Cruise definitely helped in breaking the misconception that having braces isn’t cool. Nowadays, though, you see more people going for this treatment because of its distinguishable results. That is definitely a good thing in and of itself.

Cody Zieba

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