Why do many parents invest in palatal expanders and expensive orthodontic treatment? An article in Canadian Bulletin of Medical History explored the history of orthodontics and the justifications for undergoing an orthodontic procedure that is painful, prolonged and expensive.
In the early decades of the 20th century, most adults were considered lucky if they had any teeth at all. Most of the elderly had to wear dentures. In the 1920’s toothpaste manufacturers promised that regular use of toothpaste could lead to romantic and financial success. Young women confidently smiling with their beautiful white straight teeth were used in advertisements.
After the Second World War, advertisements including governments encouraged parents to take notice of their children’s teeth. According to proponents of water fluoridation system, teeth can last forever. The desired norm became straight white natural teeth. In the early part of the 20th century, orthodontists started to emerged and convinced parents that straight teeth could impact their child’s self esteem.
Articles in magazines claimed that bullied children can become popular after their teeth have been straightened. Inferiority complex will disappear that is why wealthy parents invested in orthodontic treatments to improve the smiles of their children particularly the daughters.
Since beauty expectations were higher for girls than boys, parents invested in orthodontics to prepare their daughters for a successful adulthood. In 1966, a study revealed that Americans believe that the appearance of the teeth has a big effect on landing a job, gaining friends and running for office including romance.
However, in the 1980’s, a study revealed that many people assume that orthodontic treatment does not prevent periodontal diseases and excessive cavities and neither does it affect psychological health. Surprisingly, the study did not affect the affect the number of people who opt for orthodontic treatments. Orthodontic treatments became affordable because they were covered by private and union dental plans.
Advertisements showed that crooked teeth can lead to serious health problems. Orthodontics became popular and there was increased demand for palatal expanders, braces, clear aligners and other orthodontic treatments for perfect smiles. White teeth became the norm and people do not mind investing in expensive treatments for themselves and their children.