In 2014 the makers of Invisalign clear aligners commissioned a study on the effects of both Invisalign and traditional metal braces on teen’s self esteem. They wondered if the attitudes of teens towards braces has changed in recent years due to the rise of social media. The Kelton Group, who conducted the survey, polled 3577 US teens, ages 13-17, 2118 mothers of teens, and 101 mothers of teens who wear or wore Invisalign clear aligners.
Here are some of the survey findings:
- Teens believe metal braces will keep them from fitting in with their peers. A whopping 92% of teens believe that metal braces will keep them from fitting in. That means 9 out of 10 teens who need an orthodontic appliance feel anxious about getting metal braces.
- Metal braces can cause low self-esteem. Of the teens that already had metal braces, 41% find it “embarrassing.”
- Teens wearing Invisalign clear aligners are twice as likely as teens wearing braces to see improved self-esteem over the course of their treatment. Teens who wear Invisalign not only are less embarrassed about wearing an orthodontic appliance to begin with, but they actually experience an improved sense self-esteem that builds throughout the course of their treatment! Though the study did not go into reasons why, I believe it’s because their improvement is so much easier to see with Invisalign versus traditional metal braces.
- Mothers underestimate the effects of low self-esteem due to metal braces. To me, this was one of the most interesting aspects of the study. Many teens now getting orthodontics are children of parents who had orthodontics. 42% of moms surveyed for this study believe that low self-esteem and not fitting in are a normal part of the teen experience. For those same moms, having crooked teeth (27%) or metal braces (40%) were a rite of passage for them personally. When these moms understood the gap between their own experiences and the anxieties of their teens, 81% said they would choose Invisalign for their kids rather than metal braces.
If your children are in need of orthodontics, remember that due to the influences of social media and our visual focus they have a greater sensitivity to how they look–and are more likely to find braces embarrassing and get more self-conscious about how they look.