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Do braces boost confidence? Scientists say no

Posted June 15, 2019

Being confident in your smile is very important. This day and age is struggling with beauty standards and people compare themselves to celebrities too much. This is why young people will choose braces even if their teeth are just slightly crooked. But does that actually boost confidence? Scientists from the University of Adelaide conducted a research and debunked this belief.

Even if braces boost confidence, this effect wears off – other factors are more important. Image credit: bagito16 via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

If you asked someone with braces why they were not happy with their teeth, most will answer that the problem was cosmetic – their smile didn’t look that nice. Of course, some people have deeper issues with teeth wearing unevenly or difficulty chewing, but absolute majority of the cases are only concerned with looks. Now scientists followed 448 13-year-olds from South Australia in 1988 and 1989. Then they followed up with them they turned 30 in 2005 and 2006. The goal was to find out if braces actually helped increasing confidence and it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Scientists looked at four psychosocial aspects: how well people coped with difficult situations and setbacks; how much they could take care of their own health; the support they received from their personal network and finally their own level of optimism. These factors are really important for behaviour concerning one’s health as well as mental condition. One of the observations was that people who did not have braces fitted were slightly more optimistic, despite having more crooked teeth. Also, people who did have braces fitted were not more confident because of them. Any effects that the ability to smile freely had, wore off rather quickly and people returned to their normal level of confidence.

The truth is that other factors are as if not more important. On the other hand, taking good care of one’s teeth did result in better psychological scores, although causality here is not certain. People who are happier tend to take better care of themselves anyway. Dr Esma Dogramaci, one of the authors of the study, said: “A lot of people are convinced that if they have braces, they will feel more positive about themselves and do well, psychosocially, in later life. This study confirmed that other factors play a role in predicting psychosocial functioning as adults – braces as a youngster was not one of them”.

You may disagree with these results. In fact, you might have had different experience and that’s great. However, there are so many different factors and this is just a minor one. On the other hand, if it helps you, you should do it – a nicer smile is not a bad dream to have.


Source: University of Adelaide

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