Disclosure :: local mom and friend of LAFMB, Dr. Melanie Fowler, sponsored this post.
How Today’s Camera Culture Influences Orthodontics
Times are changing. Yes, I’m sure that absolutely every generation says the same thing. Our grandmothers couldn’t believe our mothers wore pants, and our own mothers couldn’t believe working moms were no longer the exception but the rule. And now it’s our turn, 2017 mothers, to say what we can’t believe is happening in our world. My personal vote for the biggest change in modern day society is technology, the ever-present camera and its influence on children, self-confidence and … orthodontics.
Gone are the days when Dad lugged the huge Kodak camera to the beach, hoping to get the perfect shot while not getting sand on the lens. Moms today shoulder the pressure of the perfect Pinterest party, complete with matching outfits and a million images to document the occasion across social media. Gone are the days when teens frantically planned for ONE, singular, annual school picture day. For me, the biggest question on picture day as a little girl was, “do I wear the big bow, or the really big bow?” Even though I attended a co-ed school, my worst hair day existed only as a memory, rarely captured on film.
Today, girls (and boys) have to worry that their worst hair day, or other most embarrassing moment, will be forever captured and shared by all. Why are Snapchat filters so popular? Because they are masks to hide the real you.
Camera Culture Affects Us All
So what are the effects of this change? Of course, there are the good ones like creating memories to share with friends and family for years to come. But there are also the bad changes like cyber bullying. In my area of expertise, orthodontics, we have identified another disturbing trend: DIY braces. What are DIY braces, you ask?
DIY braces are when kids take their oral health into their own hands, like trying to close their gap with rubber bands. Without the knowledge of the science behind orthodontics, these kids are risking tooth loss, bone loss, gum disease, and more. Another trend I have identified is that middle school children are consistently less excited about getting braces than in years past. It used to be cool to get braces in 6th or 7th grade but today’s kids are in the constant camera-ready mode and are asking for clear alternatives and shorter treatments. They simply don’t like the idea of selfies with braces.
Where Does Dr. Melanie Fowler Orthodontics Come In?
I know that I can’t single-handedly change the camera culture. But what I can do is help my patients stay safe when it comes to their oral health by offering newer innovations and different protocols. One of the best alternatives to the dreaded two-year brace face is a phased treatment philosophy. By separating the treatment into two phases, an early one around age 8 and a second one around age 12, we can manage the aesthetics of the front teeth early and then complete the overall goal of a functional bite later.
This type of phased treatment outlined above is not for every patient. But it is one of the reasons that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends all seven year olds be evaluated by an orthodontist. During this early evaluation, the orthodontist is looking for growth asymmetries and developmental issues including overcrowding and impacted teeth. Early intervention is crucial in crossbite situations and other jaw problems. Even if major growth discrepancies do not exist, an early phase may be indicated to align the teeth. My own daughter wouldn’t smile because she was embarrassed about her crowded teeth. In six months, I was able to align her teeth and help her gain confidence to smile.
Whether we like it or not, we live in the camera age. Photographic documentation of every part of our lives is not going away. But we can assist our kids by reminding them what matters most in life: love, laughter and smiles, and not just the ones in pictures.
Dr. Melanie Fowler
Dr. Melanie Fowler is a board-certified orthodontist with offices in Lafayette and New Iberia. She is married to Dr. Shane Fowler and they have two very busy children, Georgia and Glen. When’s she’s not working or driving to ballet and soccer, Dr. Fowler spends time teaching at LSU School of Dentistry, volunteering with Junior League of Lafayette and traveling to Perdido Key, Florida, her happy place.