I would double-check whether braces are really needed

Photo of a man

Marc (Sean's father), 60 years old

“We didn’t even question or check whether our son needed braces. After all, you don't want your child to miss out on something they need.”

I think this massive increase in braces among my children’s friends is a bit concerning. I wonder whether they all really need braces. The children have to go for check-ups every six weeks, with their parents at first. That's another appointment in the busy family diary.

When I was told I needed an operation on both of my knees, I looked into whether it was really necessary and what the success rates were like. But that affected me, not my children.

I'd do things differently with my younger daughter. If her dentist said Sophie needs fixed braces, I would go elsewhere and ask for a second opinion.

I wonder whether all these children really do need braces

Some fixed braces come with extra costs that you have to pay yourself. Luckily we don’t have to because our children are privately insured through my wife. But that's a financial burden for other families.

We never talked about those clear aligner trays that you have to pay for completely yourself, they were never offered. And we didn't want them, either, because my son didn't have a problem with wearing metal brackets.

Fixed braces are no problem for most young people

He was ten when he found out that he would first have to wear removable braces and then fixed braces. His friends all found it pretty exciting and interesting. And my daughter really wants to have braces too. It's crazy. She told one of her friends how happy she would be if she got braces. I don't understand that, it’s not a good thing. You have something glued to your teeth for years and have to go to the dentist all the time. But it’s almost like a rite of passage for the girls. Maybe they feel grown-up or see it as a beauty thing. It seems to be “in” and cool.

Parents have to trust teens to clean their teeth properly and hope the dentists will help

After a while my son stopped wearing removable braces and had brackets fitted, with fixed wires. That's when the problems with brushing teeth started, right at the start of puberty. You either have to stand next to them and check everything. That’s annoying for everyone and your child wants to do it themselves. Or you don't stand next to them, and then have to accept that the dentist will probably moan at the next check-up. That's how it was in our case.

I did find that embarrassing, but children and teenagers have to hear it from the dentists for themselves. That’s the only way it will sink in. Parents are a bit helpless there. Our dealt with it really well, though. She used a special substance to dye the areas that had plaque on them, and kindly showed our son which bits he hadn't cleaned properly. She then had his teeth cleaned professionally there and then, and showed him the right technique. After that, she checked his teeth again and gave him positive feedback when he’d done a good job. I thought that was really good of her.

That's much more effective than us parents checking up on him. At some stage, you have to leave it up to the kids and trust them.

Tooth pain for the first two days after the braces were fitted

Overall, the braces only rarely caused Sean any pain or problems. Once, a bracket came loose and the wire was pressing into his cheek somewhere and hurt. But that was quickly put right. And at the very beginning the pain was worse for the first two days after the fixed braces were fitted, but Sean got used to that incredibly quickly. He could eat almost everything, we didn’t have to take any special care when cooking.


Our real-life stories summarize interviews with people who are affected by the medical condition. Our interview partners have given us permission to publish their stories. We would like to express our sincere thanks to them.

The real-life stories give an insight into how other people cope and live with a medical condition. Their opinions and comments are not recommendations by IQWiG.

Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.

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Created on February 13, 2023

Next planned update: 2026


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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