Social imagination would argue that getting braces for your teeth is more for cosmetic purposes rather than functional reasons. This is because society tends to associate a particular set of teeth to your social status. People with crooked teeth are perceived as careless (their teeth are crooked because they must not care for them well) and more often than not, considered to not be morally upright. Individuals with good teeth get warmer reception because most people associate good teeth with responsibility and beauty, that they have a better quality of life compared to those whose teeth face numerous challenges. This article specifically focuses on adults who resort to get braces for both cosmetic and functional purposes. Many adults relate good teeth to a better quality of life as they are able to interact with more people without fear of judgement and disdain as well as significantly boosting their confidence.
From the symbolistic interactionist perspective, people attach significance to good teeth. Good teeth are synonymous with a better quality of life. Furthermore, the state of ones teeth is an indication of their social standing. For instance, those with bad or crooked teeth are more often than not labelled as poor and unbecoming while those with good teeth are considered morally upright and more attractive, in addition to being affluent. The relationship between bad teeth and poverty is one that goes back in time, centuries even and begot the term that poor teeth not only attracts shame, but brings on even more poverty. It becomes baffling that our first impression of somebody with regard to their teeth would be their social standing or quality of life. This is a rather superficial approach to base our judgement of other people on. Secondly, the association of braces with cosmetic procedures rather than a normative medical procedure that aims to correct a defect shows a flaw in society. Hence, most medical insurance does not cover orthodontic procedures making them a most expensive procedure for the individuals affected, up to $6000 for the whole procedure.
The functionalist perspective sheds light on how good teeth can generally affect ones self confidence and how they interact with the rest of society. Individuals are dependent on orthodontists to perform procedures that will correct the state of their dental formula in order to lift the veil of stigma associated with bad teeth. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the orthodontist to recommend the best procedure or braces to wear to increase efficiency and productivity. Therefore, braces not only provide cosmetic relief but serve as a basis for which individuals interact without bias or stigma.
The conflict perspective highlights the selfish motives of commercial companies that embarked on a vicious marketing campaign to have more adults adopt clear alignment trays rather than the metallic ones. Much as the objective of this innovation was to save individuals with braces the embarrassment of having to wear them in public and looking unattractive, the ultimate goal was to market this product to realise profits rather than provide a feasible alternative. Secondly, most medical covers to not cater for orthodontics (placement of braces) as it is considered more of a cosmetic procedure rather than a functional procedure that could actually improve the quality of life of individuals afflicted with bad dental orientation. Most times, adults who seek help from orthodontists, aim to have a better smile and the shift have moved from that of dealing with rotten or crooked teeth to just having an appealing smile. The fact that society judges individuals based on how their teeth look without probing further as to why, shows how superficial most people tend to be. It is therefore sad that correction or alignment of teeth in order to fit in/ be accepted by society is now considered a cosmetic procedure rather than a necessity. Furthermore, the fact that this procedure costs an arm and a leg is more or less unfair because people do not choose to have bad teeth. Lastly, the orthodontic companies that banked on the idea that people with better teeth lead a better quality of life shows the warped perceptions society has regarding beauty and how the quality of life an individual is measured (Turner, 1985).
Young adults with braces tend to experience discrimination from others as they are considered outcasts and weird because of the nature of their teeth. For instance, people with better teeth more often than not get better jobs and have better confidence dealing with people. however, for adults who decide to get braces, confidence is easily attained as they are confident of the outcome of the procedure even if it takes up to two years to correct their teeth and unveil that desirable smile they aim for.
Stigma arises because society tends to jump to the conclusion that people with crooked teeth are crooked in character too. For instance, an artist with a lopsided smile is considered a cheat or neurotics or even degenerates. This is completely opposite of people with straight teeth who are considered well to do or have a higher moral altitude hence considered more important. This then makes it difficult for people with braces to interact with others without being judged too harshly.
Consequently, adults who tend to embrace braces have an easier time in general dealing with them compared to children or adolescents. This is because as one gets older, the false consciousness of society dissociates as more people will be more interested in genuinely knowing why one has braces on, society then becomes more forgiving and tolerant. This is a complete disparity to children and adolescents who will be made fun of regardless of the discomfort they experience wearing the bracelets. Secondly, adults are more aware of the reasons as to why they want to get braces, for cosmetic reasons that subsequently will improve their confidence and give them a better outward appearance. Lastly, adults with braces are more cautious and tend to take much better care of their oral and dental hygiene as opposed to children and adolescents.
Turner, J. (1985). Sociology: The Science of Human Organization. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.
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