A teenager in Brandon, Florida recently won the Perfect Smile Contest with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. As her prize, she will receive a new set of braces for free.
Stubbs Orthodontics, located in Brandon, will provide the braces and the dental work at no charge to the lucky teenager. Eryangelie, 13, says that she would avoid smiling throughout the school day because her classmates would frequently bully her. The sheriff’s office recorded a Facebook video of Eryangelie explaining the taunting she would experience from her peers.
“People criticize easily, especially boys. They just start judging what they first see, and I guess that my mouth, my teeth were the first thing that they see,” said Eryangelie.
In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of adults agreed that having a healthy smile is socially important. Once her two-year journey to fix her underbite and teeth crowding is complete, Eryangelie is looking forward to feeling confident in her smile.
Her mother, Melissa, is a single parent and says that paying for the braces as a sole income-earner would not have been feasible. According to Melissa, Medicaid would have paid 70%, but that would have left her with a remaining bill of about $4,000.
As per the Consumer Guide for Dentistry, the average cost of braces ranges anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on how long the wearer needs them and what type of braces they are. The cost of traditional braces is driven by what the orthodontist charges for the specific treatment. When more visits are necessary to maintain the braces, the price goes up.
Damon braces are self-litigating, requiring fewer visits to the orthodontist. These braces are typically more expensive, costing up to $8,000. Invisalign is another common option, but the aligners need to be changed every couple of weeks and the cost is determined by the final number of aligners that the orthodontist used.
Any additional procedures, such as teeth extraction, drive up the cost of the treatment as well. Outside of the braces themselves, an orthodontist may need to implement other devices such as a pallet spreader or fit the patient for a retainer.
As the costs of orthodontia add up, families like Melissa’s and Eryangelie’s become unable to afford these cosmetic dental treatments and only the good fortune of winning a county-wide contest is able to give the teenager her perfect smile.