An eleven-year-old and her parents came to me seeking advice on getting representation. The adorable tween sang like an angel, had a read that blew me away, and was extremely marketable. As I finished talking to her parents, I let them know that there were many agents or managers who would sign their child in an instant. Then they laid it on me, “By the way, Sophie’s braces are coming on next week.”
Adolescence is indeed a tricky time for any child—let alone a child actor. Braces can definitely put things to a halt in our business, so paying attention to timing is important.
There may be no perfect time to begin orthodontic treatment, but here are a few helpful tips as you begin your investigation.
When is the best time to begin the process?
I spoke with orthodontist, Dr. Gerald E. Gardner, DDS, M.S. in Yorktown Heights, New York to get his advice on this one. “The best time to be evaluated for orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 9 and 11. One thing to remember is some children at the age of 9 can have a mouth of an 11-year-old, and some 11-year-olds can have a mouth of a 9-year-old. A trained orthodontist can evaluate the child in that time period to decide the best time to start treatment.” If your child is working or auditioning regularly at this age, you may want to consult with your orthodontist and see if holding off a few years is acceptable. That would bring your child to the awkward teen years when work tends to slow down anyway.
What about Invisalign?
Dr. Gardner concurs with me on this one. In the eyes of a certified orthodontist, Invisalign has limitations in its use and generally does not produce the same results as traditional braces. So, although you can remove them for auditions, they may not correct the teeth. After spending all of that money, your child may wind up needing metal braces after all.
Can’t I just have them removed for an audition or job?
Think about this one carefully before acting on it. According to Dr. Gardner, “Removal of braces for auditions can add an additional cost when braces have to be replaced. It can also extend the treatment time.” However, it may be worth it to you if it means getting a big role, so talk it over with your family and agent or manager.
What areas can my child work in with braces?
Occasionally, children with braces are needed for an on-camera television commercial. More often than not, however, braces will be a deterrent. Voiceover work on the other hand is not a problem for a child with braces unless the equipment in the mouth creates a speech problem. Many children will opt for clear braces and are able to work on stage since their mouth will not be seen from a distance. Depending on the time period and role type, there may also be some film and TV roles that will work for a child with braces.
Braces are a normal part of life for many children and teens, and they are just one of many things that you will need to consider as you and your child plan out his showbiz career. Plan wisely and don’t hesitate to discuss this with your agent or manager, but don’t let it discourage you either. Your child is growing up, and, with a little luck and hard work, will have many years ahead to land some fabulous roles and shine on stage—all with beautifully straight teeth.
What experiences have you had in this area? If you are the parent of a young actor who is destined to wear braces, what advice have you received? I’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below!
Master your craft, empower yourself, and enjoy the journey.
Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years as an actor, teacher, director, and personal talent manager. For 10 years, she was an associate with Fox Albert Management, one of the leading talent management companies in New York, where she managed such clients as Scarlett Johansson, Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five”), and Judy Reyes (NBC’s “Scrubs”). Denise has coached hundreds of children and young adults appearing regularly on Broadway and in television and film, as well as educating parents on the business of show business.