Braces Come in Different Shapes

I know that title sounds odd, but it's true! An orthodontist from Omaha just patented a new fun way to wear braces - as hearts, stars, soccer balls, you name it! Here's the whole story:

Omaha orthodontist Dr. Clarke Stevens tries to run a fun practice.He keeps videos running in his office. He holds contests. One day, he noticed an 8-year-old patient's little heart necklace. "I thought, 'You know, it would be cute if she had hearts on her teeth'."

So he found a manufacturer to make brackets for braces in shapes. He started in 2001 with hearts and stars. Then he added soccer balls, footballs, flowers and diamonds to the patented WildSmiles Braces lineup.

They're popular with kids, he said, but some adults opt for them, too. Women in their 40s have chosen them. Two 50-year-old guys picked footballs.

The company now sells the braces around the world — they're big in South America — and has representatives in Dubai, London, Australia and Spain, Stevens said. About 460 doctors now use WildSmiles, which he said are made in the United States.

Shaped brackets might add $35 to an orthodontist's costs, he said, but most don't pass that on to patients.