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NEW YORK (PIX11) –– As the trend of smiling selfies continues to soar, the journey to picture perfect teeth often begins with a trip to the orthodontist. But is the expensive and often painful medical process of braces being overshadowed for cosmetic reasons?

“We like to say it’s not your parents’ braces anymore,” explains Dr. Christina Carter, an orthodontist and pediatric dentist.

Crystal Patel is a high school senior wearing braces. She told PIX11 “it’s important to have a good smile.”

Jessica Corona just completed her freshman year of college with braces.  “I think that soon I’ll be able to take a selfie and show off my teeth, so its OK,” she said.

But Dr. Carter also treats patients much younger than Crystal and Jessica. Many of those kids are coming in because they want to improve the way they look. “Unfortunately I hear children being bullied about their teeth all the time,” explains Dr. Carter.

Children as young as 7 are now getting braces.

At her practice on Staten Island, Dr. Carter said, “Children are getting braces earlier and we’ve recommended that children are screened by an orthodontist by the age of 7.” That recommendation stems from the American Association of Orthodontists.

But if children wear braces before their permanent teeth come in, they could have to wear braces again around the age of 12 or 13 to complete their treatment and ensure their new smile is a lasting one.

“You will still need to go to a second phase of therapy when all of the permanent teeth come out,” says Dr. Ali Attaie, the Chief of Pediatric Dental Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Not all health insurance plans will pay for a second round of treatment.

“In general, insurance will only pay a certain lifetime benefit and when you decide to do care in this piecemeal way you now expand the number of treatments and exhaust that available pool much much sooner.”

How, when and why you opt for braces is a unique decision for each family. The doctors PIX11 spoke to recommend patients focus on health, consider beauty, and before you begin treatment, consult your insurance company.