IF a celebrity sports something many tend to follow suit.

So when Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, unveiled her dental braces on the daytime show in support of her teenage son who also wears braces, it must have given orthodontic specialists around the UK something to smile about.

Apparently Andrea has said she always needed braces but was too embarrassed to have the dental work when she was a teenager.

And that may have led to women over 40 finally seeking the treatment they may have initially put off in their youth.

Having been a brace wearer - top and bottom and with elastic band attachments to boot - I can understand, to some extent, why women would swerve the treatment at a time when they may already be insecure about their appearance during adolescence.

Specialist orthodontist, Jonathan Alexander-Abt, who joined the Changing Faces and Smiles in Bradford in January, says the demand for braces has been there for some time and there is a 'gradual realisation that your age is actually not a barrier anymore for orthodontic treatment.'

He says Andrea McLean has helped with raising awareness and he says it is becoming more 'socially acceptable' to wear braces in all age groups.

"In all walks of life people are influenced by role models such as celebrities. There is a significant uptake in Ortho for both men and women, particularly women.

"I think a lot of Orthdontics is done for the psychological boost the patients enjoy once their teeth are straightened, which is a perfectly legitimate reason to have braces, irrespective of the degree of severity in each patients individual case.

"There are patients who are embarrassed to smile and tend to hide their smiles behind their hands, each case is unique but being embarrassed is one of the main reasons for this."

Jonathan, who has specialised in orthodontics since 1992 and has 24 years experience, says patients are asking for clear ceramic braces which are much less visible than metal ones.

"Patients are aware of other choices for aesthetic braces including Invisalign, which is almost invisible, and Incognito which is completely invisible as the braces are fixed onto the tongue side of the teeth."

Danielle Watson, the practice's marketing manager, says the range of brace systems available today, and the fact that they are less obvious and visible, could be prompting more people to seek the treatment they may have put off in their teens.

Since brace wearing has been brought into the public eye, Danielle says they have noticed an increase in enquiries about dental braces.

She says they also ran a survey within their own building and some of the ladies working in the lab now have braces on.

Danielle cites twisted teeth and prominent teeth at the front as some of the examples why women undergo the treatment.

Adds Jonathan: "What I have seen is that people are much less willing to accept imperfections in their smile."

Cathy, 41 and a mother-of-two, decided to have orthodontics as she felt 'very conscious' about her smile.

Cathy, who has now completed her treatment with Invisalign and also had Enlighten tooth whitening, says she was delighted when she heard about Andrea McLean as she thinks female role model celebrities will inspire many more ladies in their 40s to consider getting braces too.

Jodie Coyle, a dental technician from Bradford, saw first-hand the benefits of brace treatments and is now exploring them for herself.

"I didn’t like people to see me smiling from the right hand side of my face as I felt really uncomfortable about my teeth," says Jodie.

"Working in my job teeth are everywhere, so you become much more aware of your own smile. My teeth are crooked and out of line. Since having them (braces) fitted I have seen visible change.

"I am wearing fixed cosmetic braces. I had them in fitted in February and I will have them removed in August, I cannot wait to see the results. The Orthodontist is so lovely and calming, both he and Holly the nurse would make any nervous patient feel very much at ease and confident in Jonathan’s ability to fix their smile!"