Braces Are Not Only To Straighten Teeth

While many people think braces are only for straightening teeth, they actually help deal with many other problems.

Crowded Teeth: Sometimes your mouth is not big enough to hold all your teeth in the right place. Crowded teeth may become impacted and affect your bite. Crowding can be corrected by removal of teeth as well as braces.

Overbite: Upper teeth extend too far out over the lower teeth. The gap between the upper and lower teeth may lead you to injure your gums or lips. It can also cause your lips to be pushed forward meaning you are not able to close your lips completely over your teeth.

Underbite: Your lower teeth extend in front of your upper teeth. It is usually caused by having a lower jaw longer than the upper jaw.

Crossbite: Some of your upper teeth bite down inside the lower teeth but others bite down correctly. If you suffer from this, you may have problems chewing.

Open Bite: Your lower and upper incisor teeth do not touch when you bite down. This puts a lot of pressure on the back teeth when chewing and biting. If you suffer from this, you might rub your teeth together without intending to.

Space Problems: If you have teeth that are smaller than normal, or you have lost important teeth, you may have spacing problems. The teeth may spread out and, if the spaces become too large, you might have problems biting and chewing. However, the main issue with space problems is often cosmetic.

Advertisements

The Pros and Cons of Hidden Braces

While regular metal braces with an arch wire and elastics are still the most common, some people opt for a different approach.

One option is lingual or “hidden” braces which are fixed to the inside of the teeth.

They still use brackets and wires, but those brackets and wires cannot generally be seen by others.

Rather than having brackets bonded to the teeth and wires attached with elastic, lingual braces have brackets built for each tooth.

The brackets are fixed to each tooth with cement and then the arch wire is threaded through the brackets.

Pros of Lingual Braces
They look better than regular braces
They work as effectively as regular braces
Food caught in them is not usually visible to others
May be more stable than other options

Cons of Lingual Braces
They can take longer to get used to
The way you talk may be affected, especially at first
Caring for them is more difficult
Cleaning takes longer
They can be more expensive as they have to be custom made and installation is more complex

How Dental Retainers Work with Braces

Dental retainers are devices used to keep teeth in the desired position after braces are removed.

After braces are removed, it still takes some time for teeth to settle into the jawbone and the soft tissue.

Without appropriate action, they might drift back in to the original position.

Retainers can be fixed or removable.

Removable retainers can be taken off to eat or brush your teeth. You wear them all the time for about a year and then wear them only at night for a further period.

Fixed retainers are permanently glued to your teeth and can only be removed by your dentist.

The most common type is Hawley Retainers, which have a plastic base following the shape of your mouth.

This is connected to a wire that wraps around your teeth, keeping them in place.

Essix Retainers are made of clear plastic and some patients prefer them as they cannot be seen but they don’t last as long as Hawley retainers.

As well as keeping your teeth in position after wearing braces, retainers can also be used to correct other minor orthodontic problems that don’t require a full set of dental braces.

For example, they may be used to move just one tooth or correct a slight malocclusion.

Definitions of Orthodontic Terms

Definitions of Orthodontic TermsDefinitions of Orthodontic Terms
Here are definitions of some of the most common orthodontic terms.
Impressions: A mold of your teeth which is used to make a model of them

Panoramic x-ray: An x-ray made by a machine that rotates around your head to give a full picture of your teeth and jaws

Closed bite: Where the upper teeth cover the lower teeth on biting down

Crossbite: Where some upper teeth are inside the lower teeth on biting down

Crowding: Too many teeth in too small a space

Fixed Appliance: Cemented or bonded to the teeth

Lingual Appliances: Fixed to the inside of the teeth

Malocclusion: Poor positioning of your teeth

Class I: Bite is fine as top teeth line up with bottom teeth but teeth are crooked or crowded

Class II: Upper teeth stick out past lower teeth (also called an “overbite”)

Class III: Lower teeth stick out past upper teeth (also called an “underbite”)

Occlusion: The alignment and spacing of upper and lower teeth on biting down

Open Bite: Teeth do not close or come together in the front of your mouth

Proper Occlusion: All teeth are straight and top teeth line up with bottom teeth

Wax Bite: Bitemark left on wax to measure how well teeth are aligned

Definitions of Parts of Your Braces

Here are definitions of some of the key terms used for the different elements of braces.Here are definitions of some of the key terms used for the different elements of braces.
Appliance: Something attached to teeth to move them or change the shape of the jaw

Arch Wire: Metal wire which is attached to brackets to move teethBand: Metal ring placed on teeth to hold on parts of braces

Bracket: Device glued on to teeth to fasten the arch wire

Orthodontic Chain: Used to hold archwires into brackets and to move teeth

Ligating Module: Small plastic donut-shaped device to hold the arch wires in the bracketsLingual Appliances: Orthodontic devices fixed to inside of teeth

Mouthguard: Protects your mouth from injury during sports and other activities to limit injuries

Retainer: Device usually worn for some time after braces removed to hold teeth in position

Wax: Helps stop braces from irritating your lips especially in early stages

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a special branch of dentistry that focuses on the treatment of teeth and jaws that are misaligned.

The word comes from the Greek words orthos meaning straight or proper, and odont meaning tooth.

It is concerned with the treatment of malocclusions or improper bites. These may arise from tooth irregularity, problems with the jaw or both.

You may seek orthodontic treatment for cosmetic reasons or for health reasons.

Cosmetic reasons are usually due to feeling low self esteem due to the appearance of your mouth or smile.

However more serious heath problems can include difficulties chewing, which can lead to digestion problems.

Issues with the alignment of your teeth and jaws can also cause sleep and breathing problems such as snoring or sleep apnea.

In addition, some orthodontists work on reconstructing the entire face rather than focusing exclusively on teeth.

Orthodontic treatment will depend on the diagnosis of the orthodontist after taking x-rays and molds.

The treatment may include braces or other devices to realign teeth. In sever cases, surgery may be needed.

Some estimates say that more than half the US population has problems with misaligned teeth or jaws so orthodontics plays an important role.

How Dental Braces Work

Dental braces are orthodontic devices which help realign the position of your teeth.

They may be used if you have bite problems (also called malocclusions), crooked teeth, gaps or other problems with your teeth.

Although they are mainly used on children and teenagers – as treatment is easier when you are still growing – adults can also benefit from braces.

Braces are made up of three basic parts:
– Brackets
– Bonding (or band)
– Arch wire

The way braces work is that the teeth are moved through the use of force – the wires in the braces push the tooth in the desired direction.

When this happens, there is a biological response which leads to bone remodeling. Bone is created on one side and resorbed on the other side.

A tooth will usually move about a millimeter per month during orthodontic treatment but there are big variations depending on the individual and the exact treatment.

The Pros and Cons of Invisalign Braces

Invisalign braces have become popular as an alternative to traditional braces as they are cosmetically more appealing.

They are known as “invisible braces” but they actually work in a very different way to the traditional approach.

Rather than using brackets and wires, Invisalign uses aligners to move your teeth into new positions.

These aligners are clear and removable.

In order to use the Invisalign approach, you will have X-rays and molds taken which are then used to help an orthodontist plan your treatment.

The Invisalign aligners are built specifically for your mouth and each aligner is meant to be worn for two weeks. You then move on to the next aligner and the whole process can take about one year.

Pros
Virtually invisible so only you know you are wearing them

Easier to clean than traditional braces

More comfortable than traditional braces so less risk of irritation

Removable so can be taken out for eating or just for a break

Cons
Can be more expensive than traditional braces

Won’t work for everybody

Must follow instructions exactly

Teeth are still being moved so some chance of pain

A Quick History of Orthodontics

While you may think braces are a modern invention, the fact is people have been using devices to move their teeth since the early days.

Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains where there were metal bands wrapped around individual teeth.

As far back as 500 BC, Hippocrates and Aristotle were both talking about ways to straighten teeth and fix various dental conditions.

However, despite all the evidence from early times, it was around the 1700s before the most significant developments began to happen in orthodontics.

In 1728, French Dentist Pierre Fauchard published a book called the “The Surgeon Dentist” with an entire chapter on ways to straighten teeth. He used a horseshoe-shaped metal device to help expand the arch.

While teeth straightening has been practiced since early times, orthodontics did not really begin as a science in its own right until the mid-1800s.

Norman W. Kingsley wrote the first article on orthodontics in 1858 and J. N. Farrar was the first dentist to suggest the use of mild force at timed intervals to move teeth.

In the early 1900s, Edward H. Angle devised the first simple classification system for malocclusions, which is still used today as a way for dentists to describe how teeth fit together.

In the early 20th century, gold, platinum and silver were routinely used in braces and the bands wrapped entirely around the each tooth. They continued to wrap around the teeth until the mid 1970s, when direct bonding became possible.

In the 1070s, systems were developed to place braces on the inside surfaces of the teeth – lingual or invisible braces.

In the future, it seems likely that braces will be smaller, less visible, more comfortable and will be needed for much shorter periods of time.

Common Questions About Braces

Here are the answers to some common questions about what it like to have braces

What is it like having braces?,
When you have braces, you will probably find your mouth sore for a few days. It can also be uncomfortable when the braces are tightened. However, most of the time you probably won’t even notice them.

Do braces hurt?
It can depend on which type you choose but usually modern braces will not hurt except for the first few days or when they are tightened.

While the manufacturers are always looking for ways to make them more comfortable, a little discomfort at the beginning is still common. You will be able to take some painkillers if necessary. The pain may be greater if you start orthodontic treatment when you are an adult.

Will it be embarrassing to wear braces?
Over 70% of teenagers wear braces and therefore most people have some experience of them so there is no need to feel embarrassed. If you start treatment when you are an adult, the proportion of people wearing braces is lower but you will still find most people supportive.

Will braces cause sores in my mouth?
Sometimes you might experience sores on your lips in the first few days. These can easily be rinsed in water or special solution and will usually heal within a week or so. You can also put wax on the braces to prevent the braces from rubbing and irritating the sore.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?
It varies a lot depending on exactly what changes need to happen in your mouth. When started young it may last a few months. From the age of 12, it can take a year or two and perhaps more for adults. However it depends very much on your personal situation and your orthodontists will be able to advise you.