Braces are orthodontic appliances that can help straighten out crooked and crowded teeth.
As well as making you look better, they can help improve your dental health.
Many people have been put off wearing them because of how they look but modern braces can be very inconspicuous.
One way of making them inconspicuous is by having the brackets – the part that attaches to each tooth – fixed to the back of the tooth.
The brackets can be also be made in many different materials such as metal, ceramic or plastic so they can be more attractive or less visible.
They can also be designed to appear less noticeable – say be being clear or tooth-colored.
You can also choose to have them in virtually any color. You can even have them gold-plated or glowing in the dark.
Some people like to have their braces shaped in as something distinctive such as a heart or a football.
Orthodontic treatment is about straightening out crooked and crowded teeth and may use special appliances such as braces.
While most dentists can deal with minor orthodontic problems, they will often refer patients to an orthodontist for more specialist care.
Orthodontists are dentists with additional training and they specialize in the treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
One of the key aspects of orthodontics is straightening teeth and correcting jaw alignment.
This can be done through braces, corrective procedures and other ‘appliances’.
There are two types of braces:
– Removable: The patient can take these out of their mouth at any time
– Fixed Braces: These are worn all the time and have to be removed by a dentist
The length of time a person needs to wear braces varies depending on the condition but most people wear braces for between one and three years.
After the braces are no longer needed, the person usually need to wear a ‘retainer’ for some time that holds teeth in their new position.
Modern braces are much more comfortable than ever and usually require fewer adjustments than older apparatus.
Here is the truth on some common myths about orthodontists
Myth – Any dentist can straighten my teeth.
Truth – An orthodontist is a specialist at straightening teeth with two or three years of additional training after dental school.
They usually see hundreds of orthodontic patients a year where some family dentists may see only a handful.
Myth – Only children wear braces
Truth – Around 20% of orthodontic patients are adults
Myth – You only need to see an orthodontist for very complex cases.
Truth – Orthodontists have wide experience and deal with all types of orthodontic issue. However, their wide experience means they know exactly what to do in the most complex cases.
Myth – Seeing an orthodontist is more expensive than going to a general dentists for orthodontic treatment.
Truth – They are usually doing different work. An orthodontist offers value as an expert, highly experienced professional with specific training in this field.
Myth – Braces are painful and take years to work
Fact – Like a new pair of shoes, braces are perfectly comfortable after an initial ‘breaking in’ or adjustment period. Braces can get results after just a few months.
Myth – Braces are ugly and embarrassing in business settings.
Truth – Today braces can be made from clear plastic and can be nearly invisible. They can also be mounted on the back side of the teeth so that they are not visible.
While having a great smile can make you feel good, teeth that are out of alignment can affect the way you feel around others.
Apart from the way you feel, crooked teeth and bite problems can affect your general health as well as your dental health.
Orthodontics is the specialist branch of dentistry that helps deal with bite problems and teeth that are out of alignment.
The best known part of orthodontics is the uses of braces to straighten teeth, sort out spacing issues and resolve other dental problems as well as issues with the jaw and palate.
Dental Braces have three parts – brackets, band and arch wire.
Brackets are attached to each tooth with a band and arch wire runs between the brackets.
This applies pressure over a period of time to straighten teeth which have grown awkwardly.
While the traditional metal braces are still the most common, there is now a wide range of additional options such as ceramic braces, Invisalign braces, self-ligating braces and lingual 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
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
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.
Braces are devices which are used to straighten teeth, correct bite problems and fix irregular teeth.
They are made of three basic parts:
– Bonding (or band)
– Arch wire
The bonding is used to fix the brackets to the teeth.
The arch wire goes through the brackets and is held in place with small rubber bands.
The brackets and arch wire work together to move the teeth into new positions to straighten the teeth.
The arch wire works by putting pressure on the brackets to help move the teeth into the desired new position.
When pressure is applied to your teeth like this, they loosen slightly from the gums. Bone grows in to support the tooth in its new position but this takes time so the process needs to be done slowly.
That’s why you may have to wear braces for about two years and adjustments are only made every few weeks.
The arch wires work because they want to keep their original shape and will exert a great deal of pressure to do this. It is the combination of this aim of the arch wire and the person’s body heat that puts pressure on the teeth.
Braces are not always enough on their own to complete the task so the orthodontist may also use rubber bands or other devices to help pull the teeth in the correct direction.
After you have finished with the braces, you may need to wear a Retainer for a few months to hold the teeth in position until the bone has fully grown into place.
Most people get used to braces quickly and wear them for as long as they need to with no problems.
However, occasional problems can arise and taking the right steps enables you to resolve them quickly.
Here are some examples of problems that may arise.
Allergic Reaction: Some people can have an allergic reaction to the elastic or the metal used in braces. Alternative materials can normally be used so it is important to let your orthodontist know of any allergies.
Mouth Sores: There may be irritation due to some parts of the braces. This is more commons in the early stages but there are many products available such as oral rinses and dental wax that help heal sores quickly.
Build Up of Plaque: It is important to keep up your regular oral care routine of brushing and flossing to prevent food building up around braces as this can lead to build up of plaque which can cause tooth decay and bad breath.
Damaged Braces: Braces can be damaged if not cared for properly. Certain hard or sticky foods can cause damage as can mouth injuries when playing sports. If damage occurs frequently, it can mean the treatment takes longer.
Arch Wire Movement: If the arch wire becomes displaced, it can cause irritation and mouth ulcers. Dental wax helps but it is usually best to have the damage fixed by an orthodontist.
Discomfort: Pain and discomfort may occur after first installation and also after any adjustments but these usually pass quickly.
A lot of effort is made to help teenagers feel better about having braces.
However as around 70% of teenagers need braces, it’s a very common experience.
Yet adults can also need braces and it is less common amongst their peers so adults often have more issues about what other people think of them when they go to work and to social events with braces.
Feedback suggests many men feel a bit geeky with braces while women often feel unattractive.
Of course, some adults don’t care what other people think but many do.
The fact is the braces may seem like a big deal for you, especially at first because they are in your mouth. However, most other people barely notice or may just mention it in passing.
Many adults wore braces as kids or have kids who are in braces.
They are likely to be sympathetic and may even admire you for taking action to improve your appearance.
Several high profile actors and musicians have also worn braces as adults and this makes it much easier.
Of course, you may need to be prepared to answer questions – especially when some people meet you for the first time. So you may need a plan for dealing with certain events such as important business meetings.