Wondering what those funky metal works are doing in some mouths?
Braces are a set of dental tools that help in straightening and aligning crooked or misaligned teeth. While most people get braces to enhance their appearance, they can also restore proper function and health of the teeth and surrounding gums. Although most individuals who get braces are teenagers, this treatment can also be carried out in adults successfully.
Do I require braces
There are several reasons why you might require braces. Some of the indications are:
Spacing or gaps between the teeth
Excessively proclined or reclined front teeth
Lowered teeth in front of upper teeth (underbite)
Excessive overlap or traumatic bite
Most of these situations not only impede the appearance, but they may also hamper the normal functioning of the teeth and the jaws. Some conditions may also inflict injury to gums or lead to gum diseases. Visiting your dentist is highly recommended if you feel you have any of the above mentioned problems.
Types of Dental Braces
There are multiple treatment options when it comes to aligning teeth with braces, and each of them have their own set of pros and cons. The most common types of braces are outlined below:
These are metallic braces that are usually made of high grade stainless steel. They consist of metal structures called brackets, that are fixed onto the teeth with dental cement. The brackets are further attached to a metal wire, which helps in transmitting the force required to move the teeth. The brackets are also secured to the wire with certain elastics called o-rings or ligatures. Metal braces have been in the market for years, and provide excellent results. The only drawback of these braces is their very obvious, metallic appearance.
These are quite similar to the conventional metal braces, except that the brackets are made of a clear ceramic material that usually matches the teeth colour. They are not as noticeable as metal braces and hence considered to be more esthetic in appearance.
This system of braces is quickly gaining popularity among orthodontists due to its simplicity and precise control. The brackets in this system are 'self-ligating' which makes it easier to connect the wire to the bracket, without the use of other elastics. This also ensures faster results as the movement of teeth occurs on its own without warranting constant adjustments. Another advantage of this system is that it inflicts less pain during tooth movement as there is less pressure exerted between the wire and bracket.
These new systems of braces are custom-made trays that resemble mouth guards. Due to their clear, transparent appearance they are very inconspicuous and highly esthetic. Invisalign is one such aligner system that is widely used nowadays. These aligners are removable and can be kept aside while having your meals, making them very comfortable to use. They need to be worn for a minimum of 20 hours per day and require changing once every 2-3 weeks.
Process of getting braces
The treatment for dental braces is typically carried out by an orthodontist. The initial visit involves a thorough diagnosis, with a set of X rays and models. Your dentist will determine whether your case is suitable for treatment with dental braces. They may also suggest getting some teeth extracted in case your teeth are overcrowded. Here’s how it works:
Placement of dental braces
Adjustment at regular intervals/Changing of aligners
Removal of braces after completion of alignment
Retainers to maintain the repositioned teeth in the same alignment
During the course of the treatment, you may have to visit your dentist at frequent intervals for minor adjustments. Your dentist will determine when to remove the braces depending on the progress. The process may take upto a year or more depending on the severity of malocclusion.
What to expect while wearing braces
Wearing braces has become relatively painless and comfortable of late due to the recent advances. Many clear aligners are extremely easy to use and have the added benefit of being removable, which makes it quite easy to eat with them. Fixed braces may feel slightly uncomfortable till your mouth gets adapted to them. Maintaining your oral hygiene is a must when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Regular brushing and rinsing is highly recommended.
Remember that braces/aligners are meant to move teeth, so there may be slight pressure that is exerted on the teeth which may cause soreness or tenderness.