It used to be that dental braces were used after a child had lost their baby teeth and their adult teeth had erupted. But now they are used for anyone who needs to have their teeth straightened and properly aligned so they have a proper bite and better overall oral health.
Why dental braces?
You may have been told you need dental braces, or you may have seen your child’s friends starting to get them and you are pretty sure your child will be next. But why do people need to have braces? There are several things that they can fix.
By getting braces, you will be able to straighten your teeth and protect them by having them line up correctly so your bite is solid and your teeth don’t wear down incorrectly. Down the line, that can prevent oral care procedures including teeth extractions, dentures, implants, or oral surgery to repair the underlying jaw bone. And that can help reduce your oral care costs over time. A small investment now can have big payoffs down the road.
Braces bring the teeth into correct alignment and straighten crooked teeth so the enamel isn’t worn down prematurely or inaccurately.
What kinds of dental braces are there?
There are three main kinds of dental braces – traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, and clear aligners.
- Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces – They are also the least expensive version, and they usually are the fastest to get your teeth into their new positions. Your brackets are all made of stainless steel and the archwire is also metal. New space-age materials have been introduced in recent years that make the archwires heat activated, so they move your teeth faster based on the heat of your mouth. New materials in each metal bracket also mean that they are smaller and lighter than ever before.
- Ceramic braces – These are very similar in function to metal braces except the brackets are made from a ceramic material that is closely matched to the color of your teeth.
- Clear aligners – These clear plastic trays are custom-made to fit your teeth and, like braces, apply gentle pressure to move teeth into their new position. Since they don’t use brackets and wires, they can be truly invisible since they can be removed when needed.
You may have heard of lingual braces. These are metal or ceramic braces that are affixed to the back, or lingual, side of your teeth. They work very similarly to their metal-wired cousins on the front of the teeth but because they are on the back, they are completely hidden from view, making them ideal for anyone who works in an industry where appearance matters, like acting or modeling.
How do dental braces work?
Braces are comprised of some standard parts. You will have brackets affixed to your teeth that are connected by an archwire. Over the top of the brackets are small rubber bands or elastics that keep the wire in place. These rubber bands now come in a wide variety of colors so you can mix and match and create your own fun combinations. You can even switch out the colored bands every time you go in and pick out something new.
Every few weeks you will go visit your orthodontist to get your dental braces tightened. What does that mean exactly? Getting your braces tightened usually involves your orthodontist pulling the archwire back ever so slightly through the tracks and snipping off the extra wire that now appears out the back of the rear molar bracket. You may also be given some rubber bands to help pull your jaws into alignment. These will attach to tiny hooks on the brackets and may be used to help move the jaws to correct an overbite or underbite, or you may have a different pattern for conditions like crossbites.
Braces work by using all of the components to apply gentle pressure on the teeth and guide them into their new positions. Any gaps between teeth are closed and alignment issues are corrected.
All of that seems so simple and straightforward, right? So that might make you wonder why it takes usually two years to complete your orthodontic treatment. The answer lies in the bones – your bones to be exact. As the teeth move, the new one has to form behind them so that the teeth stay secure. If they aren’t solidly set, you risk losing them. And that is why that last year of wearing braces seems like it takes forever! The teeth are mostly set, but there are some micro-adjustments still to make as it can take as long as 10 months for that bone matrix to set solid.
When should I get dental braces?
The short answer is you can get dental braces any time. There are some people in their 60s and 70s who are getting braces to preserve and protect their natural teeth as long as possible. So perhaps the better question is when is the best time to get dental braces?
Kids around age seven should be seen by an orthodontist to assess their mouths and how their adult teeth look to be growing in. Most of the time kids this age will not actually end up getting braces, but rather the orthodontist will begin treatment planning by either using orthodontic appliances that can widen the palate and make more room for the adult teeth, or plan what kind of braces your child will need in a few years once most if not all of the adult teeth have grown in. And that happens between ages 10 and 14 usually, with the wisdom teeth coming in somewhere between ages 16 and 20.
This early treatment is called interceptive orthodontic treatment and it may even take place in a couple of stages. That first treatment is done when your child is young and though it may involve braces, generally speaking, it does not. This is followed by teeth with braces later on. It is also entirely possible that this two-stage approach actually means your child will have orthodontic appliances for a shorter amount of time.
Dental braces are an effective tool in straightening teeth and aligning your jaws so you not only have a great-looking smile, you have a healthy one. They are most often used in tweens and teens, but anyone at any age can get braces and get on the road to better health. You can choose from metal braces, tooth-colored ceramic braces, or clear aligners, and even accessorize your braces with fun colored bands. Start your journey to a healthy mouth by contacting your orthodontist today.
IVANOV Orthodontic Experts, 12866 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, FL 33181
Call us at (786) 540-1919 to schedule a free orthodontic exam.
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