Braces are dental tools that are used to correct problems with your teeth – crowding, crooked teeth, or teeth that are out of alignment. Many people get braces when they’re teenagers, but adults get them too. As you wear them, braces slowly straighten and align your teeth so you have a normal bite. Some people get braces to adjust their smile.
If you have crooked teeth and/or a misaligned bite (an underbite or overbite), there are a variety of treatments that can help straighten teeth, including braces and retainers, custom-made, removable or fixed tools that cover the outside of your teeth and help keep them in position.
Many general dentists do basic alignment and treat other tooth problems, but orthodontists specialize in correcting issues with your teeth. An orthodontist has 2 to 3 years of advanced orthodontic education and training beyond dental school. They specialize in straightening teeth, correcting misaligned bites, and jaw problems.
The dentist or orthodontist you choose will ask questions about your health, do a clinical exam, take a digital scan of your teeth, take photos of your face and teeth, and order X-rays of the mouth and head. They’ll come up with a treatment plan based on this information.
You might only need a removable retainer. If you have an extreme overbite or underbite, you could need surgery. But most people need braces.
For basics, Dentists utilise dental braces for a number of reasons when providing orthodontic therapy. Correction of a bad “bite” or malocclusion (crooked teeth) is one of their most popular applications, nevertheless.
Malocclusion occurs when the teeth of the two jaws are misaligned and protrude over one another. While for some, the condition may appear to be only cosmetic and not severe, for others, malocclusion can cause pain, trouble eating, or even speaking.
Malocclusion may run in families or may result from injury to the teeth, thumb sucking, or tooth loss.
Wearing a braces to correct malocclusion and minimise tooth crookedness as well as excess space between them frequently leads in improved oral health. Because corrected teeth and gums are easier to clean, the risk of disorders like tooth decay, gingivitis, and even tooth loss is minimized.
Therefore, Dental braces straighten your teeth and correct a wide range of orthodontic issues, such as:
- Crooked teeth.
- Crowded teeth.
- Gapped teeth.
- Malocclusion (issues with the way your teeth fit together).
Many children and teens wear braces, but adult braces are common, too. In fact, about 20% of all orthodontic patients in the United States are over the age of 18.
In most cases, orthodontists place braces. But some general dentists offer them too.
Types of braces?
There are several different types of braces. The type that’s best for you depends on a few factors, including the kind of issue you have, the severity of your condition and your personal preferences.
When you think of braces, traditional metal braces might be what you imagine. Metal braces use stainless steel bands, brackets and wires to gently shift your teeth over time.
A dentist or orthodontist will bond (glue) a bracket on each tooth, then place a thin, flexible archwire over the brackets. Tiny elastic bands called ligatures keep the wire firmly in place.
Metal braces are visible when you smile. You can choose clear or tooth-colored ligatures to make your braces less noticeable. Or, if you’re feeling festive, you can choose brightly colored ligatures.
Ceramic braces — sometimes called clear braces — work the same way as metal braces. The key difference is that the brackets, wires and ligatures are tooth-colored, so they blend in with your smile. Ceramic braces are still visible, but they’re less noticeable. One drawback to ceramic braces is that they’re more fragile than metal braces, so they’re more likely to break.
Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces. But they go on the back surfaces of your teeth instead of the front. Most people who choose lingual braces do so because they don’t want other people to be able to tell they have braces.
Self-ligating braces look similar to traditional metal braces. The main difference is that, instead of ligatures (tiny elastic bands), self-ligating braces use a built-in system to hold the archwire in place.
Sometimes called “invisible braces,” clear aligners are a braces alternative. Instead of brackets and wires, clear aligners use a series of custom-made trays to straighten your teeth over time.
With these systems, you wear each set of aligner trays for approximately two weeks. Then, you swap those trays out for the next set in the series. Unlike metal braces, clear aligners are removable. But you have to wear them for at least 22 hours every day. You should only take your aligners out to eat, drink and brush your teeth.
What age is best for braces?
You’re never too old for orthodontics. That said, the best time for braces is generally between the ages of 9 and 14. At this point, your jaws and facial bones are more malleable (flexible) because they’re still developing. Adult braces are just as effective, but it might take a little longer to achieve the desired results.
What are the benefits of dental braces?
The most obvious advantage of braces is a straighter, more beautiful smile. But braces can also:
- Make your teeth easier to clean.
- Help prevent cavities and gum disease.
- Correct temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
- Restore proper functions like chewing and speaking.
In short, braces can improve the health, function and appearance of your smile.
What are the normal side effects of braces?
There are some mild, expected side effects of braces, including:
- Temporary discomfort (which usually occurs the first day and any time your dentist tightens your braces).
- Irritation on your tongue, lips or inner cheeks.
- Jaw pain.
- Difficulty eating (especially after a tightening).
You can manage most of these side effects with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. You can also purchase dental wax for braces at your local pharmacy to help with irritation inside your mouth. Simply place some wax over any rough-feeling brackets or wire.
What can you eat with braces?
After you get your braces, you’ll want to stick to soft foods for a few days. Good options include:
- Cooked vegetables.
- Mashed potatoes.
- Scrambled eggs.
- Soft fruits.
Once the discomfort wears off, you can start adding other foods to your diet.
You should avoid certain hard and sticky foods the entire time you have braces. This includes nuts, caramels and crunchy fruits and veggies.
Yes, you can chew sugarless gum. Be sure to shop for brands that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Teeth braces do not only enhance your smile, but they also improve oral health and function.
Most patients need to wear the braces for one to three years and it is important that good oral hygiene is maintained during this time. Brushing and flossing daily, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet and visiting the dentist regularly are all very important factors in ensuring the success of the braces.