When people think of orthodontics, the first image is of a young person with those metal squares on their teeth attached by a wire across. Braces are just one part of what makes up specialized dental care. Orthodontists are dental specialists who usually complete at least two years of additional training and experience. Their focus is to diagnose, prevent, and treat irregularities in the teeth and jaws, especially issues with alignment and the contact between the upper and lower teeth.
Some of the more specific problems that orthodontics can treat include crowded teeth, tooth protrusion, the spacing between teeth, abnormal meeting of the upper and lower jaws, or teeth that are unable to meet. Because of how many different varieties of problems exists, dentists need extra training to help people with those issues and learn how to use a variety of methods to fix them. This includes using appliances or tools like braces and aligners made from different materials, depending on what you need. Retainers are a method to preserve and stabilize all the work orthodontists do.
At What Age Should You Get Braces?
Depending on the treatment needed, children need to see an orthodontist for an evaluation by age seven. This can allow for early detection of specific problems that may need corrective action sooner and can mean less difficult treatment later in life. Age is not a major factor for who can get braces or corrective appliances. The only potential issue is the health of your gums and the bone that supports your jaw and teeth. Even missing teeth is not as big of a deal as you think, and sometimes having braces is necessary to allow for your dentist to replace them.
How Do Teeth Move With Braces?
Your teeth are not directly connected to your jaw with bone. Instead, there is a membrane beneath your gums that controls where your teeth are and can be adjusted with pressure. Braces are a method that specialists use to apply pressure in appropriate ways and adjust how your teeth align. Getting the most out of your braces means you need to follow the treatment plan laid out by your orthodontist. Each person is unique in what will help them based on specific criteria like your age or comorbid problems like an overbite with crooked teeth. The orthodontist customizes braces for each patient.
What Are Braces?
Classic braces are made of metal brackets secured individually to each of your teeth with glue. The pressure is applied to your teeth and jawline with an archwire. Elastic O-rings connect that wire to the brackets. Periodically, the orthodontist will switch the elastic bands out and adjust the archwire as your teeth move slowly into their corrected place.
You can have the stainless-steel brackets, plastic brackets of a specific color, or ceramic ones that better match the color of your teeth and are considered “clear.” Usually, the application is simply uncomfortable at the visit. With the use of brackets, pressure can be applied evenly across your teeth. Despite the bracket options, the archwire that connects them can only be made of stainless steel, nickel-titanium, or copper titanium.
What Are the Parts of Braces?
There are elastic bands placed around the brackets on your teeth that add pressure to your jaw. Your orthodontist may place spacers made of rubber bands or metal rings between your molars. These spacers add space at the back of your mouth and push your jaw forward. They are not always used for everyone and only for a small portion of the time, typically one to two weeks.
Buccal tubes are metal parts attached to a molar. They can anchor parts of the braces at the back of your mouth and can be tightened or can release different parts. A sight to see, a facebow headgear is usually worn at night and used to add more pressure on your teeth when special correction is needed. This type of appliance is used rarely and is an addition to braces only when needed.
How Long Will I Need Braces For?
Because everyone is different, the time you need them will vary depending on the work that needs to be done. Treatment with braces can take anywhere from six to 30 months, although most standard treatments average between 20-24 months. Adults are opting to go through the process of getting dental orthodonture treatment more recently. In their case, the tissue and jawline have become fully developed, which may increase the time it takes the treatment to work, unlike in children and adolescents. Some issues cannot be solved after the growing process has ended.
Are There Alternatives to Braces?
The most common alternative to gluing brackets to your teeth is invisible braces or aligner trays. Made of clear plastic, they are made using a mold of your teeth and provide a uniform pressure from all sides. Usually, your orthodontist will make a new one for each phase for adjustments instead of tightening a wire. This can allow you to go about your day without people noticing you have a corrective appliance on your teeth. There are also parts of braces, like the brackets, you can get made of different materials. Your orthodontist can give you options at your first appointment.
Why Get Braces?
Speaking, biting, and chewing can be affected by whether the upper and lower jaws meet appropriately with straight teeth. This can be the difference for a child or teen facing the rest of their life with potentially damaging health risks or dealing with social stigmas and bullying. Adults are also reaching out to specialists to adjust their dental issues. Orthodontics is useful for any age.
Are Braces Painful or Painless?
The installation of braces can be uncomfortable but is generally painless. In the days following your placement and during and after adjustments, your gums and mouth may feel sore or uncomfortable. A dull soreness or throbbing sensation is the most common feeling of pain with braces. Anything that feels worse than what is described by your orthodontist can usually be taken care of by an over-the-counter pain reliever.
How Do I Clean Orthodontic Appliances?
Of course, you should continue your oral care routine, including brushing and rinsing. Flossing will change depending on the type of appliance your orthodontist gives you, and they will instruct you on how to manage it. The biggest changes to make sure not to damage braces are avoiding certain foods and possibly increasing the frequency you brush. High sugar content, hard candy, popcorn, chewing gum, and other sticky foods can be the cause of extending treatment or worse.
Who Do I See?
It is also important to continue to see your regular dentist every six months and your orthodontist every eight to 10 weeks. It is easy to miss small food pieces that get caught in all the tiny parts of braces, and dentists can help prevent additional problems like cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease from occurring while you wear braces. Both professionals will work together to keep your teeth healthy.
Let Us Help
Keeping track of your oral health is very important, and Dr. Sharma can help you get set on the right path, whether you need orthodontics or not. A properly aligned jaw and straight teeth can affect your overall health and appearance. With the pressure from braces that can help adjust your jawline, your smile can appear how you want it to. The treatment is a long-term process that takes time to get right.
For more information about braces, or to discuss your options with our dentists and orthodontists in Lincoln Park, contact us today.