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What are Braces and How do They Work?

Braces are devices which are used to straighten teeth, correct bite problems and fix irregular teeth.

They are made of three basic parts:
– Brackets
– 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.

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Overcoming Problems with Braces

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.

Adult Braces and Self esteem

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.

What Adult Orthodontic Treatment Feels Like

The early stages of orthodontic treatment can be a little harder for adult patients than for teenagers.

Teenagers have the benefit of getting treatment while they are still growing and their mouth is more flexible.

In some cases, adults will need to have teeth removed or will require surgery to expand their jaw to make room for moving the teeth. This may not be fun but anaesthetics and painkillers make this a short-term concern compared to the long-term benefits.

When the orthodontist actually puts in your braces, your mouth may be tender for a few days though this should clear up quickly.

Beyond that, the only time you are likely to notice your braces is when you have them tightened.

Some adults say that they feel like their teeth have come loose at the beginning.

The reason is that when you are older your teeth are more firmly anchored into your jaw.

The orthodontist needs to loosen the little filaments that anchor your teeth before the teeth will move.

This can mean your teeth feel loose. However, the feeling is no reason for concern. They will tighten again after the orthodontic treatment.

Beyond that, the basics of orthodontic treatment are the same at any age. Your mouth will feel tender for a few days after you first get the braces and you will experience some discomfort when your braces are tightened.

Common Questions About Orthodontics

How does orthodontics work?
The job of an orthodontist is to help fix crooked teeth and jaw problems so that your teeth are in the right place in your mouth.

This may require the orthodontist to take action that helps stretch your jaw or move your teeth so that everything fits properly.

One action they can take is using tools such as braces to push on your teeth so they move into the right place.

If your top jaw is too small, they may install an expander to make it grow wider. Your jaw can be stretched or widened or moved to change its shape.

There are various other steps they can take to move your teeth or expand your jaw so that your teeth all fit comfortably and correctly in your mouth.

At what age should I start orthodontic treatment?
You can get orthodontic treatment at any age from toddlers to old age. The best and least painful time for orthodontic treatment is usually when you are between about 8 to 14.

Between 8 and 9 is usually when the jaw is growing fastest and so is the best time to reshape your mouth.

Permanent teeth usually come in between age 12 or 14 and that is the best time to start full orthodontic treatment.

What happens if I wait until I am older for orthodontic treatment?
You can get braces at any age but as you get older the treatment takes longer and may hurt a bit more. Nevertheless the benefits are still significant.

Your Questions Answered About Braces

Here are the answers to five common questions about the implications of having braces.

Does having braces affect the way I talk?
Standard braces don’t normally affect how you talk or the sound of your voice. Sometimes, you may find it difficult for the first couple of days but then you will be able to talk fine.

Are there any activities that I should avoid when I have braces?
You can continue to do most things such as enjoying sports and playing musical instruments. For some sports, you should wear an orthodontic mouth guard. It is also best to avoid activities where you could suffer a lot of blows to your mouth such as boxing or karate.

Does having braces affect what I eat?
You can continue to eat most foods when you wear braces. In the first few days, you would probably be advised to stick to softer foods.

After that, you may need to be careful with hard or sticky foods like caramel and some nuts. You want to make sure the food does not stick on your braces or pull them off your teeth.

In addition, chewing gum is usually not recommended. Some sugar free gums have been reported as causing less problems but talk to your orthodontist if you want to be able to chew gum.

Can the braces come off?
This can happen and it is usually not a major problem. Your orthodontist will attach them again. If it happens a lot, some larger adjustments may be needed.

What happens if a piece comes off and I swallow it?
This is quite rare but it is usually not a major problem. Any parts that you swallow should just pass through your digestive system.

Why Modern Teenagers Need Braces

Many teenagers wonder why they need to wear braces.

Is it all about cosmetics or is there something more important?

Back in the days of the cave men, teenagers were only two or three feet tall.

But over the last 10,000 years, people have got bigger. While our mouths have got a little bigger, our teeth got a lot bigger.

As a result, teeth no longer fit correctly into most people’s mouths.

While improving your smile is a great reason for getting braces, there are more important problems that can arise if you don’t deal with crooked teeth.

Digestion Problems: If your teeth are not straight, you will not be able to chew your food correctly and this can lead to stomach problems

Dental Problems: If you don’t deal with crooked teeth early on, your teeth will be hard to clean, and you will face gum problems and greater wear on your teeth.

Breathing problem: As you get older the roof of your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose making you snore loudly. The risk of this can be reduced by having braces.

Truth is about 70% of teenagers need braces and therefore having braces will not make you feel different to most of your friends.