How braces work?
Braces exert even, constant pressure onto teeth in order to move them to a desired position. Bands are placed around the molars that will anchor the braces. A small bracket is then glued to each tooth using dental cement. Wire is placed through each bracket and attached to the bands. This creates the pressure that will slowly move the teeth into position. Regular visits to the orthodontist/dentist are required to check the progress of the teeth and adjust the tension as required.
There are different types of braces, like metal, ceramic and lingual braces. Your dentist will advise you what is the best suitable option for you during your consultation appointment.
Who Is a Candidate for Braces?
It is recommended that children should be seen for their first orthodontic consultation no later than age 7. While the age of 7 may seem unusually early to consider braces, this pre-screening will give the dentist the opportunity to use preventative measures to possibly correct situations that may lead to braces in the future, and /or advise the parent on future orthodontic treatment planning. Adults seeking orthodontic treatment may consult with their dentist at any time since it is never too late to consider correcting your teeth.
The initial consultation with the dentist is typically a visual evaluation of the patient’s teeth and facial structure, with discussion to follow. If we require some more in-depth information, or the patient agrees to begin treatment, records are taken of the patient. These diagnostic tools, consisting of x-rays, models of the patient’s teeth, and photographs of the patient’s face and teeth, are used by the dentist to study and formulate a treatment plan to present to the patient.
Why You Might Need Braces?
Braces are used to move teeth into the ideal position and align how they bite together, known as occlusion. Malocclusion is used to describe the misalignment of teeth between the upper and lower dental arches, using the first molars as a reference point. There are three different types of misalignment, defined by the Angles Classification Method. Developed by Dr. Edward Angle, considered by many the founding father of orthodontics, this method of classification is widely used by dentists around the world
Class I – Considered the ideal relationship between the upper and lower teeth. Crowding or spacing may be present with Class I bite.
Class II – Commonly known as “overbite.” The patient’s lower first molar is positioned posterior, or more towards the back of the mouth. The upper jaw, or maxilla, appears to protrude forward. Class II bite has two subclasses that also describe the position of the upper front teeth, but in both cases, the molar relationship is the same.
Class III – The patient’s lower first molar is positioned anterior, or closer to the front of the mouth. The lower jaw, or mandible, protrudes forward, and is best described as an “underbite.”
While some patients may have the ideal bite, they may suffer from varying degrees of crowding or spacing, another factor associated with a misaligned bite. Crowding is a condition that causes the teeth to overlap, rotate, and in some cases, grow into the incorrect position in the mouth, or in more extreme cases, cause the tooth to become trapped in the bone. Crowding may be caused because the dental arch is too small for the adult teeth, or the adult teeth are larger than normal. Crowding may also be caused by losing the primary or baby teeth early or retaining them in the mouth longer than normal. These factors may inhibit the adult tooth, forcing it to erupt or grow into an incorrect position. Crowding makes it difficult to brush and floss the teeth correctly, possibly resulting in tooth decay or gingivitis.
Alternatively, varying degrees of spacing may be present, due to smaller teeth or jaw size. The most obvious example of spacing is the diastema, a space between the upper two front teeth, known as the centrals, made famous by Madonna.
More Than Just Straight Teeth
Misaligned teeth and an incorrect bite may affect more than just the appearance of your smile. The following conditions may potentially be corrected by dentists
- Speech impediments
- Jaw or TMJ pain
- Difficulty chewing and eating
- Sleep apnea caused by mouth breathing and snoring
- Grinding or clenching of the teeth
- Gum disease and tooth decay
Patients experiencing any of the above symptoms should contact their dentist to determine the cause of their condition. Aesthetics do, however, play an important role when it comes to deciding if braces are right for you. Self-confidence may improve for patients that have concerns with the appearance of their teeth or facial shape. Many treatment options are available for correcting the look of your teeth and smile.
How long are braces worn?
The length of time that you need to wear braces is dependent on the condition you are being treated for, the type of braces you are wearing and your age. It could be as little as six months or as long as two years. Discuss this with your dentist or orthodontist at your initial appointment to get a more accurate idea of the period of time.
Eating with braces
You will need to make some adjustments to what you eat once you are fitted with braces. The obvious foods to avoid are sugary sticky lollies, bubblegum, chewing gum and popcorn. It’s also best to avoid hard foods like nuts, biscuits and crusty breads. You do need to watch out for foods that you generally bite into with your front teeth, such as apples, corn on the cob, carrots and chicken wings. However, there’s no need to cut these foods from your diet. Simply cut them into small chunks and use your back teeth for chewing.
The good news is that there are still plenty of delicious foods that you can enjoy. Steamed vegetables, yoghurt, cheese, and seafood are all suitable. Soft fruits, such as bananas, oranges and kiwi fruit, are fantastic, and soups, eggs and chicken can all stay on the menu.
Caring for braces
It generally takes more time and effort to maintain your oral health while wearing braces. The nature of braces means they often trap food that must be cleaned out carefully and diligently. You need to brush your teeth, floss and use mouthwash after every meal and snack. Use a small bendable floss brush to clean between and around wires or it may be worthwhile to purchase a water flosser that cleans using a pressurised stream of water.
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