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.
At Therapeuo our braces specialist doctor (orthodontist) specializes in correcting irregularities of the teeth and jaw.
In some cases, a removable retainer will be all that’s necessary. In other rare cases (especially when there is an extreme overbite or underbite), surgery may be necessary. In most cases, however, braces will be needed.
Dental braces have come a long way since they were invented in the 1800s. Today, we are privy to a large number of tooth-straightening options, each of which offers different benefits. Currently, the most popular types of braces used are:
Metal Braces – These are traditional braces most often seen in children and teenagers. Metal braces use a system of brackets and wires to move the teeth over time.
Ceramic Braces – “Ceramic, or “clear,” braces are made of materials that are weaker and more brittle than their metal counterpart. Ceramic brackets are larger than metal brackets and require small rubber bands, or ligatures, (or built-in spring clips on “self-ligating” brackets) to hold them to the archwire. Because the ligatures are white or clear, they can stain. However, staining is not a big problem because ligatures are changed every time you get an adjustment (generally monthly). The “self-ligating” clips do not require retying with wires or elastics.
- Also, like metal braces, ceramic brackets are not removable until treatment is completed, can produce irritation and discomfort, and may complicate regular tooth care, eating, and speaking.
- Because they are not as strong as metal braces, clear braces require a longer treatment time, since your orthodontist may need to apply a slower, more gradual force to ensure the strength capabilities of the clear brackets are not overtaxed.
- Ceramic brackets also are usually more expensive than traditional metal brackets.
- These braces work like traditional metal braces, except that the brackets bonded to the teeth are made of ceramic. This helps prevent staining, and they can also be color-matched to blend with the teeth.
Traditional braces are more effective at treating extreme overcrowding than other options like clear braces or Invisalign aligners and are less expensive. They give our orthodontist the control needed to move the teeth in small increments at a time. The main disadvantage of traditional braces is the metal mouth appearance or the bulky brackets in the mouth which could lead to ulcers and difficulty in chewing regular food.
While less noticeable orthodontics like Invisible aligners (Invisalign, Flash orthodontics, I-Aligners) may seem like a better choice for those who are conscious of their appearance, today’s braces are more visually appealing than in past years, with a range of color options for both the brackets and the elastics. Wearing these types of braces (metal or ceramic) also means that you don’t have to worry about ever misplacing your aligners.
How do Metal/Ceramic braces work?
In their entirety, braces work by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. As the teeth move, the bone changes shape as pressure is applied.
Braces are made up of the following components:
- Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth with a special dental bonding agent or are attached to orthodontic bands. Brackets act like handles, holding the archwires that move the teeth. There are several types of brackets, including stainless steel and tooth-colored ceramic or plastic, which are often selected because they’re less obvious. Occasionally, brackets are cemented to the back of teeth, in order to hide them from view.
- Orthodontic bands are stainless steel, clear, or tooth-colored materials that are cemented to the teeth with dental bonding agents. They wrap around each tooth to provide an anchor for the brackets. The clear or tooth-colored bands are more cosmetically appealing options but are more expensive than stainless steel. They are not used in all patients. Some people have only brackets and no bands.
- Orthodontic Spacers are separators that fit between teeth to create a small space prior to the placement of orthodontic bands.
- Arch wires attach to the brackets and act as tracks to guide the movement of the teeth. Archwires can be made of metal or be clear or tooth-colored.
- Ties are small rubber rings or fine wires that fasten the archwire to the brackets. They can be clear, metal, or colored.
- A buccal tube on the band of the last tooth holds the end of the archwire securely in place.
- Tiny elastic rubber bands, called ligatures, hold the archwires to the brackets.
- Springs may be placed on the archwires between brackets to push, pull, open, or close the spaces between teeth.
- Elastics or rubber bands attach to hooks on brackets and are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways. They apply pressure to move the upper teeth against the lower teeth to achieve a perfect fit of individual teeth.
Taking care of your braces
If you and our dentist/orthodontist decide that metal braces are the right choice for your orthodontic needs,
some things to keep in mind include:
- Avoid foods that aren’t braces-friendly. A few examples of these foods are:
- Nuts – hard nuts such as almonds or walnuts can break the brace’s wires
- Sticky candies – sticky candies such as caramels (for example Eclair) or candy bars are off-limits
- Popcorn – the hard kernels can damage your braces
- Fibrous vegetables – raw or fibrous vegetables are a bad choice while wearing braces
- Bread/Toast – these could be are too hard and chewy
- Corn chips – or other crunchy snacks
- Whole raw fruit – avoid fruits such as apples and pears
- Tough meat – tough meat such as steak or pork chops or mutton
- Peanut butter – along with other sticky nut butter
- Following the installation of your braces, you must eat soft foods that won’t irritate your gums, tongue, or palate. After a few days, your mouth will become more accustomed to the metal braces and you can follow your orthodontist’s suggested diet.
- Brush and floss appropriately. Taking proper care of your teeth is always important, but it is especially true when you have braces. Brushing and flossing regularly will keep your braces looking good and help you avoid staining to your teeth.
- Our dentist/orthodontist will recommend you use a special brush designed to get into the crevices and different surfaces in metal braces. It may take some practice to learn how to brush and floss around your braces, but it will get easier with time.
- To remove additional plaque and food particles from your mouth, you should invest in an oral irrigator (water-pik). This is a small appliance that sits on a bathroom’s countertop so that you can fill its tank with fresh water before using it. A wand-like tip will emit the water from the water irrigator’s tank with a moderate pressure that will dislodge the food, bacteria, and plaque from your gums, teeth, and braces. This device is an easy way to augment your oral hygiene rather than avoiding brushing or flossing. Depending on instructions from our orthodontist, you might only use an oral irrigator once a week for extra cleansing.
- Keep your follow-up appointments. Seeing our dentist/orthodontist regularly allows for any adjustments to the braces to be made and gives you an opportunity to have any questions or concerns addressed.
You will be wearing your braces for a fairly lengthy period, so it is important to follow your orthodontist’s instructions and care for them properly. While braces may seem like an inconvenience, once the treatment is over, your new smile will be all the reward you need.