What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that is concerned with the correction and straightening of teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Problems such as crooked or crowded teeth, overbites, underbites, and incorrect jaw and teeth position are corrected through orthodontics. The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to create straighter teeth in order to create a healthier bite. There are a variety of treatments that will help straighten your teeth, which include braces and retainers. If braces or aligner trays are required for you, then you will be prescribed an appliance that is specific to your needs.
What are Braces?
Braces are a specialized wire-based appliance used to correct overcrowding and to help straighten your teeth. Braces are a series of metal brackets that are attached to the front of your teeth and are connected to each other using a metal wire.
Braces align your teeth by adding continuous pressure over a given period, slowly moving the teeth and changing the shape of the bone. Each time we adjust the wire, the teeth are being pulled and guided in a certain direction, allowing the teeth to gradually fall into their proper place.
Many people who need dental braces receive them during their early teenage years, but adults can also benefit from wearing braces. Usually, braces are utilized during the childhood years because the mouth is still growing and the teeth are still forming, which allows for easier and more streamlined teeth straightening. No matter your age, we are here to help with all of your malocclusion needs. (malocclusion is the imperfect positioning of the teeth when the jaws are closed)
Braces will help treat malocclusions and give you a healthier, straighter smile. If left untreated, these malocclusion problems can cause further issues such as tooth decay, gum and bone issues, or speaking and chewing problems. Patients of any age can benefit from a straighter, healthier smile.
What are the signs that you may need braces?
Every patient we see here at Smile Dental has their own individual needs. No two patients are the same, resulting in individual treatment plans for each patient. Although our patients have individual treatment plans, the cause for needing braces is common. Some of the most common reasons that braces are needed include:
- Teeth are crooked and need to be straightened
- Overcrowding of teeth
- Severe overbite (the upper jaw extends too far over the lower jaw)
- Severe underbite (the lower jaw extends too far over the upper jaw)
- Crossbite (the upper teeth sit inside of the bottom teeth)
- Too much space in between teeth (gaps between teeth)
- Adult teeth that have come in too late
- Incorrect jaw position
- Having a difficult time chewing food
What to expect when receiving braces treatment
The process of braces treatment is slow and cautious, and occurs in phases. Each phase is different, and your specific needs will determine how long you will have to wear braces. Depending on your specific circumstance, braces may be needed for anywhere from a few weeks to many months to longer than a year. Treatment of braces is usually done in three phases which consists of the initial placement of the braces, frequent adjustments and tightening of the wires, and then finally, the use of a retainer after the braces have been removed.
The placement of braces
The first phase of receiving braces takes the longest time. The initial braces appointment involves preparing the surface of the teeth in order to place the brackets correctly on the teeth. We will clean and completely dry the surface of your teeth to allow the metal to properly adhere to the tooth. Once the tooth is completely cleaned and dried, a metal bracket will then be fixed to the tooth with a special bonding agent. The bracket will hold the arch wire in place and help to align your teeth. Brackets must be placed on most, if not all your teeth, and the arch wire will connect to each bracket. To secure the wire in place, a small band will be placed over the wire. The bands come in many different colors, and our patients can choose which color and even change colors each visit, if they wish.
There is careful attention to detail in the initial bracket placement appointment, and it can take up to two hours. During this procedure, there should be no pain, and we will do our best to make you as comfortable as possible. You may experience slight discomfort for the first few days after placement, as your teeth get used to the wires. If you feel discomfort, an over-the-counter medication can be used to relieve the discomfort. However, if your discomfort strengthens over time, it is important to give us a call.
Maintaining your braces
It is important that you brush your teeth, floss regularly, and thoroughly clean around the brackets, as it is easy for food and other bacteria to get trapped around them. Maintaining extra care of your teeth while having braces will prevent decay from occurring. Avoiding sticky or hard food is also recommended. This will prevent the brackets from becoming loose or detaching completely. During the second phase, our dentists will set up a schedule with you to return to our office for regular checkups and adjustments. These visits are extremely important so that the wires may be adjusted properly, and so that your teeth can continue to shift into their correct position. We like to see our patients regularly, so we try to make appointments every 4-6 weeks. At each visit, the wires will be replaced and tightened, allowing your teeth to continually shift into place gradually. This is also an opportunity for us to change the bands (to whatever color you choose), and to address any concerns that you may have.
Removing your braces
The final stage of braces is very exciting and requires removing the brackets and wires and replacing them with a removable retainer or aligner. Unlike the first phase, having your braces taken off is a very exciting and a highly anticipated moment. The process itself is quick, simple, and painless. Our dentists will start by removing the wire and brackets from the teeth with specialized orthodontic pliers. Gently squeezing the base of the bracket will allow the adhesive to be released, and the brackets and wires to be removed. Once the brackets and wires have been removed, the surface of the teeth will be cleaned, polished, and smoothed.
After the removal of the braces, you will be fitted for a retainer. The retainer will be specifically created for you based on dental impressions we will take beforehand. The retainer will be removable and you will be asked to wear it for a certain number of hours per day/night in order to keep your teeth straight permanently. Follow-up appointments will be made, and you will be free to enjoy your newly straightened smile. It is important to maintain proper oral hygiene and regular checkups after completion of orthodontic treatment.
If you think that you may need braces, or would like more information regarding braces, please give our office a call, and one of our helpful assistants will schedule you some time to see one of our Smile Dental dentists and discuss what your recommended options are.