|What is "orthodontics,"
and why do people get braces?
Orthodontics is a special discipline of dentistry concerned with aligning
the teeth and jaws to improve one's smile and oral health. "Ortho"
means correct or straight and "Odont" means tooth. A dentist
usually recommends braces to improve the patient's physical "orofacial"
appearance. Through orthodontic treatment, problems like crooked
or crowded teeth, overbites or underbites, incorrect jaw position and
disorders of the jaw joints are corrected.
When is the right time for braces?
Patients with orthodontic problems can benefit from treatment at nearly
any age. An ideal time for placement of braces is between 10 and
14 years of age, while the head and mouth are still growing and teeth
are more accessible to straightening. However, because any adjustments
in facial appearance can be traumatic to a child during these sensitive
years, parents should discuss the matter with their children before
braces are applied. And braces aren't just for kids. More
and more adults are also wearing braces to correct minor problems and
to improve their smiles.
What kind of braces will I have to wear?
Your dentist will know what appliance is best for your particular
problem, but the patient often has a choice. Braces generally
come in three varieties: The most popular type are brackets, metal
or plastic, that are bonded to teeth and are far less noticeable.
The "lingual" type of braces are brackets that attach to the
back of teeth, hidden from view. Bands are the traditional type
that cover most of your teeth with metal bands that wrap around the
teeth. All use wires to move the teeth to the desired position.
How long will I have to wear braces?
That depends upon your treatment plan. The more complicated
your spacing or bite problem is, and the older you are, the longer the
period of treatment, usually. Most patients can count on wearing
full braces between 18 and 30 months, followed by the wearing of a retainer
for at least a few months to up to two years to set and align tissues
surrounding straightened teeth. Some patients may have to wear
a permanent retainer.
The interconnecting wires are tightened at each visit, bearing mild
pressure on the brackets or bands to shift teeth or jaws, gradually into
a desired position. Your teeth and jaws may feel slightly sore after
each visit, but the discomfort is brief. Keep in mind also that
some teeth may need to be extracted to make room for teeth being shifted
with braces and for proper jaw alignment.
Do I have to avoid any foods or personal habits?
Yes. Cut down on sweets, chips and soda. Sugary and
starchy foods generate acid and plaque that can cause tooth decay and
promote gum disease. Cut healthy, hard foods like carrots or apples
into smaller pieces. Sticky, chewy sweets like caramel can cause
wire damage and loosen brackets. Avoid hard and crunchy snacks
that can break braces, including popcorn, nuts and hard candy.
More dont's: ice cube chewing, thumb sucking, excessive mouth
breathing, lip biting and pushing your tongue against your teeth.
What about home care of my teeth with braces?
With braces, oral hygiene is more important than ever. Braces
have tiny spaces were food particles and plaque get trapped. Brush
carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled
toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and check your teeth in the mirror
to make sure they're clean. Take time to floss between braces
and under wires with the help of a floss threader. Have your teeth
cleaned every six months to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
Insufficient cleaning while wearing braces can cause enamel staining
around brackets or bands.
Who will provide my orthodontic treatment?
family general dentist is responsible for coordinating your dental treatment,
and this could encompass any orthodontic treatment plan, including diagnosis,
examinations and some orthodontic procedures. Your dentist may,
however, refer you to an "orthodontist"a specialist
trained in the development, prevention and correction of irregularities
of the teeth, bite and jaws and related facial abnormalities.