When you think of braces, you probably picture a middle school-aged child or teenager with metal braces and colored bands. With advancements in braces, however, not only are more and more adults getting them and achieving the smile they’ve always wanted, but there are a variety of options to fit every lifestyle and budget. We’ve put together a list of some of our most frequently asked questions about braces to help you better understand the advantages and the process of getting braces for you or your child.
1. What are the Advantages of Getting Braces?
Your smile is one of the first things that people notice about you. Not only will braces help align any crowded or crooked teeth, but braces can help correct problems with your bite. Many people have an “overbite” or “underbite” that can cause future oral problems. Braces can help improve your self-esteem, give you a boost of confidence and improve your oral health.
2. What Different Types of Braces are Available?
Traditional braces, in the form of metal brackets and bands, are still widely used today in orthodontics. Modern metal braces have smaller brackets that make them less noticeable and more comfortable as well as heat-activated wiring that uses natural body heat to move teeth faster.
Ceramic braces have brackets that are the same size as metal braces but are made of a clear or tooth-colored material to help them better blend into teeth, making them less noticeable.
Lingual braces look like traditional metal braces but are placed on the inside of the teeth, making them unnoticeable from the outside of the mouth. Lingual braces aren’t recommended for teeth that are very crooked or crowded, however, so they aren’t an option for all of our patients.
3. How Do Braces Straighten Teeth?
A thin, metal wire, known as an archwire, runs from bracket to bracket on each tooth. This wire puts constant pressure on the teeth, gradually moving them into place. Small bands, called ligature elastics, may also be placed on the brackets to help exert more force or push the teeth into a certain direction.
People who have a severe overbite or underbite may need to wear headgear. Headgear holds part of the jaw in place, stopping the growth of part of the jaw while the part of the jaw has a chance to catch up on growth, helping to correct the bite. Headgear may also be used to move upper molars in the back of the mouth.
4. How are Braces Applied?
After meeting with our orthodontic team to decide the best course of care for you or your child, we will apply your braces. The initial process takes one to two hours. The teeth will be thoroughly cleaned and dried. Next, a special bonding glue will be applied to each tooth and a bracket will be attached. The archwire will then be placed in the mouth and carefully fastened to each bracket.
Follow-up visits will occur with our orthodontic team every four to six weeks. During these visits, we will check on the progress of the teeth, replace rubber bands that may be worn out and tighten the archwire to ensure teeth are being moved in the correct direction. These follow-up appointments normally take 15 to 30 minutes each.
5. How Should I Care for My Braces?
It’s important to care for your braces with good oral hygiene. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day and flossed once a day in order to prevent discoloration of clear brackets and tooth decay. Chewy, hard, sticky and crunchy foods, such as hard candies and caramel, should be avoided in order to keep your braces in good condition.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment for your orthodontic evaluation. We are happy to sit down with you and formulate a plan to give you the straight smile you’ve always wanted.