What are braces and how do they straighten your teeth?

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Straight teeth can do more than just illuminate your smile, it can also help you protect your overall health. Straight teeth make it easier for you to properly clean them and can help you chew and speak efficiently. But many of us may not have naturally straight teeth. Not to worry, orthodontics, a specialty of dentistry, focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of misaligned teeth and jaws. There is a wide array of orthodontic treatments, the most known being braces. Orthodontic appliances like braces are intended to slowly move teeth to their ideal positions within the mouth. In addition, some orthodontic appliances can even train your jaw muscles, help you break poor oral habits like thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting, widen your jaws, and guide your jaws throughout your growth to the best positions.

Orthodontic treatment can be performed by your dentist, or a specialist known as an orthodontist, depending on the level of severity of your case. After a thorough clinical examination, your dental professional will determine If you are a candidate for orthodontic treatment and guide you to the best approach to improve your smile. Individuals are typically recommended for orthodontic treatment to resolve tooth spacing or crowding, deep overbites, open bites, underbites, and/or crossbites.

If you have been recommended for braces, you’re in luck! Braces can be a great treatment option for both children and adults. Braces are made up of individual brackets that are attached to the front surfaces of teeth using a temporary cement. In some cases, braces can even be placed on the back surfaces of your teeth. Traditional brackets are metal, but tooth-colored ceramic brackets also exist as an alternative. Within each bracket is a slot opening that allows wires to be placed within. The wires used are made of different materials, such as stainless steel, nickel titanium, and copper titanium. The wires are then secured in place using metal or elastic ties. You may be familiar with the wide arrange of colors that the elastic ties come in, which you can pick at each appointment to match your style. Approximately each month you will need to come in for regular adjustment appointments, in which the wires are tightened allowing a constant gentle pressure that moves your teeth slowly to their designated positions. Braces are commonly worn for between one to three years, but the time required depends on a variety of factors specific to each person. Once your orthodontic treatment is complete, you will be given a retainer to wear to prevent your teeth from moving into their original positions.

Clear aligners have become a popular alternative to traditional braces. They are virtually transparent removable plastic trays that are designed to move teeth similarly to braces. Often, tooth-colored attachments and buttons are temporarily bonded to the teeth in which the aligner grabs hold to allowing it to push the teeth to their targeted positions.

Wondering if braces are painful? Don’t worry, in today’s age, braces are comfortable and easy to get used to. You may experience slight discomfort following an adjustment, however, this sensation tends to disappear after a day or two.

Braces require a lot of up-keep, which is why it is important to have your oral hygiene routine on point before getting braces. Maintaining good oral hygiene is key to avoiding tooth discoloration and decay, gum disease, and other oral issues which can be easier to obtain with braces. Certain foods tend to become easily trapped between the braces and around the gumline, which is why you will need to brush and floss after meals and avoid sticky and sugary foods and beverages. Your dental professional will instruct you on how to use a special floss that allows you to go around the wires to remove food particles stuck in-between your teeth. Plus, since the cement holding your braces to your teeth is not permanent, the brackets can be dislodged by hard foods. It is necessary to avoid consuming hard foods such as candy and popcorn to avoid breaking brackets and prolonging your treatment.

Having braces requires you to be diligent in following the instructions of your dental professionals and making all your scheduled appointments. In addition to your orthodontic appointments, it will still be crucial to maintain your regular dental check-ups and cleanings to keep your smile healthy.