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 and wires 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 into a certain direction, allowing the teeth to gradually fall into their proper place.
Many people who need dental braces get them during their early teenage years, but adults can also benefit from wearing braces. Usually braces are placed in the earlier years because the mouth is still growing and the teeth are still forming, which allows for easier and more accessible straightening. No matter what your age is, we are here to help with all your malocclusion needs.
Having braces will help treat malocclusions (bad bites) 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 always 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, and no two patients are the same, resulting in individual treatment plans. 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 the bottom teeth)
- Too much space in between teeth
- Adult teeth came in too late
- Incorrect jaw position
- Having a difficult time chewing food
What to expect when getting braces.
The process of getting braces is a slow process that occurs in different phases. Each phase is different, and your specific needs will determine how long you will have to wear the braces. Depending on your specific circumstance, braces can be needed for a few weeks, to many months. 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 the use of a retainer after the braces are removed.
The placement of braces.
The first phase of getting braces placed takes the longest. The initial appointment involves preparing the surface of the teeth in order to place the brackets correctly in place. 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. This bracket is what will hold the arch wire in place and help to align your teeth. A bracket will 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 band comes in many different colors which our patients can choose from and change at each visit.
There is a lot of detail in this first phase, and it can take up to two hours. During this time however, 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, and floss regularly, and really 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 coming loose or coming off completely.
During this second phase, our dentists will set up a set schedule with you to come back for checkups and adjustments. These visits are extremely important so that the wires may be adjusted properly, and 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 our opportunity to change the bands (to whatever color you choose), and to address any concerns you may be having, if any.
Getting your braces off.
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 release, 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. This retainer will be specifically created for you based on impressions that have been taken. The retainer will be removable and asked to be worn a certain number of hours a day to keep your teeth straight. Follow up appointments will then be made, and you can now enjoy your new smile. It is important to maintain proper oral hygiene and regular checkups.
If you need to have braces or would like more information regarding braces, give our office a call and one of our helpful assistants will be happy to assist you.