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What are braces?

Braces can straighten teeth and correct a variety of orthodontic problems, such as:

  • The teeth are crooked.
  • Crowded teeth.
  • There are gaps in the teeth.
  • Malocclusion.

Many children and teenagers wear braces, but adult braces are also common. In fact, approximately 20% of orthodontic patients in the United States are over the age of 18.

In most cases, an orthodontist will place braces. But some general dentists also offer this service.

How do braces work?

Braces use gentle, constant pressure to move teeth into the correct position over time. The exact way this happens depends on the type of braces you choose.

What types of braces are there?

There are several different types of braces. The type that's best for you depends on several factors, including the type of problem you have, the severity of your condition, and your personal preferences.

metal braces

When you think of braces, you probably think of traditional metal braces. Metal braces use stainless steel bands, brackets and wires to gently move teeth over time.

The dentist or orthodontist will bond a bracket to each tooth and then place a thin, flexible archwire over the brackets. Tiny elastic bands called ligatures hold the wire securely in place.

Metal braces are visible when you smile. You can choose clear or tooth-colored ligatures to make your braces less noticeable. Or, if you're feeling festive, choose brightly colored ligatures.

ceramic braces

Ceramic braces work on the same principle as metal braces. The main difference is that the brackets, wires, and ligatures are all tooth-colored so they blend in with your smile. Ceramic braces are still visible, but less noticeable. One disadvantage of ceramic braces is that they are more fragile than metal braces and therefore more likely to break.

Tongue side braces

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces. But they are located on the back surface of the tooth rather than the front surface. Most people who choose lingual braces do so because they don’t want others to know they have braces.

Self-ligating braces

Self-ligating braces look similar to traditional metal braces. The main difference is that instead of using ligatures, self-ligating braces use a built-in system to hold the archwires in place.

clear aligners

Clear aligners, sometimes called “invisible braces,” are an alternative to braces. Instead of brackets and wires, clear aligners use a series of customized trays to straighten teeth over time.

With these systems, you can wear each set of aligner trays for about two weeks. You then swap these pallets for the next set in the series. Unlike metal braces, clear aligners are removable. But it should be worn for at least 22 hours a day. You should only wear your aligners when going out to eat, drink, and brush your teeth.

What is the best age to wear braces?

You're never too old for orthodontics. That said, the best time to get braces is usually between the ages of 9 and 14. At this time, your jaw and facial bones are more malleable because they are still developing. Adult braces are just as effective but may take longer to achieve the desired results.

Program details

How long does it take for braces to work?

The answer to this question is different for everyone. On average, braces treatment takes approximately two years to complete. But this depends on the severity of the dislocation. Some people complete treatment within 12 months. Others may take up to three years.

Risk/Benefit

What are the benefits of wearing braces?

The most obvious advantage of wearing braces is that your smile will be straighter and more beautiful. But the curly braces are OK:

  • Makes your teeth easier to clean.
  • Helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Corrects temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disease.
  • Restore normal functions such as chewing and speaking.

Simply put, braces can improve your health, function, and smile.

What are the common side effects of braces?

There are some minor, expected side effects of braces, including:

  • Temporary discomfort (usually occurs on the first day and while the dentist tightens the braces).
  • Irritation of the tongue, lips, or inner cheeks.
  • Pain in the jaw.
  • Difficulty eating (especially after tightening).

You can control most side effects with over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. You can also buy dental wax for braces at your local pharmacy to help relieve irritation in your mouth. Just put some wax on any brackets or wires that feel rough.

Recovery and Outlook

Will wearing braces hurt?

You may experience discomfort for a few days after getting braces. Some people also experience pain after routine tightening surgery. But generally speaking, your braces won't hurt.

To relieve discomfort after your orthodontic appointment, you can take acetaminophen. It's best to avoid ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Research shows that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs block prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that aid in healing. Therefore, NSAIDs can actually interrupt the tooth movement process.

How should I care for my braces?

Proper oral hygiene is even more important when you wear braces. Plaque and tartar can build up around the brackets and wires, causing tooth decay and gingivitis.

Your dentist or orthodontist will give you a detailed list of instructions for caring for your braces. But here are some general guidelines:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth and around your braces once a day.
  • If you have clear aligners, clean them daily and store them properly when not wearing them.
  • Rinse your mouth twice daily with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Avoid hard, crunchy or sticky foods.
  • Visit your orthodontist regularly for tightening and maintenance.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and daily dental care.

What can I eat while wearing braces?

After getting braces, you will need to stick to a soft diet for a few days. Good options include:

  • pasta.
  • Cooked vegetables.
  • Mashed potatoes.
  • Scrambled eggs.
  • yogurt.
  • Soup.
  • Soft fruit.
  • oatmeal.

Once the discomfort subsides, you can start adding other foods to your diet.

There are certain hard and sticky foods that you should avoid while wearing braces. These include nuts, caramels, and crunchy fruits and vegetables.

How to maintain the results after wearing braces?

Anyone who wears braces will need to wear a dental retainer after completing treatment. Retainers prevent your teeth from moving back into their original positions.

There are many types of retainers. Your dentist or orthodontist will assist you in choosing the right dentist or orthodontist for you.

When to call the doctor

When should I call my dentist or orthodontist?

Call your healthcare provider if you:

  • Pain that medicine cannot take away.
  • Damaged wire or bracket.
  • Injury to the mouth or face.
  • Bleeding or infected gums.

Can I buy dental floss specifically for braces?

Yes, there are many products on the market that make flossing easier with braces, including:

  • Dental floss threader.
  • Dental pick.
  • Orthodontic flosser.
  • Brush between neighbors.
  • Water flosser.

Ask your dentist or orthodontist for product recommendations.

Can I chew gum if I have braces?

Yes, you can chew sugarless gum. Be sure to buy brands with the ADA seal of approval.

Comment

Dental braces not only enhance your smile, they also improve oral health and function. Today, there are many orthodontic options available. Your dentist or orthodontist can help determine which one is best for you. Braces are an investment that will give you a healthy, beautiful smile for years to come.

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