Different types of dental braces

Though many people still picture a “mouthful of metal” when they think of braces, there are now many more options available.

Dental braces work by applying pressure to the teeth so that they move gradually into a new position.

The pressure usually comes from a metal wire attached to tiny brackets placed on each tooth.

These brackets are what used to create the “metal mouth”.

However modern brackets are much smaller and are glued on the front of each tooth.

Added pressure is applied to the teeth using rubber bands called ligatures.

They can be made to look more attractive using different colors or gimmicks.

In addition to the much-improved traditional braces, there are now many more options:

– Mini Braces: Smaller than traditional braces

– Clear Braces: Porcelain braces with tooth-colored brackets

– Lingual Braces: Placed behind the teeth to be less noticeable

– Removable Braces: Similar to mouthguards and made of clear plastic

Whichever types of braces you choose, they all work in the same way and help you have straighter teeth which leads to better dental health and a great smile.

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How braces look good

Braces are orthodontic appliances that can help straighten out crooked and crowded teeth.

As well as making you look better, they can help improve your dental health.

Many people have been put off wearing them because of how they look but modern braces can be very inconspicuous.

One way of making them inconspicuous is by having the brackets – the part that attaches to each tooth – fixed to the back of the tooth.

The brackets can be also be made in many different materials such as metal, ceramic or plastic so they can be more attractive or less visible.

They can also be designed to appear less noticeable – say be being clear or tooth-colored.

You can also choose to have them in virtually any color. You can even have them gold-plated or glowing in the dark.

Some people like to have their braces shaped in as something distinctive such as a heart or a football.

What an orthodontist can do for you

Orthodontic treatment is about straightening out crooked and crowded teeth and may use special appliances such as braces.

While most dentists can deal with minor orthodontic problems, they will often refer patients to an orthodontist for more specialist care.

Orthodontists are dentists with additional training and they specialize in the treatment of dental and facial irregularities.

One of the key aspects of orthodontics is straightening teeth and correcting jaw alignment.

This can be done through braces, corrective procedures and other ‘appliances’.

There are two types of braces:

– Removable: The patient can take these out of their mouth at any time

– Fixed Braces: These are worn all the time and have to be removed by a dentist

The length of time a person needs to wear braces varies depending on the condition but most people wear braces for between one and three years.

After the braces are no longer needed, the person usually need to wear a ‘retainer’ for some time that holds teeth in their new position.

Modern braces are much more comfortable than ever and usually require fewer adjustments than older apparatus.

Myths about orthodontists

Here is the truth on some common myths about orthodontists

Myth – Any dentist can straighten my teeth.
Truth – An orthodontist is a specialist at straightening teeth with two or three years of additional training after dental school.
They usually see hundreds of orthodontic patients a year where some family dentists may see only a handful.

Myth – Only children wear braces
Truth – Around 20% of orthodontic patients are adults

Myth – You only need to see an orthodontist for very complex cases.
Truth – Orthodontists have wide experience and deal with all types of orthodontic issue. However, their wide experience means they know exactly what to do in the most complex cases.

Myth – Seeing an orthodontist is more expensive than going to a general dentists for orthodontic treatment.
Truth – They are usually doing different work. An orthodontist offers value as an expert, highly experienced professional with specific training in this field.

Myth – Braces are painful and take years to work
Fact – Like a new pair of shoes, braces are perfectly comfortable after an initial ‘breaking in’ or adjustment period. Braces can get results after just a few months.

Myth – Braces are ugly and embarrassing in business settings.
Truth – Today braces can be made from clear plastic and can be nearly invisible. They can also be mounted on the back side of the teeth so that they are not visible.

How Orthodontics Makes Your Smile Better

While having a great smile can make you feel good, teeth that are out of alignment can affect the way you feel around others.

Apart from the way you feel, crooked teeth and bite problems can affect your general health as well as your dental health.

Orthodontics is the specialist branch of dentistry that helps deal with bite problems and teeth that are out of alignment.

The best known part of orthodontics is the uses of braces to straighten teeth, sort out spacing issues and resolve other dental problems as well as issues with the jaw and palate.

Dental Braces have three parts – brackets, band and arch wire.

Brackets are attached to each tooth with a band and arch wire runs between the brackets.

This applies pressure over a period of time to straighten teeth which have grown awkwardly.

While the traditional metal braces are still the most common, there is now a wide range of additional options such as ceramic braces, Invisalign braces, self-ligating braces and lingual braces.

Braces can now even be “invisible” for those who are concerned about their appearance.

Treatment with braces can last from six months to several years depending on how old you are and the specifics of the dental problem. Braces have to be adjusted regularly so that they continue working effectively.

While most orthodontic patients are children or teenagers, many adults are now seeing the benefits of orthodontic treatment.

Wearing braces when you are younger is most effective as it can improve the way you look and enhance your health for the rest of your life.

The Process of Getting Braces

Before you get braces, your dentist or orthodontist will determine if braces are suitable for you and will help solve the problems you face.

First they will conduct a visual inspection of your teeth.

If they determine that you need braces, they will set up what is known as a “records appointment”. At this appointment, X-rays, molds, and impressions are made of your mouth and teeth.

These records will be used to help determine the best action to take.

The full course of treatment may be between six months to two and a half years depending on the issues.

The fist step of fitting the braces is to apply adhesive to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth.

Normally, the teeth will then be banded and brackets added. Dental cement is used to apply the bracket and light will be used to help this harden quickly. This usually takes a few seconds per tooth.

Spacers may be used to create room for molar bands to be added later to ensure brackets will stick. These can be used when previous dental work such as fillings makes it difficult to secure a bracket to the teeth.

An archwire is then threaded between the brackets and affixed with elastic or metal ligatures. The archwires will need to be adjusted frequently to help achieve the desired outcome.

When the archwire is cold, it is normally flexible so that it can be easily threaded between the brackets. After it heats up to body temperature, the archwire attempts to retain its shape. This is what applies the light force needed to move the teeth.

Often there is a problem because there is not enough space in the mouth for all the teeth to fit properly. If this is the case, then some teeth may be removed. Alternatively, an expander may be used to enlarge the palate or arch.

Braces need to be adjusted every couple of months and this may cause a little discomfort. But most of the time with braces you will forget they are there.

What Happens After You No Longer Need Braces?

When braces have done their job and moved your teeth into the desired position, you will still need to take steps to ensure they don’t move back.

You will normally be given retainers to wear after the braces are no longer needed to ensure the teeth don’t drift to their original position.

The most popular type of retainer uses metal hooks that surround the teeth enclosed by an acrylic plate shaped to fit your palate.

If your teeth are not ready for a retainer, your orthodontist may suggest using a pre-finisher.

This is made of rubber and is similar to a mouth guard. It fixes gaps between the teeth, small spaces between the upper and lower jaw, and other minor problems that braces cannot fix.

A pre-finisher is molded to your teeth with pressure applied. You then be advised to apply pressure to it for a few seconds at a time over a set period until it completes its job.

The retainer and pre-finisher are temporary and can be moved in and out of your mouth.

Braces Are Not Only To Straighten Teeth

While many people think braces are only for straightening teeth, they actually help deal with many other problems.

Crowded Teeth: Sometimes your mouth is not big enough to hold all your teeth in the right place. Crowded teeth may become impacted and affect your bite. Crowding can be corrected by removal of teeth as well as braces.

Overbite: Upper teeth extend too far out over the lower teeth. The gap between the upper and lower teeth may lead you to injure your gums or lips. It can also cause your lips to be pushed forward meaning you are not able to close your lips completely over your teeth.

Underbite: Your lower teeth extend in front of your upper teeth. It is usually caused by having a lower jaw longer than the upper jaw.

Crossbite: Some of your upper teeth bite down inside the lower teeth but others bite down correctly. If you suffer from this, you may have problems chewing.

Open Bite: Your lower and upper incisor teeth do not touch when you bite down. This puts a lot of pressure on the back teeth when chewing and biting. If you suffer from this, you might rub your teeth together without intending to.

Space Problems: If you have teeth that are smaller than normal, or you have lost important teeth, you may have spacing problems. The teeth may spread out and, if the spaces become too large, you might have problems biting and chewing. However, the main issue with space problems is often cosmetic.

The Pros and Cons of Hidden Braces

While regular metal braces with an arch wire and elastics are still the most common, some people opt for a different approach.

One option is lingual or “hidden” braces which are fixed to the inside of the teeth.

They still use brackets and wires, but those brackets and wires cannot generally be seen by others.

Rather than having brackets bonded to the teeth and wires attached with elastic, lingual braces have brackets built for each tooth.

The brackets are fixed to each tooth with cement and then the arch wire is threaded through the brackets.

Pros of Lingual Braces

They look better than regular braces

They work as effectively as regular braces

Food caught in them is not usually visible to others

May be more stable than other options

Cons of Lingual Braces

They can take longer to get used to

The way you talk may be affected, especially at first

Caring for them is more difficult

Cleaning takes longer

They can be more expensive as they have to be custom made and installation is more complex

How Dental Retainers Work with Braces

Dental retainers are devices used to keep teeth in the desired position after braces are removed.

After braces are removed, it still takes some time for teeth to settle into the jawbone and the soft tissue.

Without appropriate action, they might drift back in to the original position.

Retainers can be fixed or removable.

Removable retainers can be taken off to eat or brush your teeth. You wear them all the time for about a year and then wear them only at night for a further period.

Fixed retainers are permanently glued to your teeth and can only be removed by your dentist.

The most common type is Hawley Retainers, which have a plastic base following the shape of your mouth.

This is connected to a wire that wraps around your teeth, keeping them in place.

Essix Retainers are made of clear plastic and some patients prefer them as they cannot be seen but they don’t last as long as Hawley retainers.

As well as keeping your teeth in position after wearing braces, retainers can also be used to correct other minor orthodontic problems that don’t require a full set of dental braces.

For example, they may be used to move just one tooth or correct a slight malocclusion.