Dental braces are designed to straighten teeth and improve bite. They consist of stainless steel wire and a series of metal brackets.
Dental braces are a tool used by dentists and orthodontists to change the alignment of teeth. This is sometimes done for purely cosmetic reasons. However, it's also necessary if the patient displays an overbite or an underbite that affects daily life. Braces can be used to close gaps between teeth. For some patients, more extensive work is required to fix the dental problems listed above. If this is the case, an orthodontist might use a range of complementary appliances to change the shape and size of the palate and jaw.
Once fitted, braces are tightened in order to apply an increasing amount of pressure on specific teeth. Movement is slow, which allows the jaw to adjust and change shape to compensate for the movement of the teeth.
Brackets are fitted to individual teeth and bonded in place with a special agent. In some cases, however, the brackets are secured with a series of dental bands. These brackets hold stainless steel wires in place. The brackets are often made of stainless steel too, but they're also available in ceramic and plastic - and in a range of different colours.
Orthodontic bands wrap around each tooth to provide an anchor for each bracket. They're often stainless steel, but they also come in clear and tooth-coloured varieties.
A spacer is a small device that fits between the teeth. This creates the small space needed for the attachment of orthodontic bands.
Stainless steel wires are attached to the brackets. These pliable wires are pulled tighter over time in order to exert pressure in the desired direction.
Small rubber rings (called ties) are used to fasten the wires to the brackets. A tube is used on the last rubber ring in each direction to hold the wire firmly in place. And small rubber bands (ligatures) keep the wire attached to each individual bracket.
You'll need to attend regular appointments to have your braces tightened. A wire gadget is used to move upper molars in the desired direction. Elastic bands are attached to the brackets via hooks, and they can be fitted to exert the desired amount of pressure on each tooth.
A more recent innovation is the "mini-brace." This is a lot smaller than the standard version. It uses plastic retainers to gradually move teeth into the desired position. The fitting process is a lot simpler, and the patient generally experiences a lot less discomfort and irritation.
Damon braces are proving increasingly popular among orthodontists. They exert less pressure and require fewer dental appointments. They tighten automatically, using a sliding mechanism instead of bands. This means you don't have to have them continually adjusted by a dentist or orthodontist.
A removable aligner is a clear device that looks a little like a mouthguard. Custom-made with a high degree of precision, this device can be removed for eating and cleaning. However, you must visit the dentist every two or three weeks to have a new aligner measured and fitted.
If a child has a serious overbite, standard braces or aligners may not be sufficient. A Forsus appliance is a spring-loaded device that's held in place within the cheeks. It is connected to braces in order to gradually adjust the position of the jaws.
Palatial expanders are used for upper jaw realignment in young patients. They consist of a plate that's moulded to the roof of the mouth and a series of wires that are attached to the upper molars. Pressure is applied in order to move the molars further apart. The device is usually tightened with a small key.
Expect your fitting to last up to two hours - although it will probably take around half that time. The orthodontist will start by cleaning and drying your teeth. An adhesive gel will then be applied, which is used to attach the brackets to the teeth. The rest of the components will then be attached in turn. The process can be painful, but not excessively so. You might feel some sensitivity and discomfort. Just be sure to tell your orthodontist about any significant pain or discomfort you experience. Particularly during the first few weeks, you might feel a lot of pain and discomfort. You'll probably be advised to treat this pain with over-the-counter medications.
Expect to wear your dental braces for between six months and two years. After they're removed, your teeth will be examined. It might be necessary to perform an X-ray to ensure all your teeth are straight and in position. And to ensure your teeth don't gradually slip back into their original position, you'll be given a retainer. You can take it out at night and when you eat, but you should keep it in place as much as possible.