Braces (Orthodontic Braces)
Dental braces are easily the most common form of orthodontic or cosmetic dentistry. Commonly carried out soon after the adult teeth have all come through, braces are therefore most associated with tweens and teens. However, some adults undergo orthodontic treatment to correct minor problems.
There may be medical reasons for using dental braces, such as overcrowded teeth that could otherwise lead to negative health consequences. However, most people endure dental braces for the cosmetic appearance of perfectly straightened teeth.
Different Types of Braces
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Why are braces necessary?
Although most people would see straightening the teeth as a cosmetic treatment, orthodontic treatment can greatly improve oral health.
- Teeth function better
- Anomalies that may increase the risk of decay or infection are reduced
- Less pressure is placed upon the gum, jaw and surrounding teeth.
Therefore, a dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment for a variety of reasons.
- Difficulty chewing, eating or speaking
- The upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth (over bite)
- The upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when brought together (deep bite)
- The upper front teeth sit behind or inside the lower front teeth (under bite)
- The upper and lower front teeth don’t touch when biting together (open bite)
- The adult teeth may have come through too crowded or overlapping
- The centre of the upper and lower teeth don’t align
- The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting
- There are unwanted spaces between the teeth
Before recommending dental braces, the dentist will conduct a thorough orthodontic assessment, possibly including x-rays. This is so the dentist can establish whether any extractions may be necessary prior to fitting the braces, so the teeth align correctly.
Depending on how severe the problem is, the treatment can take up to two and a half years to complete. Every six to eight weeks, the orthodontist will review progress and ensure the movement is happening as predicted.
What are the different kinds of Braces?
When thinking about dental braces, most of us imagine the standard metal wires and brackets.
The wire is shaped into the ideal position and is then threaded between the brackets which are glued to the front of the teeth. Over time, the wire will return to the original, ideal position, moving the teeth with it.
Favoured by adults trying to reduce the unsightly appearance of braces, ceramic brackets more closely match the colour of the teeth. Made from composite materials, they don’t stain and are just as strong as metal braces.
These less visible brackets can be complimented by white metal ties or clear plastic ties to further create the impression of “clear” or less visible braces.
The downside is that ceramic braces can be more brittle than standard metal braces, which may make the eventual removal more difficult.
It is possible to completely hide the braces, by fitting the brackets on the inside surface of the teeth — Lingual Braces. Quite apart from the obvious cosmetic appeal of invisible braces, some people find lingual braces more comfortable, as the brackets and wire can’t rub against the lips or the inside of the mouth.
However, lingual braces may not be appropriate for every treatment, such as ‘deep bite’. Your dentist will advise whether lingual braces are a suitable option in your treatment.
Although not strictly braces, Invisalign® avoids using wires and brackets in favour of clear aligners that have been custom made to fit exactly over the teeth.
Virtually undetectable, the aligners move your teeth millimetre by millimetre until they achieve the correct position. Unlike normal braces, these aligners are removable; making eating, brushing and flossing far easier.
Eating with Dental Braces
Understandably, having braces on your teeth can make eating a riskier proposition. After the first few days, you should be able to eat relatively normally.
But it is still possible to damage your braces if you eat the wrong foods or even chew carelessly. While wearing dental braces, it’s advisable to avoid the following foods:
- Sticky foods such as caramel, toffees and especially bubble gum
- Nuts, including peanuts, almonds and cashews
- Crunchy foods like popcorn or potato chips
- Extra chewy foods such as bagels
Any food that could get caught or stick to your braces should be avoided. Where possible, cutting other foods into bite sized chunks will help protect your braces by reducing the amount of chewing required before swallowing.
Brushing with Dental Braces
When wearing braces, it becomes even more important to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth immediately after eating to remove any particles trapped in your braces.
It will take a little longer to brush your teeth correctly as you have to ensure all areas in between and around the braces are free of plaque and food particles. If plaque is left to gather around the teeth and gum line, the gums can become infected or diseased.
Make gentle, circular motions with your brush above and below the braces. Each tooth should be brushed gently but thoroughly for approximately ten seconds.
If you have trouble cleaning in and around the various wires, you can buy an inter-proximal brush from your local pharmacy, designed to get into all of those tiny places.
Soreness and Irritation from Dental Braces
Your teeth may feel sore and sensitive for a few days after first getting your dental braces fitted. Also, as your braces will rub the inside of your cheeks and lips, these can become irritated.
After a while, your mouth should become accustomed to the new braces. However, you can reduce the irritation by rinsing your mouth with warm salty water.
Dental Braces Costs
The cost of dental braces will differ depending on the type you get. For example, metal braces may cost less than Invisalign (this can vary), however Invisalign is clear and more discrete. The cost can also vary depending on whether you use an orthodontist (specialist) compared to a general dentist.
The cost of dental braces will also differ according to the area you get it done in and potentially the expertise of the dental practice.
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Dental Payment Plans
If you’re looking for payment options to make Dental Braces more affordable, a dental payment plan can help. Ask your dentist or orthodontist about the options for paying off the treatment.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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