Braces are quite common these days – you can see teenagers and adults using them. Braces are used if one has crooked teeth. It is also used in cases of having underbite or overbite (misaligned teeth) – this is the condition where lower jaw and teeth protrude beyond the upper jaw and overbite is the situation where upper jaw and teeth cover the lower jaw. Braces are also used in cases where one needs to straighten teeth.
This is a special branch of dentistry called orthodontics where these type of specialised skills and services are rendered to people. Dentists are also known to offer services in cases of basic alignment problems. All the services are planned after conducting a comprehensive dental examination.
Braces apply pressure to the teeth over a period of time and the teeth move to the required position. There are different types of braces used depending on the severity of the condition and also the type suited best for the person’s needs. The common type of braces that are seen are bands, metal braces, wires etc. As one is progressing through the treatment, the bands or wires are tightened to get the teeth into the desired position.
Abnormal bites become noticeable between 6 to 12 years of age, and the treatment is usually done when the child is growing, this helps to obtain ideal results from the treatment. There isn’t any fixed time for wearing the braces – it depends on the person’s severity of the problem. When there are too many teeth and when they are pushed into the required position, some ‘extra’ teeth would need to be pulled out to make space for the aligned teeth.
Braces for all ages
Long back it was assumed that braces are only for teenagers as they would be needing them for correcting crooked teeth and getting a beautiful smile. But that is not true, braces can be used by youngsters as well as adults. These days the number of adults who are opting for this type of dental treatment is increasing.
The ideal time to wear braces is when a child is growing – when jaw, head etc. are still growing – correcting them at this time becomes easier. But that does not mean, one will not get good results if they opt for braces when they are adults. People are now becoming aware that they can obtain good benefits from wearing braces and are hence opting to go for this treatment. Minor issues to major problems like correcting overbite/underbite can be set-right by wearing braces.
Braces are painful
One of the first thoughts you would get is are they painful? Well, they are not that painful. Putting on braces will take about an hour or two. They are put in place after your teeth are cleaned. Glue is used to hold the brackets. Then the dentist will secure the brackets with the elastic bands. Though the process sounds complex, you would not feel any pain.
Discomfort, soreness might be felt after the process, because you are pushing the teeth from their former position. It’s the discomfort that will be more pronounced as you are getting used to the new braces. If you do feel pain, then there are over the counter pain killers that will help you to ease the pain. A certain wax is also available which when applied will help to keep the braces from rubbing insides of your mouth. Some who have experienced discomfort mention that rinsing with salt water offers relief.
Eating and drinking while wearing braces
Putting on braces will be a bit of an inconvenience, as you would need to alter your eating habits a bit. Some of the food particles might dislodge the braces, so care needs to be taken on what one is eating and drinking. Right after you have worn braces and you might still be feeling sore – starting off with soups, milkshakes etc. will be good. These won’t move the braces and are hence safe to start with.
Once you are comfortable with the braces, you can continue with your earlier food habits. Dentists will recommend on cutting back on sugary food and drinks, food like cookies, nuts etc. as these change the position of the braces. Chocolate and other sugary food can get stuck in the braces and cause damage to it, while nuts can bend or change the alignment of the braces when you bite into them. You can check with your dentist on which food is safe to consume while wearing braces.
Proper care and attention need to be devoted to cleaning braces. Maintaining a good oral hygiene is important especially when wearing braces. Brushing at least three times a day is needed – this is to remove food debris that can get stuck in braces. You can remove elastics or any other removable parts of the braces and then clean- but check with your dentist before doing it.
Take care to clean your teeth individually if possible, this will help to clean your teeth thoroughly and also your braces and wires. Flossing is also encouraged and so is rinsing of mouth. Improper care of braces or lack of oral hygiene can lead to plaque building up and resulting tooth decay. There are a variety of cleaning tools available that will help when you do not have enough time to clean. Children should be taught how to clean braces. During the first few day’s parents can show them how to clean them carefully.
Need for retainers after braces
Wearing retainers also form a very important part of teeth alignment using braces. Treatment does not finish when braces are removed, that is when retainers come in. A Retainer is a custom made appliance that helps to keep the teeth in position after braces are removed.
There are different types of retainers, the type of retainer that you use depends on your treatment plan. Some are fixed retainers while some can be removed. Proper care is necessary while using retainers, regular and good care should be maintained for good oral hygiene. Retainers can be cleaned by immersing them in dental cleansers.