What are braces?
Braces are fixed or removable orthodontic appliances used to correct alignment of teeth and bite. They are fitted on the upper, lower or both sets of teeth depending upon the correction required. They may be used in conjunction with other orthodontic appliances that help to:
- widen the palate or jaws.
- create spaces between teeth.
- shape the teeth and jaws.
Braces apply continuous pressure to move teeth in a specific direction to bring about the right alignment and bite. The treatment period lasts from as little as 6 weeks to three years, depending on the level of movement required and the type of brace that is used.
What is the ideal age for treatment with braces?
Although people of any age can make use of the treatment, the ideal age would be between 7 and 14 years.
What is the procedure for placing dental braces?Initial consultation
- X-rays, moulds, and impressions of the teeth are taken to determine the problem and proper course of action.
- An etchant is applied to the teeth to be braced to help the cement stick to the tooth surface.
- A bracket is applied onto a tooth using dental grade cement.
- The cement is then cured with a light until it is hardened completely.
- An archwire is threaded between the brackets and attached with colored elastic or metal bands to help close open bites, shift the midline, or pull teeth or jaws strongly in the desired direction.
Adjusting the braces
- The braces are adjusted at regular intervals to help shift the teeth into the correct position.
- After they are adjusted, the colored rubber bands are removed.
- The arch wire is then taken out, and replaced or modified, and placed back into the mouth.
- New rubber bands are then fixed to the metal brackets.
- Retainers are worn once the braces are removed to prevent the relapse of the teeth, as bone and gums need additional time to stabilize around the teeth.
- The time period for wearing the retainers will depend upon the individual patient condition.
- They can be moved in and out of the mouth as required.
What can you expect after the dental braces are fitted?
- You may feel uncomfortable for the first few days.
- The teeth may feel sore.
- The wires, brackets and bands may irritate the tongue, cheeks or lips.
- Any such discomfort will disappear within a week or two.
- You may experience moderate pain each time the wires are changed or adjusted. You may be prescribed painkillers to alleviate any such discomfort.
What are the different types of braces available?
There are many different kinds of braces available depending on your needs:
- Metal or plastic braces - with brackets that are bonded to teeth:
- Stainless metal braces - for those who are not allergic to metal. They are popular for their ruggedness and economy.
- Ceramic braces - made of a high-tech glass-like composite material and are quite expensive. They are quite strong and resistant to most stains, excluding those caused by foods, coffee, Coke, curry, smoking, etc.
- Sapphire Inspire! brand braces - made of pure monocrystalline sapphire. They are very translucent, strong and resistant to most stains, excluding those caused by foods, coffee, Coke, curry, smoking, etc. They too blend in with the teeth and are not noticeable, especially if you have white teeth. They are quite expensive compared to other braces.
- Traditional silver braces - the most common and most popular style of braces, with brackets that are top in design and functionality, resulting in the most efficient and precise movement of the teeth. They can also be decorated using color combinations and patterns as preferred by the user or using computer-generated templates.
- Gold Braces - gold-plated braces that also come with gold archwires. They are mostly chosen for their aesthetic appeal.
Risks and limitations of orthodontic care
- Allergic reactions to the metal or latex.
- Increased risk in people with periodontal problems, such as people with type 1 diabetes, who are predisposed toward the breakdown of gum and supporting tissue, affecting the long-term integrity of affected teeth.
How should I clean and look after my braces?
Oral hygiene whilst wearing braces is very important, as food particles debris can easily get trapped behind brackets and wires and there is more chance of build-up occurring. There are special cleaning brushes and tools to enable you to maintain a clean mouth whilst undergoing treatments with braces. Read our page on cleaning and looking after my braces for further information.