Whether you’re a child or an adult, at some point in your life, you might need braces. Although most people don’t look forward to wearing them, they help achieve facial balance by straightening your teeth and bringing your lips and jaw into alignment. This results in a better smile — a benefit that everyone can appreciate.
Not Just for Kids
Although many people who wear braces get them as children, adults can also benefit from them. While malocclusions (which means “bad bite”) often become apparent between ages 6 and 12, it’s never too late to fix crooked teeth, overbites, or some jaw-joint disorders — all problems that can be fixed by braces. An orthodontist, a dentist who specializes in fixing dental and facial irregularities, will diagnosis the dental problems that need to be fixed and put your braces on.
Braces do more than improve your smile — they can also help with dental function. Crooked and crowded teeth can make it hard to brush and floss, and over time, this can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
The Role of Retainers
Braces are usually worn for one to three years. After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will want you to use a retainer. Some retainers are fixed — meaning they are worn all the time and can be removed only by the dentist — and some can be removed. Both types are used to keep teeth from shifting away from the position achieved by using braces.
Retainers can be just plastic or plastic with metal wire. Like braces, they come in different colors and designs.
Irregular teeth happens commonly when the growth of one jaw does not keep pace with the other. This is a problem that you might inherit from your parents. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting are other factors that could contribute to malocclusion (misaligned teeth).
When the occlusion (bite) is out of balance and/or teeth are crooked or crowded, a person becomes more susceptible to gum disease, tooth decay and chipping or fracturing teeth. Speech and phonetics may be compromised. It's not unusual for people with teeth irregularities to refrain from smiling, because they are embarrassed by the looks of their mouth.
With orthodontic treatment, crooked or crowded teeth, underbites or overbites, spaces between teeth and improper jaw position (i.e. retruded or protruded lower jaw) can be corrected. Both function and cosmetics can be restored.
Orthodontic treatment consists of removable or fixed appliances and may involve brackets, bands, wires and/or elastics to provide the necessary movement of your teeth. The ideal time for braces is for children between 10-14 years of age, while their face and mouth are still growing. However, many adults are now improving their smiles and correcting minor problems by wearing braces.
The time required for treatment depends on the complication of the problem. The average time is one to three years followed by several months of wearing a retainer to stabilize the straightened teeth. As one get older, the same treatment could take longer.
During the treatment, there will be periods of some discomfort as the wires are tightened to apply the necessary pressure, and extra special care must be taken in oral hygiene to prevent demineralization or decay of your teeth. Specialist in orthodontics suggested that look at orthodontics as an investment in your appearance and long-term, continual dental health.