What is orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that focuses on the alignment of your teeth, generally done using fixed braces and retainers. The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthy bite—to straighten teeth so that they properly meet opposing teeth in the opposite jaw. A good bite makes it easier for you to bite, chew, and speak. Retainers are often necessary after braces are removed, especially with adults.
Why and when is orthodontic treatment needed?
Orthodontic treatment is important because crowding of teeth can ultimately require extraction of some teeth. The treatment is favorable for ages 8 to 14 years, while tooth growth is still occurring, and the American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have an orthodontic evaluation at the age of 7. The process can also prepare teeth for restorations by the dentist that may not have been possible before orthodontic treatment.
Metal or porcelain braces?
Metal braces are the most basic and affordable treatment option available. The strength of metal, compared to other orthodontic options, ensures its components will not break easily and disrupt treatment. Its only real negative is appearance. Flashing a mouthful of metal isn’t everyone’s idea of the idyllic smile. Porcelain brackets are made from a glass-like composite material that appears transparent, allowing your teeth to shine through. You may even be given the option of clear wires to further reduce visual evidence of braces. The negatives include more cost than metal braces and the components are more fragile than metal. Also, the brackets may stain easily.
What all is involved?
After your patient exam and treatment options are explained, an appointment for placement of your braces is set. The teeth are prepped for the brackets before carefully positioning each bracket on each tooth, a process that takes about two hours. The patient experiences no pain whatsoever during the installation of the braces. Throughout your orthodontic treatment, routine checks are scheduled which typically last no longer than 15-20 minutes and take place every 6-10 weeks. When it’s time to take off your braces—called “debanding”—it is strongly advised to have a good cleaning, check-up, and fluoride treatment following the removal. Some patients opt for teeth whitening as well.
How long will I have to wear braces?
Generally, braces are worn anywhere from 18 months to two years (adults up to three years). At the time of the removal of your braces, a set of retainers to hold your teeth in position will be made. Most patients are advised to wear their retainers indefinitely in some capacity (a rule of thumb: usually for as long as the braces were worn) to ensure that your teeth stay straight.