Braces are applied to teeth for various reasons, including poorly aligned jaws, crooked, crowded and missing teeth, or a bad bite (also called malocclusion).
Various things can cause teeth to become crooked or jaw misalignment, including thumb-sucking or a traumatic injury. Some conditions are inherited.
Children among the ages of 7 and 14 are typical candidates for braces because their facial structures are still developing. Adult braces usually entail additional procedures because their faces have already fully developed.
Orthodontics is a field of dentistry that will manage corrections involving jaw and teeth alignment. An orthodontist is a specialist who diagnoses and applies braces.
Braces employ the use of wires and are usually one of three types:
• Old-fashioned, conventional braces, which employ the use of metal strips, or bands.
• Ceramic or just plain clear brackets that are cemented or bonded to teeth.
• Brackets that attach to the back teeth (also called "lingual" braces).
Orthodontic procedures, also called "orthodontia," are complex processes.
In most cases, an orthodontist will need to make a plaster cast of the individuals teeth and perform full X-rays of the head and mouth.
After orthodontic appliances are placed, they need to be adjusted from time to time to ensure that they continue to move the teeth into their correct position.
Retainers are used following braces to ensure that teeth remain in position.
Aesthetic and Comfort Issues
Advances in technology have vastly improved appearance issues with orthodontia.
Braces today are made from extremely lightweight and natural-colored materials. The materials that braces attach to-brackets-are bonded to the surfaces of teeth but can be later removed.
People can expect to wear braces for about two years-less or more in some cases. Adults are usually required to wear braces for longer periods of time.
Because orthodontic appliances need to be adjusted from time to time to ensure they continue to move the teeth into their correct position, they can create pressure on the teeth and jaws. This mild discomfort usually subsides following each orthodontia adjustment.
People who wear braces must be diligent in ensuring that food particles and other debris do not get trapped in the network of brackets and wires. In addition, brackets can leave stains on enamel if the areas surrounding are not cleaned on a daily basis.
Daily oral hygiene such as brushing, flossing and rinsing are a necessity. Some people with orthodontic appliances can benefit from using water picks, which emit small pressurized bursts of water that can effectively rinse away such debris.
Another caveat: Braces and sticky foods do not mix. Crunchy snacks and chewy substances should be avoided at all costs because they can cause orthodontia to be loosened or damaged.
Whitening procedures have effectively restored the smile of people with stained, dull, or discolored teeth.
The darker tissue of your teeth, the dentin, can become exposed as the outer layer of enamel is worn away by the effects of aging or things like caffeine and tobacco.
Food particles are naturally attracted to a tooth's enamel by a certain protein. Products like coffee, tea, berries, and soy sauce are notorious for staining teeth. Over time, teeth actually become more absorbent and vulnerable to staining from food and other substances.
One type of stain—caused by traumatic injuries, medications and fluorosis—actually begins inside the tooth; brushing and flossing don’t help. Another type of stain—one that can be more easily attacked by brushing, flossing and rinsing—is caused by external factors such as foods.
More and more people today are choosing tooth-whitening procedures to reverse the effects of aging and abuse from food and tobacco stains.
Some commercially available "whitening toothpastes" can be somewhat effective at removing stains and making teeth a few shades brighter. However, many of these products have abrasive substances that can actually wear away your tooth's enamel.
Whitening agents actually change the color of your teeth, but only are effective on certain types of stains. For example, bleaching agents have a difficult time removing brownish or grayish stains. These products also are not as effective on pitted or badly discolored teeth, or on restorations such as crowns, bridges, bonding and tooth-colored fillings (porcelain veneers or dental bonding may be more appropriate in this case).
Professional whitening performed by our office is considered to be the most effective and safest method; done properly, tooth whitening can last as long as five years. Over-the-counter whitening systems are somewhat effective as long as they are monitored and directions are followed closely.
Space maintainers are incredibly helpful devices that can aid in the normal growth of teeth following premature tooth loss, injury or other problems.
These devices can help ensure that proper spaces are maintained to allow future permanent teeth to erupt.
If your child loses a baby tooth early through decay or injury, his or her other teeth could shift and begin to fill the vacant space. When your child's permanent teeth emerge, there is not enough room for them. The result is crooked or crowded teeth and difficulties with chewing or speaking.