Braces and Retainers for All Ages

Having crooked teeth, an under bite, or an overbite doesn’t mean there aren’t treatments available to you to straighten your teeth. These treatments can include the use of braces and retainers.

You’ll find that many general dentists today can do basic alignments and orthodontics, but you’ll want an orthodontist, who specializes in correcting teeth irregularities, in most cases.

Either doctor will certainly ask you questions about your health overall, conduct an exam, get impressions of your teeth, capture photos of your face and teeth, and even take X-rays of your mouth and head. They need all of this information to provide you with an appropriate treatment plan.

Your plan can be as simple as a removable retainer or it can be as complicated as having surgery (depends on severity of under bite or overbite) though you’ll most likely be facing braces to correct your teeth.

Available Types of Braces

Depending on your dentist or orthodontists recommendation, you can find yourself with a specific appliance that can consist of bands, wires, and other appliances that are either fixed or removable. Everyone has his/her own personalized method.

How Do They Work?

With braces, your teeth are experiencing continuous pressure over a certain time period to get your teeth in the specific positions where they need to be. With each movement of the teeth, the bone also changes its shape as the braces apply pressure.

Most braces are made from the following parts:

  • Brackets, or small squares, bonded to the front of your teeth. These are the handles for the wires that are moving your teeth into certain positions. Your brackets can come in different forms, such as stainless steel, ceramic, or even plastic (often used because they’re less visible). Some dentists or orthodontists may place the brackets on the back of your teeth to hide them.
  • There are even orthodontic bands, made from the similar materials as the brackets, that are also cemented to the teeth. They are used for the anchor of the bracket by wrapping around the tooth. Some patients will have these though most will only have the brackets.
  • Should your teeth need some space between them, spacers can be placed prior to the orthodontic bands.
  • The arch wires are the wires placed within the brackets and are the guiders for your teeth’s movement. They can be made from metals or materials that are clear of tooth-colored.
  • Ties, or small rubber rings/wires, that keep the arch wire attached to the bracket. They can come in an array of colors, metals, or just clear.
  • You’ll find a buccal tube is attached to the last tooth so your arch wire can be secured in place.
  • Ligatures, or tiny rubber bands, also hold the arch wires to the brackets.
  • Some arch wires may be equipped with springs between the brackets that can push, pull, open, or close the spaces between your teeth.
  • You can even have two bands on your upper teeth that contain headgear tubes so the facebow of the headgear will hold its place.
  • Larger rubber bands can attach to hooks on your brackets that are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways. They help achieve the right fit for individual teeth through pressure applications.
  • Some may need facebow headgear to aid in moving the upper molars in the mouth to fix bite problems and create more room for overcrowded teeth. It has an inner metal part that goes in the mouth, attaching to the buccal tubes, and an outer part that consists of a strap going around the head.

There are also new innovations in the braces industry, including mini-braces that are much smaller than your traditional braces. There is also the use of removable retainers, made of plastic, that can also fix crowding of teeth if the condition isn’t too severe. Your orthodontist is the best source for advice on the right braces for your needs and how to correct your situation with the best possible results.

Braces and Wearing Time

Each person is different, so the time it takes for braces to do their job will vary from person to person. It will mainly depend on the problem’s severity, the room available, the traveling distance for your teeth, the health of your mouth, and how well you can follow instructions. In most cases, the wearer will have the braces from one to three years. Upon their removal, most will find themselves with a retainer to wear day and night for six months and then at night for several years.

Frequency of Orthodontist Visits

You’ll typically visit your orthodontist every month or so to check the progress of your teeth and the pressure your braces are applying. Sometimes, you may find your orthodontist making adjustments to the wires, springs, or even the rubber bands. While braces will work for most, they won’t for all to straighten their teeth and/or shift their jaw correctly. In these cases, you’ll find some wearing headgear at home during the evening or night hours.

Are Braces Painful?

You can experience some discomfort or soreness from the adjustments your orthodontist makes on your braces. You will find that Motrin or Tylenol can prove beneficial in relieving these symptoms. However, if you’re experiencing a lot of pain, you should speak with your orthodontist, so he/she may adjust your braces in a different, less painful manner.

Braces’ Success and Age

The overall process of braces remains the same for any age, which makes them a viable option for children and adults alike, who would like to improve their teeth’s appearance and their bite. The differences you’ll mainly see between children and adults are the corrections for adults may require more braces and can take longer due to the bone no longer growing within their jaw compared to children.

Sports and Braces

You’ll find that braces won’t hinder your ability to play sports of any kind. When you’re playing sports, it’s a good idea to wear a specially designed mouth guard if there’s a possibility of getting hit in the mouth. This mouth guard is designed so it’ll fit over your braces and protect the soft tissues in your mouth, typically made of a durable plastic.

What Happens After the Braces Are Removed?

First off, you’ll have your teeth cleaned thoroughly. Then, you may have an extra set of X-rays and bite impressions done by your orthodontist to check the overall success of your braces on your teeth and also to check for any wisdom teeth that may have developed. If they are discovered, your dentist or orthodontist may want you to remove them to prevent your straightened teeth from shifting.

You will also be fitted for a retainer, a custom-made, removable appliance that keeps your teeth in the new position that your braces have achieved to be worn once your braces are removed. They can also be a fix for minor orthodontic problems. This is a very important tool for post-braces care. They’ll need to be worn day and night for the first six months and then only at night. Made of rubber or clear plastic and metal wires, they cover the surface of the teeth and the timeframe for a retainer to be worn will vary from one patient to the next. While your braces have straightened your teeth successfully, they haven’t yet settled in their new positions, which is why you’ll need the retainer until your bones, gums, and muscles adapt. It can also be found that teeth shift over long time periods.

The Cost of Braces

While the braces cost will vary based on your individual needs, you can expect them to average around $5,000 for metal braces. If you have insurance, you’ll want to check to see if your insurance company covers any portion of this amount for your orthodontic treatment.