All About Dental Braces!
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All About Dental Braces!
By: Dr. Nabil Mockbil, Founder of the Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai
Dental braces are largely synonymous with the teenage years- having braces is almost like a rite of passage for teens. Adults also use dental braces to correct any crooked teeth and to improve the aesthetics of the facial appearance.
These wire-based dental devices are fixed by dentists and orthodontists to correct any misaligned teeth to improve the bite pattern and smile.
How does it work?
- Dental braces may be fitted by your dentist or you may be referred to a specialist called an orthodontist.
- Braces work by gently moving teeth using a process called bone remodelling.
- Brackets are attached to the teeth and a metal wire is threaded through the brackets.
- These wires are gradually tightened by the orthodontistplacing pressure on the teeth which slowly moves them into the desired position.
- The optimal age for having dental braces is around 14 years. At this point, all the permanent teeth have erupted but the bones are still growing so that the teeth are easily realigned. Realignment takes longer in adults because the bones have stopped growing.
- There are many types of braces that are used. The most common type is the metal wire. Others include ceramic wirewhich is less visible and lingual braces that are fixed behind the teeth. Your orthodontist will advise you on the best one for you.
Why are dental braces used?
- To correct an uneven bite. The long-term effects of an uneven bite are serious on the wear of the teeth and the jaw.
- To straighten crooked or overcrowded teeth. Sometimes teeth erupt from the gum at odd angles or too close together. These may create problems with impacted teeth and increased cavities because it is difficult to clean tooth surfaces properly.
- Some people naturally have big gaps between the teeth. Big gaps may make grinding, biting and chewing food more difficult thus impacting food digestion.
- To correct an overbite or overjet. This is when the front teeth of the upper jaw excessively overlap the lower teeth.
- An underbite can also be corrected. This is when the front teeth of the upper jaw are positioned behind the front teeth of the lower jaw.
What are the disadvantages of dental braces?
- Dental hygiene is more difficult with the oral wire devices in place. Food particles and plaque build-up can make you more prone to gum disease and tooth cavities.
- Mineral loss from the enamel of the teeth may cause permanent staining.
- Dental braces work by causing tooth movement along the jaw bone. You can experience loss of tooth root length during this process. The consequence is teeth that are less stable within the gum.
- Once the dental braces are removed, your dentist or orthodontist may give you a retainer to wear for a period. If you fail to continue wearing the retainer as advised by your dentist, you could lose some of the corrective movement created by the dental braces. It is therefore imperative to follow the dentist’s advice as closely as possible.
What you can do while wearing braces:
- Maintain rigorous oral hygiene. This includes taking the time to brush your teeth carefully with a soft bristled toothbrush and toothpaste after every meal. If this is impossible, rinse your mouth with water to dislodge any trapped food particles.
- You may be advised to use a fluoride mouth rinse to clear any stuck food from the gaps.
- There are many types of interdental brushes and flosses available to make flossing easier. This will also remove food particles that are stuck in the gaps.
- Plaque formation is speeded up with sugary and starchy foods. So, avoid foods that encourage plaques deposits which will lead to more cavities.
- Avoid sticky foods like toffee and chewing gum that can damage the brackets and wires of the dental braces. The same applies to hard candies, nuts and popcorn. These hard foods can break the various components on the dental device.
- Follow the dentist’s instructions as closely as possible. If you don’t, you may end up prolonging the time required to move the teeth into the desired positions.
- Regular dentist visits will ensure the dentist can monitor the progress of the teeth, clean the difficult-to-reach areas in your mouth and check there are no potential problems developing like cavities or gum disease.
What does it involve?
Your orthodontist will need to take a few steps before you get your braces fitted.
- A thorough exam of your mouth, teeth and jaw. He will take note of the type of bite you have and the position.
- X-rays will be taken show if there are any unerupted teeth still in the gum, the exact position of the teeth to be moved, the bite position and the correlation between the teeth and the size of the jaw.
- A plaster model is cast of your mouth. This gives the orthodontist a 3D model of your teeth and jaw. It can also be scanned digitally to help the orthodontist decide on a treatment plan.
- Where there is overcrowding in the mouth, the orthodontist will decide which teeth to extractso that the remaining teeth can be comfortably moved into position.
- Extreme jaw misalignment may require surgery to correct.