Dental braces are orthodontic appliances that are designed to straighten and improve the aesthetics and function of your teeth. This is beneficial for most children as straight teeth are easier to clean. In addition, after the teeth have been straightened, there is usually an increase in overall self-esteem.
However, the braces process can be uncomfortable when the teeth are being moved. Braces can also trap more food than usual, so great attention to good oral hygiene is required to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. The common types of braces include the traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, self-ligating braces and lingual braces. There are also invisible or clear braces, read more about Invisalign here.
Common Orthodontic Issues
|Metal braces are the most common and affordable type of braces. These braces are made of high-grade stainless steel. Metal braces are attached to the teeth and not removable by the patient. There are also wires that are held onto the braces with colourful rubber bands. Metal braces are most popular with teenagers who like to decorate their teeth and braces with colours. However, the braces have a certain thickness and patients usually take a week or two to get used to the braces in the mouth.|
|Ceramic braces are made from tooth-coloured materials that blend in naturally with the colour of teeth. These braces are more aesthetically pleasing as compared to metal braces, making it a popular choice for patients who want some form of aesthetic and less visible braces. The ceramic material used in the braces are stain resistant and do not discolour easily. However, like metal braces these ceramic braces also have a certain thickness that takes some getting used to.|
|Self-ligating braces are slightly different from the conventional metal or ceramic braces described earlier. These braces are also attached onto the teeth; however, the wires are held onto the braces using a �gate� that is built into the braces, hence the term self-ligating. This reduces the need for rubber bands and thus there is less friction in the whole braces system. This allows for lighter forces to be used on the teeth, and often translates to more comfortable treatment. Self-ligating braces are available in both the metal and ceramic varieties.|
|Lingual braces are braces that are attached to the inner side of the teeth, and are hidden from the outside. These are most preferred by patients who do not want to be seen with any type of braces. However, like the fixed type of metal and ceramic braces described earlier, lingual braces also have some thickness that needs some time to get used to.|
Benefits of Braces
1. Improve aesthetics of the teeth
2. Increase self confidence
3. Easier to keep teeth clean
4. Healthy teeth and gums
1. Initial consultation and assessment
2. Impressions and X-rays
3. Installation of braces
4. Regular reviews
5. Removal of braces
FAQs on Braces
1. It is common to see people having dental braces these days. Does everyone need them? Why do they have to wear braces?
2. When is a good time to start braces?
3. Are braces only for teenagers? Am I too old for braces?
4. I want to straighten my teeth but I feel conscious wea...
When is a good time to start braces?
In the majority of people who have crooked teeth but normal jaw growth, treatment can commence when most of the permanent teeth are out. This usually occurs around the age of 11 to 13 years.
However, there are some instances when early intervention is needed. Some children have developing jaw disharmonies where the jaws may be growing abnormally. Some have problems with permanent tooth eruption, either due to lack of space or misdirection of the teeth. In these situations, early braces treatment is required to assist the growth of the jaws or help guide teeth into their proper positions, respectively. This can take place anytime from 7 to 11 years of age.
Very often, these problems go unnoticed, which is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children should see an orthodontist from 7 years of age.
Are braces only for teenagers? Am I too old for braces?
Generally, orthodontic treatment is usually done during the teenage years. This is a good age as tooth movement is more efficient in younger patients. In addition, there is some growth potential remaining in adolescents, which may be beneficial during the course of treatment.
Having said that, adults can benefit from braces too. There is no age limit for braces because teeth can continue to be straightened in adulthood.
I want to straighten my teeth but I feel conscious wearing traditional metal braces. Are there other options available?
With more adults having braces nowadays, there is often concern about the visibility of metallic attachments on their teeth. Many adults request for braces that are less obvious, hidden or invisible. Indeed, there are numerous aesthetic alternatives to traditional metal braces.
One common solution is to use ceramic braces. These are tooth-coloured and thus less visible at a glance. Up close, a thin metal wire can sometimes be seen threading through the braces. A new clear wire is now available in the market and this complements ceramic braces to create a totally tooth-coloured system.
Another solution is the use of lingual braces. These braces are attached on the inner part of the teeth. As the metal and wires are all hidden behind the teeth, one can see hardly anything when looking from the outside.
Invisalign treatment is another aesthetic option for people who wish to straighten their teeth. This system consists of numerous clear plastic aligners that are worn over the teeth. Each of these aligners is custom made and progressively moves teeth into their desired positions. The aligners are barely seen when worn over the teeth due to the transparency and clarity of the material used. In addition, Invisalign is convenient and hygienic as patients can remove the aligners during mealtimes and whilst cleaning their teeth.
I have heard that retainers need to be worn after braces treatment. Why is that so?
Upon completion of orthodontic treatment, the teeth are slightly unstable in their new positions. Teeth that have been moved have a tendency to return to their original positions due to the nature of the surrounding gum tissue.
In order to minimise this tendency, retainers are usually worn over the teeth to maintain their corrected positions. In the initial period, they are worn throughout the day, only to be taken out when eating and brushing. When the teeth positions stabilise after a few months, the retainers may then be worn only at night.