What are braces used for
Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry concerned with alignment of the teeth. We usually recommend braces to improve the patient's bite alignment and/or appearance. With braces problems like crooked or crowded teeth, uneven spacing, overbites or underbites can be corrected. But orthodontic treatment can involve more than just braces -various other "retainer-like" appliances can be worn to reposition teeth.
When is the right time for braces?
Patients with orthodontic problems can benefit from treatment at any age. For some children, treatment can start at age 7 or 8, depending on the problem. In some cases poor jaw development may be the result of an improper habit such as thumb-sucking. Braces aren't usually put on any sooner than 9 years old for girls and 10 for boys. At these ages the bones of the head and jaws are growing fastest and teeth are easiest to move.
More and more adults are also wearing braces to correct problems and to improve their smiles. Adults can have braces at any age. As long as the patient's mouth is healthy, orthodontic therapy can start at any age. Patients in their 40's, 50's and even 60's have worn braces to correct the appearance of their teeth. Dr. Coles has had one patient who was 73 request and then wear braces for 2 years. These patients were all unhappy with the appearance of their teeth, most of them for many, many years.
How long will I have to wear braces?
That depends upon your needs. If your spacing or bite problem is more complicated it will usually requite a longer period of treatment. Likewise, older patients usually require longer treatment times. Most patients wear braces between 18 and 30 months. Following that patients usually wear a retainer for a few years to allow the teeth to settle and align the tissues around the straightened teeth.
Is it uncomfortable?
At appointments when wires and elastics are tightened, mild pressure is put on the teeth to shift them gradually into a desired position. Because of this your teeth may feel slightly sore after each visit, but the discomfort is mild and brief.
Do I have to avoid any foods or personal habits?
You bet. Avoid sticky or hard foods that can stick to your braces or damage them. Avoid sweets and acidic foods in general. Sticky foods and sugary liquids promote tooth decay, especially in area where plaque is allowed to accumulate. Sticky foods can also get stuck in wires or brackets and cause them to come off. Avoid hard and crunchy snacks that can break braces, including popcorn, nuts and hard candy. Chewing ice, biting your nails or chewing on pens are also risky.
How do I keep my teeth and braces clean?
For patients wearing braces, oral hygiene is more important than ever. Food and plaque get trapped around the braces and if not removed, can lead to decay. Patients need to brush carefully after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. A fluoride rinse may also be helpful for some of our patients who are having amore difficult time keeping things clean. We will be happy to show you how.