You have been told that you need braces to correct crowded, crooked, overlapping, or gaps in your teeth. Orthodontics may seem like a daunting process, but this extensive guide can help you find all the answers to the questions you are bound to have as you explore treatment options.
How Do Braces Straighten Crooked Teeth?
Braces use constant, gentle pressure, which over time, move teeth into their proper positions. Your braces are at work every moment of your orthodontic treatment. The two main components of your braces are: the brackets that are placed on your teeth and the main archwire that connects them. The bracket is a piece of shaped metal or ceramic that we affix to each tooth. The archwire is bent to reflect your “ideal” bite.
If elastics (rubber bands) are needed, they are attached to your braces exerting the proper force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth. In order for this force to remain constant, elastics must be worn all the time and changed every day.
Types of Braces
Traditional Metal Braces
Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces and are more comfortable today than ever before. Made of high-grade stainless steel, metal braces straighten your teeth using metal brackets and archwires. With metal braces, you have the option of adding colored elastics (rubber bands) for a more unique and colorful smile.
Self-ligating braces are made from the same materials as traditional braces. However, self-ligating braces do not require the use of elastics, meaning fewer appointments and less friction being placed on the tooth. Self-ligating braces come with traditional metal, ceramic, or clear brackets. They are the same size as metal braces but use a specialized clip in place of elastics to help the archwire guide teeth into place. The clip helps reduce the amount of pressure being placed on the tooth and requires fewer adjustments because there are no elastics to replace.
Clear (Ceramic) Braces
Ceramic braces are made of clear materials and are therefore less visible on your teeth than metal braces. For this reason, ceramic braces are used mainly on older teenagers and adult patients who have cosmetic concerns. While they are visually less prominent, they do require more attention to oral hygiene as ceramic braces are larger and are more brittle than their metal counterparts.
Clear aligners are a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable acrylic trays that straighten your teeth like braces. Not only are the aligners invisible, but they are also removable, so you can eat and drink whatever you would like while in treatment. The aligners are comfortable and have no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment.
Will I Need to Wear a Retainer?
Most likely you’ll need to wear a retainer for a certain period of time based on your treatment.
Having to wear a retainer after you get your braces off can definitely be frustrating, but it is a very necessary extra step. Even after a full treatment with braces, your teeth will start to shift a little again after the braces are taken off. When you wear a retainer, your teeth are held in their new positions for longer which will ultimately give you better results.
Some orthodontic patients need to just wear one retainer on the bottom or on the top, but some patients might need both. Typically at first, you will wear the retainer all day long and then you will most likely only have to wear it at night to sleep. Keep in mind that each individual treatment plan is different.
Retainers generally come in two types, removable and fixed. The removable kind is usually worn for about a year, while the fixed retainer may be worn for several years. Fixed retainers are adhered to the backs of your teeth using cement.
Retainers are typically made of:
Acrylic – These are the most common type of retainers. They are made of bendable wire and acrylic and are adjustable. They also come in different colors and styles.
Clear – These are made of molded clear plastic that fit over your teeth. Because these are less noticeable they are a popular choice, especially for adults.
Like when you were wearing braces, with the retainers, your teeth may feel pressure and you may experience some soreness as your mouth adjusts to the retainer. If the retainer causes you pain though or cuts into your gums, then let your orthodontist know. It probably needs some readjustment.