Tag Archives: Orthognathic Surgery

How Orthodontics Makes Your Smile Better

While having a great smile can make you feel good, teeth that are out of alignment can affect the way you feel around others.

Apart from the way you feel, crooked teeth and bite problems can affect your general health as well as your dental health.

Orthodontics is the specialist branch of dentistry that helps deal with bite problems and teeth that are out of alignment.

The best known part of orthodontics is the uses of braces to straighten teeth, sort out spacing issues and resolve other dental problems as well as issues with the jaw and palate.

Dental Braces have three parts – brackets, band and arch wire.

Brackets are attached to each tooth with a band and arch wire runs between the brackets.

This applies pressure over a period of time to straighten teeth which have grown awkwardly.

While the traditional metal braces are still the most common, there is now a wide range of additional options such as ceramic braces, Invisalign braces, self-ligating braces and lingual braces.

Braces can now even be “invisible” for those who are concerned about their appearance.

Treatment with braces can last from six months to several years depending on how old you are and the specifics of the dental problem. Braces have to be adjusted regularly so that they continue working effectively.

While most orthodontic patients are children or teenagers, many adults are now seeing the benefits of orthodontic treatment.

Wearing braces when you are younger is most effective as it can improve the way you look and enhance your health for the rest of your life.

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The Process of Getting Braces

Before you get braces, your dentist or orthodontist will determine if braces are suitable for you and will help solve the problems you face.

First they will conduct a visual inspection of your teeth.

If they determine that you need braces, they will set up what is known as a “records appointment”. At this appointment, X-rays, molds, and impressions are made of your mouth and teeth.

These records will be used to help determine the best action to take.

The full course of treatment may be between six months to two and a half years depending on the issues.

The fist step of fitting the braces is to apply adhesive to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth.

Normally, the teeth will then be banded and brackets added. Dental cement is used to apply the bracket and light will be used to help this harden quickly. This usually takes a few seconds per tooth.

Spacers may be used to create room for molar bands to be added later to ensure brackets will stick. These can be used when previous dental work such as fillings makes it difficult to secure a bracket to the teeth.

An archwire is then threaded between the brackets and affixed with elastic or metal ligatures. The archwires will need to be adjusted frequently to help achieve the desired outcome.

When the archwire is cold, it is normally flexible so that it can be easily threaded between the brackets. After it heats up to body temperature, the archwire attempts to retain its shape. This is what applies the light force needed to move the teeth.

Often there is a problem because there is not enough space in the mouth for all the teeth to fit properly. If this is the case, then some teeth may be removed. Alternatively, an expander may be used to enlarge the palate or arch.

Braces need to be adjusted every couple of months and this may cause a little discomfort. But most of the time with braces you will forget they are there.

What Happens After You No Longer Need Braces?

When braces have done their job and moved your teeth into the desired position, you will still need to take steps to ensure they don’t move back.

You will normally be given retainers to wear after the braces are no longer needed to ensure the teeth don’t drift to their original position.

The most popular type of retainer uses metal hooks that surround the teeth enclosed by an acrylic plate shaped to fit your palate.

If your teeth are not ready for a retainer, your orthodontist may suggest using a pre-finisher.

This is made of rubber and is similar to a mouth guard. It fixes gaps between the teeth, small spaces between the upper and lower jaw, and other minor problems that braces cannot fix.

A pre-finisher is molded to your teeth with pressure applied. You then be advised to apply pressure to it for a few seconds at a time over a set period until it completes its job.

The retainer and pre-finisher are temporary and can be moved in and out of your mouth.

Braces Are Not Only To Straighten Teeth

While many people think braces are only for straightening teeth, they actually help deal with many other problems.

Crowded Teeth: Sometimes your mouth is not big enough to hold all your teeth in the right place. Crowded teeth may become impacted and affect your bite. Crowding can be corrected by removal of teeth as well as braces.

Overbite: Upper teeth extend too far out over the lower teeth. The gap between the upper and lower teeth may lead you to injure your gums or lips. It can also cause your lips to be pushed forward meaning you are not able to close your lips completely over your teeth.

Underbite: Your lower teeth extend in front of your upper teeth. It is usually caused by having a lower jaw longer than the upper jaw.

Crossbite: Some of your upper teeth bite down inside the lower teeth but others bite down correctly. If you suffer from this, you may have problems chewing.

Open Bite: Your lower and upper incisor teeth do not touch when you bite down. This puts a lot of pressure on the back teeth when chewing and biting. If you suffer from this, you might rub your teeth together without intending to.

Space Problems: If you have teeth that are smaller than normal, or you have lost important teeth, you may have spacing problems. The teeth may spread out and, if the spaces become too large, you might have problems biting and chewing. However, the main issue with space problems is often cosmetic.

The Pros and Cons of Hidden Braces

While regular metal braces with an arch wire and elastics are still the most common, some people opt for a different approach.

One option is lingual or “hidden” braces which are fixed to the inside of the teeth.

They still use brackets and wires, but those brackets and wires cannot generally be seen by others.

Rather than having brackets bonded to the teeth and wires attached with elastic, lingual braces have brackets built for each tooth.

The brackets are fixed to each tooth with cement and then the arch wire is threaded through the brackets.

Pros of Lingual Braces
They look better than regular braces
They work as effectively as regular braces
Food caught in them is not usually visible to others
May be more stable than other options

Cons of Lingual Braces
They can take longer to get used to
The way you talk may be affected, especially at first
Caring for them is more difficult
Cleaning takes longer
They can be more expensive as they have to be custom made and installation is more complex

Definitions of Parts of Your Braces

Here are definitions of some of the key terms used for the different elements of braces.

Appliance: Something attached to teeth to move them or change the shape of the jaw

Arch Wire: Metal wire which is attached to brackets to move teeth

Band: Metal ring placed on teeth to hold on parts of braces

Bracket: Device glued on to teeth to fasten the arch wire

Orthodontic Chain: Used to hold archwires into brackets and to move teeth

Ligating Module: Small plastic donut-shaped device to hold the arch wires in the brackets

Lingual Appliances: Orthodontic devices fixed to inside of teeth

Mouthguard: Protects your mouth from injury during sports and other activities to limit injuries

Retainer: Device usually worn for some time after braces removed to hold teeth in position

Wax: Helps stop braces from irritating your lips especially in early stages

Common Questions About Braces

Here are the answers to some common questions about what it like to have braces

What is it like having braces?,
When you have braces, you will probably find your mouth sore for a few days. It can also be uncomfortable when the braces are tightened. However, most of the time you probably won’t even notice them.

Do braces hurt?
It can depend on which type you choose but usually modern braces will not hurt except for the first few days or when they are tightened.

While the manufacturers are always looking for ways to make them more comfortable, a little discomfort at the beginning is still common. You will be able to take some painkillers if necessary. The pain may be greater if you start orthodontic treatment when you are an adult.

Will it be embarrassing to wear braces?
Over 70% of teenagers wear braces and therefore most people have some experience of them so there is no need to feel embarrassed. If you start treatment when you are an adult, the proportion of people wearing braces is lower but you will still find most people supportive.

Will braces cause sores in my mouth?
Sometimes you might experience sores on your lips in the first few days. These can easily be rinsed in water or special solution and will usually heal within a week or so. You can also put wax on the braces to prevent the braces from rubbing and irritating the sore.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?
It varies a lot depending on exactly what changes need to happen in your mouth. When started young it may last a few months. From the age of 12, it can take a year or two and perhaps more for adults. However it depends very much on your personal situation and your orthodontists will be able to advise you.