Everything you need to know about braces

Orthodontic treatments not only correct crooked teeth, these custom designed oral health appliances also correct improper bite patterns, can make more space in a small mouth, and can positively impact speaking, eating and self-esteem.  All orthodontic treatments are specially-designed and custom-fit for each individual patient and can include different types of braces, headgear, palate expander and much more.

Pediatric dentists often refer patients to orthodontists after noting tooth crowding, bite concerns, speech issues or other factors.  Although the child may not begin orthodontic treatments for several years,  pediatric dentists and orthodontists work in tandem to determine the best course of treatment, customized to each child and their specific oral health care needs.

About braces: Braces place a constant, gentle, intentional force on teeth in order to move them in a desired direction. Braces can be removable or attached to the teeth and can be crafted from metal, plastic or ceramic. Braces brackets can be clear or metal-colored. Wires are often made of nickel, alloy, titanium, copper or cobalt. Clear orthodontic wires are current being developed and tested, but are not available yet. All wires are designed to guide your teeth into the desired position, straightening crooked teeth, making more space in the mouth and correcting bite issues, as well.

About maintenance: Regular and correct oral health care is important no matter what, but is exceptionally important to those wearing braces. Patients with braces should avoid hard or sticky foods that could cause damage to the braces components. Extra care should be taken when brushing, flossing and cleaning the mouth to ensure that braces do not trap any food debris, which could cause tooth decay and other damage.

About discomfort: Because braces are designed to move teeth within the mouth, some pain and discomfort is to be expected, especially after initially braces introduction or after wires and brackets are adjusted.  Most pain is short-lived and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.  Some with braces experience lip, cheek, tongue and mouth discomfort while adjusting to the orthodontic appliances within the mouth. Talk to your dentist about ways to manage pain, including warm salt water mouth rinses, dental wax and other aids.

Other details: People of all ages can enjoy correction from braces. Although they are commonly applied to younger patients, adults of all ages have benefitted from braces as well.  When wearing braces, the wearer mostly continues “life as usual” avoiding some foods, cleaning the mouth and teeth more carefully, visiting oral health care providers more frequently and wearing a specially-designed mouth guard when playing contact sports. After braces are removed, patients are frequently fitted with permanent or removable retainers that aid in maintaining the corrected position of the teeth.

Do you think you might need braces? Are you worried about visiting the dentist or orthodontist? Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from the dental care you may need.  Regular checkups with your dentist and consultation with an orthodontist to discuss additional possible needs are necessary to keep your teeth and mouth in the best shape possible. Today, dentists and orthodontists use a variety of tools and techniques to ensure a comfortable oral health care experience. That’s really something to smile about!

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