Orthodontia is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Braces are appliances or devices used to make these corrections. Braces are a common method of changing your appearance. Today, even adults are requesting braces. When teeth are poorly positioned, they can look bad and they are also more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease and dental decay. A poor bite can also stress your jaw joints (TMJs) or your muscles and can cause pain. Both fixed and removable orthodontic appliances are available to correct the position of your teeth.
Who Needs Orthodontic Treatment?
Children as well as adults are
choosing to have orthodontic treatment for several reasons:
m malocclusion (bite or occlusion is off)
m tooth malalignment (crooked teeth)
m unhappy with appearance of teeth
During the preteen and teenage years, the jaws are growing and maturing, therefore it is easier to shift teeth at this stage rather than later on in adulthood. More adults are choosing to have orthodontic treatment in order to improve the appearance of their teeth. Since their jaws are no longer growing, treatment may take a little longer.
Causes of Malocclusion
Hereditary - for example, you may inherit your mother's small
jaw, and your father's large teeth; if this is the case, your teeth would be
too large to fit your jaw.
Trauma - if you lose a tooth due to an accident, then teeth may start to drift into the empty space.
Disease - you can lose a tooth early due to cavities or gum disease; this often leaves a space which other teeth drift towards.
Malnutrition - nutritional deficiencies can alter the growth of the jaws and teeth.
Habits - like lip-biting (below) & thumb-sucking can shift the teeth out of alignment.
How to Take Care of Your Braces
· Braces collect food and dental plaque very easily. If proper oral hygiene is neglected during orthodontic treatment both tooth decay and periodontal disease can easily occur.
· It is very important to maintain a daily plaque control program. Such a program may be as follows:
· A soft toothbrush should be used. A special orthodontic toothbrush can also be used to brush your teeth.
· Flossing with braces takes more time than usual. Superfloss or floss threaders can aid in flossing, and make it more time efficient.
· An interdental brush can be used to fit between the wire and the tooth to remove hard-to-reach plaque and food debris.
· Oral irrigators can be used as an adjunct to brushing and flossing. This helps remove food debris and plaque.
· A mouthwash containing fluoride can be used to help prevent cavities from occurring.
· Hard foods should be avoided since they can bend the wires, loosen the bands, or break the brackets. Fruits and raw vegetables should be cut up into smaller pieces and chewed on the back teeth.
· Sticky foods such as gum, toffee, chikki and caramel should be avoided since they can bend and break the wires and brackets.
· Foods high in sugar should also be avoided, since these increases the chances of tooth decay.
· Regular dental appointments are important to monitor the health of the teeth and gums during orthodontic treatment.
· Orthodontics is a lot of work and taking care of them is not easy, but in the end, the results will be worthwhile when you have your new and improved smile.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I get Braces?
· Your smile is the most striking part of your face. Braces (orthodontic treatment) will make your smile look great. The appearance of teeth and face, jaw alignment, proportion and function can be greatly improved which in turn leads to improved self-esteem, confidence, well-being and feeling of acceptance.
· You will be able to chew your food better.
Chewing is the first step in digestion. If your teeth are not straight, you will not be able to chew your food correctly so partially unchewed food will go down to your stomach. That can give you an upset stomach
· You will avoid dental problems.
If you do not get orthodontic treatment when you need it you will have problems with your teeth for years to come; your teeth will be hard to clean. Your gums will hurt. Your teeth will wear in ways that the should not. The effects are significant enough that many adults are now going back to the orthodontist for braces.
· You may avoid developing a breathing problem.
As you get older the roof your mouth can sometimes partially block the air passages in your nose. That makes you snore loudly, and may contribute to a condition called "sleep apnea". If you get braces you can avoid this possibility.
· Reduce risk of injury to protruding front teeth
· Correct harmful habits
Why do people need braces?
Orthodontic problems are built into your genes. In the last 10,000 years, people got bigger. People's mouths got a little bigger but people's teeth got A LOT BIGGER. The result is that most people’s teeth no longer fit correctly in most people's mouths. Your orthodontist moves your teeth around and possibly stretches your mouth so everything fits correctly.
Are there other reasons that people need braces?
It has been said that if babies use a pacifier (dummy) for too long, they can develop an incorrect bite. Orthodontic problems can also be caused by injuries to your mouth, or if you suck you thumb when you are older than two. Fingernail biting, or lip biting can also cause orthodontic problems. There is also some information about breastfeeding increasing orthodontic problems if the breastfeeding is stopped suddenly. Still, most people need braces because their teeth grow faster than their mouth. That is a natural part of growing up, and there is nothing you can do about it.
How Does Orthodontics Work?
Braces use steady, gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. They don't look like they're doing much just sitting there. but in fact, every moment or your orthodontic treatment, there's something happening in your mouth. Something good for you. The brackets we place on your teeth and the main arch wire that connects them, are the two main components. The bracket is a piece of specially shaped metal or ceramic that we affix to each tooth. Then we bend the arch wire to reflect your 'ideal" bite-what we want you to look like after treatment. The wire threads through the brackets and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to actually move your teeth.
The orthodontist pushes your jaw to stretch your mouth so all your teeth fit. He then pushes on your teeth so they are all in the proper places. If your top jaw is too small, your orthodontist can install a special gadget called a "palatal expander" to get your jaw to grow wider. If your teeth stick out, your orthodontist can install another gadget called a "face bow" to push your back teeth back. In that way, your orthodontist is able to move around individual teeth and expand your jaw so that all of your teeth fit correctly in your mouth.
At what age should I start orthodontic treatment?
You can get orthodontic treatment at any age. Kids as young as 4 are sometimes advised to start orthodontics early to avoid a problem later on. People as old as 60 sometimes get orthodontic treatment to fix crooked teeth. Still, orthodontic treatment works best and is the least painful when you are 8 to 14 so we advise that you start orthodontic treatment then.
Your jaw is growing the quickest when your are 8 or 9 so it is usually best to expand your jaw and reshape your mouth when you are 8 or 9. This is called "interceptive orthodontics". Then you should wait for most of your permanent teeth to come in. Usually, your permanent teeth come in when you are 12 or 13 and so that is the best time to start full orthodontic treatment when you are 12, 13 or 14.
What happens if I wait until I am older?
You can get braces at any age so if you are too afraid; you can wait a couple of years. However, as you get older the treatment takes longer and hurts more. Your jaw is growing fast when you are 8, so your jaw is easy to stretch. If you wait until you are 12, the orthodontist needs to push a lot harder to expand your jaw so it hurts. By time you are 20, you may need surgery to expand your jaw.
What is having braces like?
Generally, teenagers do not find braces to be any big deal. Your mouth is usually sore for the first week after you get braces. Also, your mouth will be sore when the braces are tightened. However, with modern braces, you should get so used to the braces, that you should not notice the braces, except when the braces are being tightened or if you get hit in the mouth.
If you start orthodontic treatment when you are 18 or older, it generally is more uncomfortable; your teeth feel like they are loose in your mouth. Still, the pain is worth the gain.
Do Braces Hurt?
It matters what kind of braces you use. Old fashioned braces will hurt a lot of the time. However, if you get modern braces, they will not hurt except when they are first put in or when your braces are tightened.
Can I still talk when I have braces?
Yes. Standard braces should not affect how you talk or the sound of your voice. You can talk, sing, yell, make fun of people, and act just as you do now. Braces will not stop you from having fun. Just do not get punched in the mouth. It hurts!
Occasionally the orthodontist needs to put in a gadget which gets in the way of your tongue. If so, you may have trouble talking clearly for a day or two, but then you will be able to talk fine.
Are there any other activities that I should avoid when I have braces?
We advise against you participating in activities where there will be many blows to your mouth. Sports like boxing, karate, and wrestling should be avoided. Fighting should also be avoided.
Can I eat when I get braces?
Yes! You can eat most of the good things that you can eat now. The one big limitation is that your mouth will get sore after you first get braces, so we recommend that you only eat softer foods for the first week. However, after that you should be able to eat normally.
Is there anything else that I cannot eat?
You probably should not eat hard sticky, gooey or crunchy foods. Caramel, toffee, chikki, can stick on your braces and pull the braces off your teeth. You also need to be careful with crunchy foods like carrots and apples and hard rolls so that you do not knock your braces off your teeth.
What happens if the braces come off?
The orthodontist will attach them again. Usually, this is no big deal, although if it happens lots of times, your orthodontic treatment will take longer.
Why cannot the orthodontist attach the braces strongly enough that the braces cannot come off during eating?
The orthodontist needs to take off your braces at the end of the orthodontic treatment. If the orthodontist attaches your braces too firmly, the braces will not come off again at the end of your orthodontic treatment.
What can I expect on the first visit to the orthodontist?
Generally, it takes a few visits to the orthodontist for you to start your treatment. On your first visit your medical history is recorded. The orthodontist will then examine your mouth to see if you need orthodontic treatment.
Generally, the orthodontist will look at your mouth to see if everything is ok. Is your mouth big enough to hold all of your teeth? When you close your mouth, are the top teeth lined up with your bottom teeth? Are any of your teeth crooked or not in the right place? Are there any missing teeth? Are there any other problems like a breathing problem, or a problem with the joint in your jaw? After the orthodontist looks at you, he will determine you need braces.