Why Should You Get Braces?
You may not realize it, but having proper jaw alignment and straight teeth are important for your overall health. Misaligned teeth are difficult to clean and maintain which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss. Other problems that can result from a malocclusion (bad bite) include difficulty eating, stress on the bone and tissue supporting the teeth, abnormal tooth wear, and temporomandibular disorders. Some of these problems can lead to face and neck pain and even chronic headaches. The cost of treating these problems far exceeds that of initially correcting the orthodontic problem. Finally, the most obvious benefit of orthodontic treatment is a beautiful smile; most people feel better about their appearance and are more self-confident after treatment is complete.
People of All Ages Can Wear Braces
Braces and Adults
Today, many adults are choosing to fix orthodontic problems that were not corrected as children or have arisen later. Over 20% of all patients receiving orthodontic care are adults. Because their jaws are no longer growing, surgery may be recommended in some instances. Moreover, adult patients may require periodontal treatment in conjunction with orthodontics due to breakdown of the bone and gums supporting the teeth. If there is bone loss, there may be limitations to the extent and direction that the teeth can be moved.
Braces and Children
It is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that children see an orthodontist by age 7 for an examination. If treatment is necessary, the orthodontist will determine the best time to begin. By age 7, incisors and the first permanent molars are typically present, and issues such as crowding, crossbites, and jaw alignment can be evaluated.
Treatment that is begun early can help to guide the jaws and teeth as they grow. Orthodontic treatment in childhood can also help coordinate width of the dental arches, maintain adequate space for incoming permanent teeth, and reduce the likelihood of permanent tooth impactions and permanent tooth extractions. Early treatment can also correct protruding teeth caused by thumb sucking, as well as speech problems, and swallowing abnormalities. In short, early orthodontic treatment can circumvent future potential problems.
What Kinds of Braces Are Available?
There are many types of orthodontic appliances available today. The orthodontist can help determine which kind is best for you. Some appliances are made of metal, while others are plastic or ceramic. Some types are completely removable and clear (such as Invisalign), and others have brackets bonded to your teeth for the duration of the treatment. All appliances do the same thing; they place a constant pressure on your teeth that move them slowly towards the correct position.
Wearing braces is less noticeable than it used to be. Brackets are now available that are clear or metal, and the ties that hold the wires come in a variety of colors. The wires themselves are less conspicuous and more efficient in moving the teeth and with less discomfort than in the past.
What is the Duration of Treatment?
Each person will differ in their treatment time, depending on the severity of the problem and the development of his or her teeth and jaws. Phase I is typically 6 months to 1 year. Phase II is approximately 12 to 18 months. Full comprehensive treatment (when no Phase I is indicated) can range from 1 to 3 years. Because individuals respond differently to treatment and jaws and teeth grow at different rates, the estimated treatment time may change. If the patient uses their prescribed elastics or headgear as directed and does not break or damage his or her braces, treatment time will be optimized, whereas poor cooperation can increase the treatment time.