All About Braces
THE BENEFITS OF HAVING BRACES
There are two reasons to get braces: to improve your smile, or to correct a bad bite. Improving your smile is an aesthetic change, but improving your bite is a medical one.
Braces can not only realign the teeth themselves but subtly reshape the jaw as well. This makes everyday tasks such as chewing and eating a lot easier. It can also make other restorative work a lot simpler and cheaper. Additionally, these changes can help prevent problems such as sleep apnea.
BRACES FOR CHILDREN
Children can get orthodontic treatment around the age of seven to eight years old. This is around when their permanent teeth are starting to arrive. Children’s orthodontics are usually centred around correcting malocclusions, overbites, underbites, or teeth crowding.
By around 11-13 years of age, the permanent teeth have finished arriving and this is often an ideal time to begin orthodontic treatment.
BRACES FOR ADULTS
While orthodontics are traditionally seen as a young person’s procedure, adults can and often do require braces. This can be for a variety of reasons.
Most commonly, it’s because they did not receive the necessary orthodontic care in their adolescents. Less frequently, it can be because teeth continue to move as we age, which can result in problems later in life.
Injuries, diseases, and reconstructive work to the jaw can also require the use of orthodontics in adults.
Traditional braces use metal wires and brackets to realign the teeth. These are the big, “mouth full of metal” braces usually associated with orthodontic work. Traditional braces remain the gold standard in orthodontic treatment for their reliability, predictability, and effectiveness.
There are variations of traditional braces that straddle the line between “traditional” and aesthetic. For example, ceramic braces replace obvious metal brackets with ceramic ones. White wires are used to make the wires less obvious. They provide all of the same benefits in a much more discrete system.
Aesthetic braces are designed to be as discrete as possible. These include technologies such as the above-mentioned ceramic braces or “lingual” braces. Lingual braces are placed on the tongue-facing or “lingual” side of the teeth. This keeps them completely out of view from the outside world.
There are also emerging technologies such as corrective aligners that do away with brackets and wires altogether. Invisalign is perhaps the most well-known, using a series of clear, custom-made plastic aligners to gently move teeth into position.
ADVANCES IN BRACES
Lately, there has been a lot of interest in developing new, “fast” orthodontic options. These aim to reduce the treatment time from the usual 12-24 months into a more manageable 6-18.
Some of these systems are specifically designed for aesthetic realignment of the front teeth and are not true corrective procedures. Others claim to be able to fully realign malocclusions with drastically reduced procedure times.
As stated above, clear aligner technology is also becoming progressively more popular and affordable. Systems such as Invisalign are taking over as ideal options for professionals and public personalities.
Young or old, traditional or aesthetic: braces form an important role not just in the aesthetic correction of smiles, but in the medical correction of poor jaw development.