Orthodontic treatment and braces are not just for kids.
It’s not only children who want a better smile.
Most adults get orthodontic treatment because they know that your smile is one of your most important features.
As you get older you want to keep a smile that makes you look good rather than haggard.
The fact is that many people did not get braces when they were young.
That may be because their parents could not afford it at the time or that their teeth could not be fixed with the techniques then available.
Now they may have problems with their teeth and gums or perhaps they get indigestion a lot or maybe they are just unhappy with their smile.
Now they have the money and the treatment they need is available so they are going to take advantage.
There are also many people who did have orthodontic treatment when they were younger but did not get the full benefits as they stopped wearing their retainers.
Even after wearing braces, their teeth may still be crooked.
Now up to a quarter of orthodontic treatment is on adult patients.
Orthodontic treatment goes slower when you are older, and it feels different.
But people as old as 90 are getting braces.
It’s never too late to take care of yourself and have a great smile.
Some people think orthodontic treatment is only for teenagers but truth is you can get it at any age.
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 at that age.
Permanent teeth usually come in around 12 or 13 and that is normally the best time to start full orthodontic treatment.
However some children as young as 4 start orthodontics early to avoid a problem later on.
You can get braces at any age but as you get older the treatment takes longer and hurts more.
By time you are 20, you may need surgery to expand your jaw. However, adults as old as 90 can get orthodontic treatment to fix crooked teeth.
Orthodontic treatment works best and is the least painful around ages 8 to 14 so it’s usually best to start orthodontic treatment that age.
Orthodontic treatment is used to correct a ‘bad bite’.
Bad bite – also called malocclusion – occurs when teeth are crowded or crooked.
Sometimes teeth may appear straight but, because the upper and lower jaws do not meet properly, you can have an uneven bite.
Jaw problems and teeth that are protruding, crowded or irregularly spaced can be inherited or may be caused by factors such as accidents or losing teeth prematurely.
Orthodontic treatment leads to a healthier mouth – and an important additional benefit is that it makes you look better by giving you a better smile.
When teeth are crowded or crooked, it is more difficult to clean the mouth properly.
This can lead on to tooth decay, gum disease and even loss of teeth.
When you have an improper bite, chewing and speaking can be more difficult.
This can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel and can lead to problems with the jaws.
Orthodontic treatment can therefore lead to improvements in your health as well as making you look and feel better.
While modern braces can be comfortable and inconspicuous, there are some extra steps you can take in your central hygiene to look after them better.
Firstly, you need to continue brushing your teeth regularly – your dentist will show you the best approach.
You should also continue flossing daily and making regular visits to the dentist.
When you wear braces, it’s especially useful to limit any snacks between meals.
There are also some foods that your dentist may advise you to avoid such as nuts, popcorn, hard candy, chewing gum or caramel.
Some of these may interfere with braces or accidentally bend the wires.
When you wear braces, you can still enjoy sports and other leisure activities.
Your dentist may recommend a protective mouth guard to cut any risk of injury to the mouth or jaw.
When you follow good oral hygiene practices, you can continue to wear braces comfortably while making a big difference to your smile and your dental health.
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.
Braces are devices which are used to straighten teeth, correct bite problems and fix irregular teeth.
They are made of three basic parts:
– Bonding (or band)
– Arch wire
The bonding is used to fix the brackets to the teeth.
The arch wire goes through the brackets and is held in place with small rubber bands.
The brackets and arch wire work together to move the teeth into new positions to straighten the teeth.
The arch wire works by putting pressure on the brackets to help move the teeth into the desired new position.
When pressure is applied to your teeth like this, they loosen slightly from the gums. Bone grows in to support the tooth in its new position but this takes time so the process needs to be done slowly.
That’s why you may have to wear braces for about two years and adjustments are only made every few weeks.
The arch wires work because they want to keep their original shape and will exert a great deal of pressure to do this. It is the combination of this aim of the arch wire and the person’s body heat that puts pressure on the teeth.
Braces are not always enough on their own to complete the task so the orthodontist may also use rubber bands or other devices to help pull the teeth in the correct direction.
After you have finished with the braces, you may need to wear a Retainer for a few months to hold the teeth in position until the bone has fully grown into place.
Most people get used to braces quickly and wear them for as long as they need to with no problems.
However, occasional problems can arise and taking the right steps enables you to resolve them quickly.
Here are some examples of problems that may arise.
Allergic Reaction: Some people can have an allergic reaction to the elastic or the metal used in braces. Alternative materials can normally be used so it is important to let your orthodontist know of any allergies.
Mouth Sores: There may be irritation due to some parts of the braces. This is more commons in the early stages but there are many products available such as oral rinses and dental wax that help heal sores quickly.
Build Up of Plaque: It is important to keep up your regular oral care routine of brushing and flossing to prevent food building up around braces as this can lead to build up of plaque which can cause tooth decay and bad breath.
Damaged Braces: Braces can be damaged if not cared for properly. Certain hard or sticky foods can cause damage as can mouth injuries when playing sports. If damage occurs frequently, it can mean the treatment takes longer.
Arch Wire Movement: If the arch wire becomes displaced, it can cause irritation and mouth ulcers. Dental wax helps but it is usually best to have the damage fixed by an orthodontist.
Discomfort: Pain and discomfort may occur after first installation and also after any adjustments but these usually pass quickly.