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Your Guide to Braces

Jul 17, 2014 - 08:07 AM EST |  Posted under: Orthodontics

There are many types of braces for kids and adults to choose from in the realm of modern orthodontics. There are traditional braces, made from metal and tightly adhered to the surface of the tooth with special glue. Newer versions, like clear or invisible braces, offer patients a bit more discretion as they pursue their orthodontic needs.

There are two types of clear braces: ceramic, tooth-colored braces and Invisalign braces, which are a clear plastic molding that fits the wearer’s teeth. There are also “invisible” braces, which are much like metal braces, but are adhered to the backside, or lingual side, of the teeth.

The choice of braces type is truly up to the patient or parents when pursuing braces for children. Invisalign braces, the clear molded plastic appliance that resembles a mouth guard, have become a popular option due to the added benefit of discretion. These braces do not prohibit the wearer from eating certain food or drinking certain beverages. Every two weeks, the wearer is fitted for a new appliance as the teeth are slowly molded into place with the pressure applied by the appliance. These braces often take longer to make adjustments to the teeth than traditional braces, but the length of treatment for any type of braces varies by the condition of the teeth prior to treatment.

How Braces Work

Correcting the position of the teeth often takes anywhere from six months to three years with any type of braces. The timeline is not only established by the condition of the teeth and the type of braces, but also the amount of pressure that is applied to the teeth throughout treatment. The orthodontist must carefully assess progress and tighten braces to exert just the right amount of pressure. Generally, most patients will see their orthodontist every two weeks or once a month to assess movement and make adjustments as necessary.

Your orthodontist may use wires, springs, or rubber bands to create pressure in just the right places. In some cases, greater pressure is needed and must be achieved by going outside the mouth. Pressure can be applied through the use of head or neck gear, often worn while the patient is sleeping. It is these varying types of pressure that ultimately achieve the desired result of straight, perfectly aligned teeth.

Caring for Teeth with Braces

With braces in place, regardless of which type, routine dental care is even more important. Brushing after each meal or snack must be a priority and investing in special brushes to clean deeply between brackets and wires is essential.

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