Dental braces (orthodontic braces or brackets) are devices used to straighten teeth, align upper and lower jaws, improve aesthetics of smiles and face or relieve pressure on temporomandibular joints (“jaw joint” that connects the lower jaw to the base of the skull. It has upper and lower joint compartments, filled with lubricating fluid (synovial fluid). Compartments are separated by disk shaped like a mushroom cap.) Poorly aligned teeth, tends to have more tooth decay, gum disease, and jaw joint problems, which can occur in children and adults requiring treatment. Most dental braces, correct malocclusions (misalignment of teeth and or when jaws and teeth are out of proportion to the rest of the face.), such as under-bites, over bites, cross bites and open bites or crooked teeth, flaws of teeth and jaw, which are corrected through cosmetic or structural branches. Braces provide the treatment for widening the palate or jaws, creating spaces between teeth or reshaping the teeth and jaw. Orthodontist (Ortho – means straight and -dontics means teeth) received two more years of additional dental education, which included treating patients with orthodontic braces. Mostly children and teenagers, seek orthodontic treatment, however increasingly adults are seeking the same type of treatment. Approximately four million people in the United States wear braces.
Dental braces correct crooked teeth. Attributing cause of crooked teeth is hereditary. Also, finger sucking, thumb or pacifer (beyond the age of six or seven), high cavity rate, gum disease, a trauma event or premature loss of baby teeth. One out of every five school age children have a severe bite problem, requiring the dental skills of an orthodontists for braces.
The earliest intervention recommending for orthodontic treatment ranges from three to twelve years old, because children’s teeth, and jaw bones more suitable to be molded, while the child is still growing. Once the teeth are aligned or facial profile is improved, teeth should remain stable throughout adolescence and adulthood. Sometimes, reinforcing the alignment after treatment requires wearing a retainer. After braces are removed, a retainer is worn usually at night, which keeps hold of the teeth in the new position, while surrounding gums and bones adjust to this new position. Teenagers having retainers maybe advised wear it, into their early twenties. Different types of retainers are available, based upon recommendation of an orthodontist. Also, retainers are available as luminescent, will glow in the dark. This encourages children or young adults to wear a retainer. By not using a retainer, will lose gains achieved, and money spend on orthodontic treatment.
An orthodontist will exam and evaluate a patient for braces, and may recommend either removable or fixed devices. Removable braces are worn for specified number of hours, in order to achieve desired results. Some removable braces are called “functional appliances,” because achieving maximum benefits when worn during eating. The patient should maintain accurate record of daily wear, proper care and worn securely but not loose. Fixed braces are usually metal bands cemented to molars, and metal brackets are directly bonded or glued to the enamel of the front tooth (incisors or bicuspids). The connection between the bands and brackets are stainless steel archwire. The steel archwire moves and strengthens teeth in particular direction. Sometimes, aligning the upper and lower jaw with rubber bands, that are worn at least 14 hours a day and changed twice during the day. Rubber bands, rings and brace wires are available in a variety of colors, which makes a patient feel more comfortable or stylish for wear. Additionally, a headgear is sometimes used to keep the upper jaw back into a position, as the lower jar grows to catch up. Patients using fixed braces must avoid eating crunchy or sticky foods, which can break braces or become logged inside. Usually there is some initial discomfort for two or four days, using orthodontic devices. Patients advised to eat soft foods, and if necessary, take aspirin or acetaminophen for pain relief. Orthodontist will provide soft wax, which can be applied to cover areas on the brackets, which may rub against cheeks, until getting accustomed to them. Application either fixed or removable orthodontic devices, treatment continues for approximately two to three years. Children between three to seven years old could require four to eight months to correct dental problems. Usually, children start treatment between seven to nine years old, and then treatment may discontinue, until permanent teeth are present. Between the time: fixed or removable braces are discontinued, children are given a retainer to wear. Oral hygiene is especially necessary, while wearing fixed braces, because these devices attract and collect food and plaque (Sticky and colorless layer of bacteria. When plaque becomes hard is called calculus, which can only be removed by dental cleaning). Recommended patients receive every six months dental cleaning by a dentist or hygienist. During or prior to wearing braces, the orthodontist will evaluate dental crowding in the mouth, and that may require extraction of any teeth. The space gap that remains is filled by another tooth by the treatment of dental braces. Average cost for braces in the United States is $5,000, however the cost maybe higher, depending on the extent of treatment or additional cost for X-rays, extraction’s or special appliances. Many dental insurance policies, including AmeriPlan USA, pay majority of the cost for dental braces (children and adults).
Those experiencing or diagnosed having temporamandibular syndrome (TMD or TMJ disorder), where by a patient has one or both jaw joints in bad positions. This may cause headaches, neck aches, ear – aches, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and especially popping sound near the jaw joint, when eating or difficulty opening mouth wide. TMJ symptoms increase along with severity, as one gets older. In the most severe case, the jaw temporarily locks – up into a position. Temporamandiular syndrome is most common in women or patients under 40 years old. At least ten million Americans suffer from TMJ problems. Dental braces can relieve TMJ problems, by realigning the jaws into a new position. This type of treatment is preferred compared to having surgery.
Those wearing metal brackets or wire braces, need to be aware, health problems may occur during oral sex. These devices may catch onto latex condoms, causing microscopic tears. Thus transmitting infectious disease or later causing unintended pregnancy. Recommend, after oral sex changing the condom. Also, during long or often kissing sessions, partner wearing braces may inadvertently, tear a small area of mouth tissue, which can expose the person’s blood to the other partner’s mouth. This may present a serious health concern, if the blood contains any pathogens (infectious agent), HIV/AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases.
Many orthodontists (70 percent of US orthodontists) are certified to offer to their patients Invisalign braces (developed by Align Technology, Incorporated and approved by Food and Drug Administration), which replaces the removable metal braces. Invisalign uses clear plastic aligner to position and straighten teeth or promoted as an invisible way of straightening teeth by fabricating aligners, designed using 3-D technology, from an impression taken of a patient’s teeth. These braces provide treatment for overbites, under-bites, cross-bites, and overly crowded or widely spaced teeth. However, any one of these treatments is contingent upon the evaluation by an orthodontist, if Invisalign would be most effective. These braces are worn at least 20 hour per day. Invisalign braces offer many advantages, including no metal to irritate the mouth, brushing and flossing without any problems or obstructions, eat any desirable foods upon removal of these braces, most people will be unaware someone is wearing these braces or seen in a photo, and fewer visits to the orthodontist. Patients are recommended to use retainers after treatment. Main disadvantage, Invisalign are more costly than traditional braces, depending on the course of treatment. Many orthodontists will not recommend this type of treatment for children or teenagers whose second molars have not erupted or protruded. In some situations, fixed braces are applied for short duration of time, before Invisalign braces are used for treatment. Some orthodontists will provide pictures of before and after, those patients that had received this type of treatment (Same for conventional braces). Similar to Invisalign braces is OrthoClear, providing Orthodontic treatments, and advantages like Invisalign braces.
The American Association of Orthodontists (401 North Linburgh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63141-7816, Phone: 314 – 993 – 1700 or Fax: 314 – 997 – 1745) provides information and answer questions regarding braces. Also, provide information for the nearest orthodontists, approved and trained to offer dental braces. You don’t need a referral to see an orthodontist, unless your insurance requires a primary care dentist.