Dental braces are a common orthodontic treatment to correct irregular spacing, misalignment, “bad bite,” and crooked or crowded teeth.

While braces are commonly selected for aesthetic reasons, they are also beneficial to oral health.  Crowded teeth and abnormal bite can negatively affect chewing function and speech, and crooked teeth can cause difficulty with brushing and flossing, leaving an individual vulnerable to gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

Who can benefit from braces?

People of any age can benefit from dental braces to correct the issues described above.  Most often, however, braces are considered to benefit children and teenagers as the realignment will accompany their natural growth and development.

The recommended age range for best results is 8 to 14 years old.

Procedure

Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth to force proper alignment.  Dental brackets are cemented to the teeth to serve as an anchor.  Then a wire is connected to the brackets, which can be adjusted over time to guide the teeth into the preferred positions.

Braces can be worn and slowly adjusted for varying amounts of time depending on the severity of the dental condition.  A dental retainer is usually prescribed after the braces are removed to help maintain the new positioning of the teeth.  Some discomfort and pain are expected because of the pressure applied to the teeth; pain relievers are recommended to manage this discomfort.

Proper care

People with braces must be extra careful about oral hygiene as food and other materials can become caught and hidden in the apparatus.  It is important to avoid hard foods to avoid breaking or loosening a bracket or wire.  Dental waxes are available to protect the gums and mouth from irritation by the braces.

 

While it may be difficult to adjust to the braces initially, including difficulty eating and speaking, patients typically adjust within one or two weeks.