What are braces and what you need to know about them?

Almost everyone is now wearing braces, once a rite of passage for teenagers. As soon as children have all of their adult teeth, they get arrangements to instantly straighten them. Older adults wear metal for longer periods than teenagers as their gum tissues are more stringent. With a larger and larger portion of the population sporting the brackets, it is important to know a bit more about them.

In terms of who needs metal in their mouth and who does not, there is a range of orthodontic needs. Some groups only have over-bites or under-bites. Their teeth or jaws angle in or out more than they should. Others have teeth that are turned at uncomfortable angles or have not fully vented through the gum line. Still, other patients have critical gum alignment problems. All can be treated by orthodontic adjustments.

The most popular form of orthodontic adjustment happens by placing metal brackets on the teeth and joining differing angled wires through the brackets. The wires are connected to metal rings fastened to molars on either side of the jaws. This is what is generally referred to as having braces.

While plastic retainers are gradually regaining popularity, most people still opt for the quicker option of metal brackets and wires. Retainers are detachable. Most people turn into them after their brackets are removed. As a sole means of aligning teeth, plastic devices that can be taken out do the job more slowly. For a more active aligning method, equipment that stays on all the time is the way to go.

The addition of the metal pieces to the teeth takes a few hours. The molar rings are seldom put a week or two before the actual braces go on. This labors two purposes. First, it enables the patient to start getting used to the feel and taste of the equipment in his mouth. Second, it leaves the cement holding the rings in place to fully harden before they need to be used.

In the following application appointment, the particular tooth brackets are applied and the first wires are secured into place. The wires are held on the brackets by small rubber bands. For aesthetic reasons, the patient is allowed to choose his favorite color of bands. Seldom, the jaws need to be banded together to help move them.

Regularly, the patient returns to the orthodontist to have the old wire lifted and a new, tighter one put on. This method is repeated until all of the teeth and jaws are straight. The time between fixing appointments and the total time the patient needs to wear the apparatus differs. Normally speaking, the more flexible the gum tissue is, the more regular the appointments and the shorter the treatment time will be. Younger patients tend to have softer gum tissues than their older equivalents.

Although newer, somewhat less difficult products are now available, braces remain a popular means of aligning teeth and jaws. They need a lengthy application process and periodic appointments. Younger patients have more common wire adjustments and shorter treatment times. Older patients may have tightening appointments that are considerably apart. They might be stuck with metal in their mouths for a more extended time period.

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