For many young adults, getting braces is a right of passage. This procedure has become increasingly common. While it is often regarded as a purely cosmetic procedure, dental braces can also serve therapeutic purposes. When used properly by a skilled orthodontist, braces can help align teeth, fix jaw problems and more.
It is possible to get braces at any age, but many children are encouraged to get an orthodontics consultation when their baby teeth have fallen out. At an orthodontics consultation, x-rays will be taken to get an accurate picture of the jaw, mouth and teeth. From these pictures and with an in-person examination, the orthodontist will be able to decide if dental braces are a viable treatment option.
While braces will straighten the teeth into a clean line, additional work can also be done to shift the jaw’s alignment. This process can be supplemented with spacers, headgear, rubber bands and other tools. Essentially, these tools are put into the mouth to train the teeth and jaw into the correct position. In many cases, spacers must be used prior to getting braces in order to make space for the equipment.
When it is time to apply the braces, the orthodontist will start by placing a band around the back molars. This metal band will anchor the braces. Next, brackets must be cemented to each tooth. When these anchors are in place, then the archwire can be connected from tooth to tooth. The archwire is held in place by rubber bands. These rubber bands can be fun and colorful. This initial process can take some time and be uncomfortable. Many people experience only mild discomfort.
Once the metal is cemented in place, ongoing treatment must continue. Most people will have regular orthodontics appointments. During these checkups, the movement of the teeth will be assessed. Typically, the wires must be tightened. After tightening, the rubber bands holding the wire in place will be replaced. By continually tightening the braces, it is possible for the teeth to move and the alignment of the mouth to change. This consistent maintenance is absolutely necessary for the success of dental braces.
Once the teeth and jaw have moved sufficiently, the braces can be removed. Most people must wear a retainer after that to keep their teeth from shifting out of place. While most people do not enjoy having braces, the end result is usually all smiles.