The luckiest ones are born into the world with straight teeth that fit naturally together. They never get to experience the rite of passage of visiting the orthodontist and wearing dental braces. Nor do they get the chance to know the thrill of the dental retainer.
It’s the rest of us who must struggle with teeth that come in crowded, uneven, or with odd spaces in between. Dental braces are an uncomfortable but welcome solution.
Dental braces over the years have brought millions of smiles into alignment, contributing to vastly improved dental health as well as supporting self-esteem by restoring a beautiful smile.
What are Dental Braces?
Dental braces provide a solution to jaw problems such as overbites and underbites that could cause discomfort and make eating difficult. They also provide cosmetic improvements that set the stage for a lifetime of dental health.
The magic of dental braces consists of wires, brackets, rubber bands, and pressure. Together these components make up a “dental appliance” that slowly, almost imperceptibly, pulls your teeth back into line.
In some cases, dental braces need a little extra help, so a patient may also be asked to wear headgear, usually at night, that brings a little more force to bear in realigning teeth.
There are other types of braces, such as invisible aligners, that work in less severe cases. But the most common type of dental braces remains wires, brackets, and rubber bands.
How Braces Work
Dental braces work by applying the principles of time and pressure. Through a steady push or pull, your teeth move gradually into place according to your dentist’s treatment plan.
The components of braces work as a system. Orthodontists can ratchet up the pressure by tightening the wires between the brackets. Sometimes your teeth need some extra help, which comes from rubber bands. Depending on where and how you attach the bands, your teeth will move into their desired location.
None of this happens overnight, of course. Braces work over time, sometimes over years, and require recurring visits for adjustments.
The Case for Braces
Why would you need dental braces? There are many reasons, but some of the most common are:
- The mouth is crowded with too many teeth
- Crooked teeth
- Irregular spacing — not enough, or too much
- Overjet – when your upper teeth stick out
- Overbite/underbite – when your jaws are misaligned
- A negative sense of your smile
Your first step in seeking care is choosing an orthodontist. A referral from your general dentist may help. Once you find the right orthodontist, you can work him or her to provide both dental braces for adults and dental braces for kids.
You’re not immediately done when you get your dental braces removed. Your teeth will want to shift back to their “normal” positions. So you’ll typically also have to wear a dental retainer and given instructions for wearing it over a certain period — overnight and during the day.
You’ll still be visiting the orthodontist during this period for regular check-ups, both to make sure that your treatment is holding or to address discomfort. But have faith: Before too long, the process will be over and you’ll be able to move on with a beautiful smile.
All Lined Up
Dental braces provide an important service in support of our health. Crooked teeth or misaligned jaws not only cause discomfort, but they can make it difficult to eat. Also, having either of those two conditions can leave you feeling poorly about yourself. The tools of dental braces may seem basic, but they have done wonders for millions of people over time. Don’t struggle with your bite any longer — call your dentist to begin the process today.