Know all about Dental Braces
Created by Dr.Sonali Bassi Updated on Jun 06, 2013
The branch of dentistry that deals with patients who need correction of bite as well as alignment of teeth is called Orthodontics and the specialist who deals with this is called the Orthodontist.
Rekha a neighbor of mine found this out the hard way. One day when her 8 year old daughter came back from school she looked upset, after much cajoling; rekha found out that some children in her daughter’s school bus had given her nicknames like Bugs bunny and rabbit teeth because of the way her teeth looked. That is the day rekha came to me with her daughter and together we decided to give little Kyra the best set of pearly whites and an awesome smile to go with it. Children can be especially insensitive when it comes to issues like distorted teeth and the torment that follows through the childhood may have a long lasting effect on a child.
In what situation does one need a dental brace?
Braces or orthodontic treatment is needed to correct bite problems, overcrowded teeth, protruding teeth and gaps in between teeth. In some cases a child may not reflect a dental problem visually (alignment of the teeth looks good) but may have a bite problem which if not corrected can lead to severe dental problems at a later stage in life.
This can be evaluated by taking your child for his routine dental health check ups. The ideal age for a child to be evaluated for orthodontic treatment is 7years.
A further classification of a bite problem may help one understand the problem better; following are the type of bite problems that one can experience:
1.Cross bite: In this situation, the lower teeth are overlapping the upper set of teeth.
2.Over bite: In this situation, the upper teeth cover the lower teeth and when the overlap is more than 2-3mm then it is called “Severe Overbite”
3.Open bite: In this situation, a patient may have a gap when joining the upper and lower sets of teeth.
Early treatment in all the cases mentioned above can regulate the width in upper and lower dental arches, gum space for permanent teeth, reduce the need for permanent teeth extraction later on in life, reduce likelihood of permanent impacted teeth, correct thumb sucking (in some cases) and tongue thrusting thereby reducing speech problems.
Basically early treatment may be a better idea than dealing with bigger problems later in life.
How does a Dental brace work?
Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic and acrylic (plastic). They may be removable or brackets bonded to teeth. By placing a constant and gentle force in a carefully controlled direction braces slowly move teeth to an ideal position.
Treatment time generally is 1-3 years depending on growth of patient and severity of problem. Additional appliances like headgear can also be given to the patient for successful results. (Depending on the age and growth pattern of the patient the total time for the orthodontic treatment may vary between patients)
Oh My God!! Will the Braces hurt?
This is the most common perception that most patients have but let me clarify that it does not hurt to get braces on your teeth but it may definitely cause some discomfort and pressure. This feeling of discomfort generally settles couple of weeks. During the initial few days the teeth may feel sore and in some cases the brackets might rub the inside of the gums and lips causing mouth sores at times but fortunately it all settles down soon.
In such cases your dentist may prescribe a painkiller and a mouth gel to soothe down the initial discomfort. Dental wax can be put over the braces to further bring down discomfort if any.
Believe it or not, in a few months braces would not bother you at all.
What are the important things to keep in mind while the Treatment is underway?
A couple of things to be kept in mind very strictly while the orthodontic treatment is going on are:
1) Brushing the teeth after every meal. It may sound like a big pain but it is important because food can get stuck between the brackets and causes bad breath and tooth decay.
2) Avoid biting on apples, carrots and hard nuts. Even foods like popcorn, hard bread crusts, seafood like crabs can damage the braces. Using a fork and knife to eat the fruits after cutting them may be the ideal way.
3) Avoid food and drinks that contain excess sugar as they cause rapid growth of bacteria in your mouth.
4) A protective mouth guard is important if playing contact sports.
What one needs to do incase of loose wire/band?
Do not be alarmed if a wire or bracket comes loose. This happens occasionally. If the wire protrudes and is irritating or pinching use a blunt instrument like the back of the spoon or eraser end of the pencil and carefully yet gently push the irritating wire under arch wire to get it out of the way. An emergency appointment can be made if there is severe pain because of a loose band or a broken wire sticking out that you may not be able to take care of on your own.
If there is irritation to the lips or inner surface of the mouth apply dental wax to the loose wire or band.
What is a Retainer? Is it Important?
As the name suggests, it is a removable appliance that is given to the patient to wear after the braces are off and is meant to retain the result that the dentist has achieved with the fixed braces by applying no active forces. This is made by the dentist by taking an impression of your teeth and then making a mold to exactly fit your newly corrected teeth. Most orthodontic treatments go into failure/relapse if the patient does not wear their retainers.
The retainers are actually the most important phase of the treatment, they should be worn for at least 6 months after treatment or go by whatever your dentist suggests. A retainer may be made up of acrylic and wire depending on the case and the patient.
Important tips for the retainers:
1) Retainers should be worn full time until doctor advises otherwise.
2) Retainers should be taken out while eating and always kept in a case. Most retainers get lost in school and restaurants. I once had a patient who said that his dog ate his retainers! ?
3) Retainers must be cleaned thoroughly everyday.
4) Initially one may find it difficult to speak hence practicing to speaking and read aloud may help in getting used to them faster.
Lastly, I want to add that there is no age limit for braces. When one thinks of braces, one would naturally associate them with children and teenagers but an increasing number of adults are getting braces too. As long as ones teeth and gums are healthy, one could benefit from getting the teeth aligned and bite corrected. In cases of gum recession or bone loss in the gums it may not be advisable to go for braces as the pressure they will put on the gums could have unfavorable complications.
Today, orthodontic treatment is much comfortable than what it used to be earlier. Braces are smaller, better quality and technology helps in reduction of discomfort and brings about wonderful and esthetic results. In the end all you have to do is smile and keep smiling!!
Someone has rightly said 'A smile is a curve that sets everything straight'!
| Jul 03, 2013
This was very informative, we were contemplating on whether to treat her with braces at such an early age, she has overlaping teeth along with teeth jetting outward, she is 8 years old and now we can plan on taking her to an orthodontist as also suggested by my family doctor. Thank you Dr. Sonali for your article
| Jun 13, 2013
Orthodontic treatment can be started before milk teeth fall sometimes in case we are giving some kind of appliance to the patient. The appliance could be for bite opening or habit breaking .so sometimes we can start treatment as early as approx 9 - 10 years subjective to the case.
| Jun 10, 2013
We should apply home made ghee on the gums instead of any other medication.
| Jun 10, 2013
Can we start dental treatments before the milk teeth (esp the canines and premolars) have fallen off?
| Jun 08, 2013
I was told by my dentist that the treatment starts after 11 years ..is that true
| Jun 07, 2013
My kids have been regularly monitored by our dentist and an orthodontist on whose advice periodic extraction of teeth has led to a relatively shorter duration of wearing braces.