Understanding how braces work

Braces are a traditional method of teeth alignment and fall under the category of dentistry know as orthodontics. Orthodontics can be described as a type of dentistry which addresses malpositioned teeth and jaws. Orthodontists are professionally trained in this field of dentistry to diagnose, treat, and prevent these issues. Braces are typically associated with teens who have their teeth aligned whilst going through puberty once they have lost all their baby teeth. However, braces can be used across all age groups to correct mis-aligned teeth. Although most people know what braces are, many are still unsure as to what they do and how they work. Here is everything you need to know. 

The different types of braces

Traditional Braces – The traditional braces most people imagine when they think of braces, are made up of brackets and wires which are fitted to the teeth. These brackets are tiny metal links, glued onto your teeth, the wires are then used to connect each bracket together. As these braces will be fitted to your teeth you will attend regular appointments with your orthodontist for check-ups. 

Clear Aligners – to avoid the noticeable brackets and wires of traditional braces, many people will opt for an alternative option such as clear aligners. These do not have to be worn permanently, they can be removed but for best results must be worn for a minimum of 20 hours a day, only taking them out to eat and clean. You will update the aligner every few months to impact the effect they have on your teeth, with results visible within 12-18 months. 

The Process of Teeth Alignment 

By placing gentle pressure on your teeth, a brace will gradually move your teeth into a position which corrects the misalignment. For each individual person, results may differ depending upon the severity of the issue. Your orthodontist will provide advice and guidance around what braces would be most suitable for you, maintaining a regular oral hygiene routine, and caring for your braces. While you are wearing your braces, you may feel a slight pressure on your teeth for the first few days after each appointment as the braces tighten to your teeth. This pressure is not exceptionally painful and will only last a day or two. Orthodontists recommend being cautious with what you eat and drink, although you do not have to cut anything out of your diet specifically. Once a final result has been achieved and the braces are no longer required, a whitening treatment may be recommended by your dentist to complete your new smile. 

Caring for your teeth after braces 

After your orthodontics treatment is complete, it is important to continue to take care of your teeth to ensure you maintain the results of your braces. Here are some tips:

  1. Book an appointment with a dental hygienist for a thorough clean and assessment of the health of your teeth and gum. 
  2. Try a whitening treatment, recommended by your dentist for shiny white teeth.
  3. Continue to wear your retainer as directed by your orthodontist and attend your follow up appointments.
  4. Master your at-home dental hygiene routine, ensuring to brush your teeth twice a day, floss, use mouthwash and avoid sugary drinks. 
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