Today, people of almost all ages are benefiting from braces. Braces not only improve the look of teeth that are crooked or crowded. They can improve an irregular bite and correct jaw positioning and jaw joint disorders.
Braces are worn to apply pressure to and reposition the teeth, usually over the a few months to longer for more advanced cases.
To place braces, your dentist or orthodontist bonds brackets made of metal, ceramic, or plastic to your teeth. Then she places wires through the brackets, which guide the teeth into their correct positions. Sometimes, dentists can attach lingual braces to the backs of teeth, hiding them from view.
After your braces are attached -- and after each visit in which your dentist tightens your braces -- expect some discomfort for a few days. Also, regular oral hygiene becomes especially important while you are wearing braces.
Risks with braces are minimal. But people with allergies to metal or latex, or those who have periodontal disease, are at greater risk for problems during treatment. Root shortening is also a problem if teeth are moved too quickly.
An alternative for correcting minor spacing problems involves wearing a series of clear, customized appliances called aligners, or invisible braces. Your dentist will reshape and replace them about every two weeks to progressively move your teeth. Unlike traditional braces, aligners can be removed while eating, brushing, and flossing.
Often there are two phases to treatment with braces: wearing braces, and then using a retainer to hold your teeth in their new position. Retainers can be removable or permanently bonded in behind your teeth.
Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, bridges are used to replace missing teeth with artificial teeth. Bridges can be made of gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination. Dentists anchor them onto surrounding teeth after preparing them for crowns. Then a false tooth joins to the crowns and the bridge is cemented onto the prepared teeth. Only your dentist can remove a fixed bridge.
The success of your bridge depends upon its foundation. So, remember that oral hygiene to keep remaining teeth healthy is particularly important if you wear a bridge.