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Children and Orthodontics

If your child has crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, it may be time to pay a visit to an orthodontist.

An orthodontist specializes in perfecting smiles using orthodontic appliances, such as:

  • bands
  • brackets
  • wires
  • headgear
  • rubber bands
  • retainers

WebMD takes a look at common forms of orthodontics and gives you the facts you need to make an informed decision about orthodontic treatment.

Types of Braces and Other Appliances

There are a number of dental appliances used today. But braces are still the primary means for straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites. Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth and jaws to move them into a desired position.

Braces are not the shiny mouthful of metal of years past. Many more options are now available.

Teeth used to be fully banded. But today, brackets are bonded directly to each tooth's surface. In some people they're placed behind the teeth, making them less noticeable.

Braces are made of materials such as:

  • stainless steel
  • ceramic
  • plastic
  • combination of materials

This can give a clear or tooth-colored appearance to the braces. When appropriate, the wires can be made of materials such as nickel-titanium or copper-titanium. These materials may be longer lasting and require fewer adjustments than stainless steel wires.

Clear, invisible "trays" are now available. These can straighten teeth without using traditional braces and wires.

Invisible trays may be an option for people who require simple orthodontic work. This method uses custom-made, clear, removable trays that put pressure on the teeth, moving them gradually into their correct position. This treatment is not right for people requiring more extensive orthodontic work. It often costs more than traditional braces.

Other appliances used in orthodontics include:

TADs: Temporary anchorage devices (TADs) are mini-screws ranging from 6 to 12 millimeters in length and 1.2 to 2 millimeters in diameter. When needed they may be temporarily fixed to bone in the mouth to provide a fixed point from which to apply force to move teeth. TADs allow for more predictable tooth control. They are becoming more common in orthodontic treatment.

Rubber bands: Rubber bands are also called elastics. They are used when more force is needed to move the teeth and jaws into the desired position. You can choose your favorite color. Many kids choose their school colors or decorate their mouth during holidays (for example, orange and black for Halloween).

Headgear: Some people can benefit from using headgear. The appliance is attached to the braces from the back of the head and can be removed. As with rubber bands, headgear are used when extra force is needed to move the teeth and jaws. If a headgear is needed, it usually only has to be worn at night while sleeping or at home.

Retainers: Retainers are used to keep teeth in place once braces are removed. It takes time for your teeth to settle into their new position. By wearing a retainer, you can prevent your teeth from shifting. Some retainers may be removable. Others are fixed -- bonded behind your teeth. Some retainers are made of clear plastic and metal wires. Others are made of rubber. And like braces, retainers can make a statement if you choose. There are glow-in-the-dark retainers or retainers customized with a picture.

WebMD Medical Reference

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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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