Dental Braces and Aligners: What They Treat & How They Work

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Dental Braces

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, orthodontic screening may begin as early as seven years old.

Although this may seem too early to get dental braces or aligners, it actually provides these professionals a chance to prevent situations that may require the use of such appliances in the future. Undergoing the pre-screening process also serves as a way to assess and diagnose already-existing conditions in a quest to correct them through various orthodontic treatments.

In this article, you will learn the different conditions that require teeth alignment and how orthodontic appliances, like braces and invisible aligners, work.

When to Get Orthodontic Treatment

The reasons why orthodontists recommend specific treatment or corrective procedure depends on the specific case. There’s no single formula that fits all.

Although orthodontists are the ones to perform the treatment, you or your loved one may hear all about the issue from a dentist. Here are some things you need to know regarding diagnosis and conditions that may require the use of dental braces or aligners.

Diagnosis

You should expect a visual evaluation of your orofacial health during your first appointment with an orthodontist. This entails a check-up of your teeth and facial structure.

From there, he should be able to determine whether you need to undergo a more thorough examination that may include x-rays and require access to your diagnostic records and models of your teeth. Once the orthodontist is satisfied with the information he has, he should be able to determine whether you require corrective measures and come up with a treatment plan.

Conditions

Most of the time, dentists recommend the use of braces to improve orofacial appearance. This covers the alignment of a person’s teeth and jaw. Among the common situations that merit the use of orthodontic appliances includes:

  • crowded or crooked teeth
  • overbites
  • underbites
  • misaligned jaw
  • disorders involving the jaw joints

Of course, deciding to have your teeth or jaw realigned can do more than improve your smile. In some cases, braces also help with speech impediments and improve teeth and gum health. It also helps prevent certain dental complications, such as:

  • Prevalence of cavities because of the inability to clean overlapping teeth
  • Fracturing caused by poorly positioned teeth
  • Chronic gum inflammation
  • Problems in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

5 Key Parts of Dental Braces and How They Work

The average time braces can be worn range from one to three years. This type of orthodontic treatment varies from one person to another, which means that the length of time needed to wear braces may change, depending on several factors, including:

  • The severity of the issue;
  • Gum and teeth health;
  • The distance of realignment;
  • The available space; and
  • How well the patient follows his orthodontist’s instructions.

Braces work by applying constant pressure for an extended period on the teeth and adjust how they are aligned. When the teeth move, the bone also changes its shape.

Below are the key components that comprise dental braces and the purposes they serve:

  1. Brackets

These are the small pieces of square-shaped components made using stainless steel, plastic, or tooth-colored ceramic that are attached to the tooth using a dental bonding agent. They serve as the handles that hold the archwires to move the teeth.

In the case of lingual braces, brackets are placed in the back of the teeth to keep them out of sight and prevent lisp that commonly comes with the use of braces attached to the front of the teeth.

  1. Orthodontic Bands

These are clear, stainless steel, or tooth-hued materials cemented onto the teeth using a special dental bonding agent. They are wrapped around each tooth and serve as an anchor for the brackets.

  1. Archwires

Archwires are part of dental braces that guide the movement of the teeth. They are attached to the brackets and serve as tracks that define the direction of the teeth realignment process.

  1. Ties

These are rubber rings or fine pieces of wire that keep the archwires attached to the brackets. They often come metallic or clear but can also be customized with different colors, depending on the patient’s preference.

  1. Buccal tube

The buccal tube is a part of the orthodontic band that secures the end of the archwires.

The Secret Behind Clear Aligners

Also called invisible braces, clear aligners serve the same purpose as traditional dental braces. However, this orthodontic appliance offers a more discreet option, with near-invisible appearance. Also, these devices can be removed, unlike braces that are affixed onto the teeth.

Like conventional braces, clear aligners also require you to visit your orthodontist regularly, with an average interval of between six and eight weeks. But, since these orthodontic appliances are molded from your teeth, they need to be changed every two weeks on average to accommodate the movement of the teeth and the level of pressure needed to achieve their ideal position.

Generally, invisible braces yield faster results compared to traditional braces. However, this will still depend on how well the patient complies with the required number of hours the devices should be worn. Also, it is worth noting that these oral appliances may not be applicable to everyone.

Orthodontic Aftercare

After the primary orthodontic treatment using braces or clear aligners is done, your orthodontist might also recommend wearing retainers if only to keep the teeth from reverting to their previous, problematic alignment. X-rays, bite impressions, and other tests may be conducted to determine the need for this. The growth of wisdom teeth may also affect the results.

Made from plastic and stainless-steel components, retainers work in the opposite way braces do: they prevent the teeth from moving rather than causing movement. In most cases, orthodontists require wearing retainers 24 hours a day within the initial six-month period following the removal of braces. After that, it may be recommended that they are worn during sleep.

The Takeaway

Remember that your orthodontist knows best when it comes to braces and invisible aligners. While information about these appliances is widely available online, you should always consult licensed experts when making crucial decisions for your oral health.

AUTHOR BIO

Dr. Zul Paliwalla is the General and Cosmetic British Dentist at NOA Dental Clinic, specializing in smile-related concerns. With over 33 years of experience in the UK, Dr. Zul has successfully worked on and improved many internationally recognized smiles. He is a certified Invisalign® GOLD provider as well and has brought his elite expertise to Dubai not only to enjoy the sun, sea and sand, but also to offer his brand of personalized smile makeovers.