Braces have an ancient and surprisingly intriguing history. Archeologists estimate that the use of braces dates back to as early as 1000 B.C.! Not surprisingly, many early attempts at teeth straightening were more “miss” than “hit.” Luckily, today’s braces have not only mastered the art of creating a beautiful smile, but they are so unobtrusive you may forget they are even there! In this post, learn more about today’s modern braces and gain an overview of the signs that indicate braces might be needed.
About Braces Today
The first thing to know about braces today is that you have many options. Your family orthodontist can do an initial evaluation to determine the best fit among all available options. Here are the your options for teeth straightening using braces today:
- Metal braces. Metal braces are the most historically “traditional” of all the options you have for teeth straightening. But today’s metal braces take up only the smallest amount of space in your mouth. They are designed to be comfortable and attractive. Today’s metal braces are made of medical grade stainless steel.
- Clear ceramic braces. Many adults favor clear ceramic braces because they are even less noticeable than modern metal braces. These braces are constructed from clear ceramic so even though they are attached to the front of your teeth, they remain unobtrusive in sight and feel.
- Invisible braces. Invisalign is the most popular brand of invisible braces. These braces actually work through a series of aligners (similar to retainers or mouth guards) that are adjusted as teeth begin to move into alignment. There are two types of Invisalign – regular Invisalign and Invisalign for teens. Invisalign is increasingly popular because the aligners can be taken out for eating and cleaning the teeth and for special occasions.
Why Get Braces?
Braces offer many cosmetic benefits, but the most important and impactful benefits they provide are for health. So while your family orthodontist may recommend braces to address cosmetic concerns, the real underlying reason for the recommendation is to safeguard oral health, which can impact whole body health. Here are some of the most important ways braces can safeguard oral and overall health:
- Cuts down on risk of decay and disease. Straightening the teeth makes them easier to clean and cuts down the threat of bacteria build-up that can lead to decay and periodontal disease.
- Less pain in jaw and mouth. Poor bite alignment can cause more serious issues such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), migraine headaches and degradation of jaw joints from clenching and grinding teeth.
- Reduction in risk of injury. Protruding teeth are more prone to cause injury to sensitive tissues and to be injured in falls and accidents.
- Contributes to improved tooth, gum and mouth health. Teeth will be healthiest when they are straight and firmly aligned in the mouth.
Signs to Look For That Braces May Be Needed
Braces offer an effective short-term treatment to correct a problem that would otherwise worsen over the long term. As such, it is important to keep an eye out for signs that braces may be needed. Here are some common signs to watch out for – if you see any of these signs developing, it may be time to make an appointment with your orthodontist:
- Upper teeth extending far out beyond lower teeth. Called an “overbite,” this condition puts you at greater risk for injury and accident as well as continuing bite misalignment and jaw pain.
- Lower teeth extending up and over upper teeth. Called an “underbite,” this condition can cause dental health issues, speech impairment and jaw pain.
- Upper teeth covering lower teeth. Called a “deep bite,” this condition can cause wear and tear on the backs of both sets of teeth, which can corrupt the enamel and lead to decay and worse.
- Gaps between the teeth. If you notice gaps between the teeth and especially if they seem to be widening, this indicates rapid tooth movement that should be treated.
- Teeth that overlap. When your teeth get too crowded for space, they can start to overlap with one another and this can cause serious dental health issues including enamel erosion, risk of decay and bite misalignment.
- Pain or difficulty in chewing. Feeling like it is painful or difficult to chew can be an indication of bite misalignment.
- Jaw pain between meals. If you are experiencing jaw pain even when you are not eating, this can indicate bite misalignment or issues with grinding or clenching that can lead to TMJ.
- Obvious bite issues. If your teeth feel like they “shift” or move to one side when you bite down directly, this may indicate a bite misalignment.
- Habits like thumb-sucking which persist. If you have a child who has reached the age of six and is still persistently thumb-sucking, this may indicate a bite issue.
What to Expect After Braces
After the braces come off, the next phase is called post treatment care. Typically, both permanent and temporary retainers are then offered as a form of maintenance so teeth stay in their new aligned positions. Often permanent retainers are placed behind the lower teeth and the patient is given mouth guards to wear at night and for additional time (typically for at least 12 months) to ensure teeth do not move again.
It is very important to follow your orthodontist’s post treatment care instructions to the letter to protect the investment of time and finances that braces treatment represents. As well, the younger the patient, the more probable it is that teeth will continue to move as the body grows and develops towards adulthood. So wearing the mouth guards and following all instructions for teeth cleaning, flossing, orthodontic check-ups and mouth care will make the difference in your final result.
For more information about the types of treatment available for teeth misalignment, contact King Orthodontics to schedule an appointment.
Samuel B. King, D.D.S., M.S. – King Orthodontics – Specialist in Orthodontics for kids, teens and adults in Centerville and Fairborn.