Braces are a common treatment option for fixing misalignment in the teeth or jaw. In fact, the Canadian Association of Orthodontics reports that more than 4 million people wear braces in Canada and the United States alone.
We all know what braces are, but many people still believe that they’re just for teens. However, more and more Canadians of all ages are receiving orthodontic treatment, with about 25% of these people being over the age of 21.
The truth is, your orthodontist can move healthy teeth at any age. But how do braces even work? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how braces aid in straightening your teeth.
Why Do People Get Braces?
Braces are so much more than just a cosmetic procedure, and some of the benefits may surprise you. In addition, there are several other reasons why someone may choose to undergo orthodontic treatment. Some of these reasons include:
Confidence & Mental Well-Being
Our smile is an integral part of our looks. If you’re self-conscious of your smile, braces can help you achieve the look you’ve always wanted, and hopefully, you’ll be more likely to show off your smile more often.
Studies have shown that smiling has surprising benefits that affect our mental wellbeing. Some benefits of smiling include:
- Your body releases “happy” hormones like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin
- You can make the people around you feel good, which can improve your relationships
- It can help to relieve stress and lower your heart rate
- You may live longer
Improved Oral Health
In addition to increasing your self-confidence and overall well-being, straight teeth are also less prone to decay and injury. Straight teeth simply function better and are easier to clean, lowering your risk for cavities and gum disease.
Straight teeth can also:
- Decrease the likelihood of bad breath as there are fewer areas for bacteria to get stuck
- Protect your teeth from damage
- Correct your bite, making everyday tasks like eating or talking easier
What Happens If I Don’t Get Braces?
If you have misaligned teeth and don’t receive treatment, it increases your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and bone destruction. Bad alignment can also cause other issues such as chewing and digestive difficulties, speech impairments, damaged teeth or other dental injuries.
How Do Braces Work?
Braces move your teeth by compressing and stretching the ligaments on the other side of your teeth for extended periods. When these ligaments are compressed and stretched, it puts pressure on your teeth.
With this pressure, your teeth will slowly start to move in a specific direction. Bone-creating cells called osteoblasts help add new bone around the tooth, holding it in its new place.
Braces: Their Components & Uses
The typical components that make up braces include brackets, archwires, bonding material, ligature elastics and spacers. All of these parts work together to move your teeth and align your jaw.
The brackets are the tiny “links” that attach to each one of your teeth.
The bonding material is essentially a “glue” that fastens each bracket to the tooth.
An archwire is a long, thin piece of wire that connects the brackets. It is designed to help pull your teeth in towards one another.
These are the elastics that go around each bracket. These are tightened and changed during each orthodontic appointment, and you even get to pick the colour!
Sometimes orthodontists will use spacers to create space in between your teeth if your mouth is too crowded.
The Process of Getting Braces
Although every patient’s treatment will be unique, the overall process is generally the same for everyone. A typical braces procedure follows this guideline:
Initial Consultation with an Orthodontist
To get an appointment with an orthodontist, you will need a referral from your dentist. During this initial consultation, your orthodontist will:
- Examine your teeth and dental x-rays to determine if braces are right for you
- Take impressions of your teeth
- Begin planning your treatment based on your impressions and specific needs
After your orthodontist has made a treatment plan for you, the next step is getting your braces placed, which takes about 1-2 hours. During this appointment, your orthodontist will:
- Clean and condition your teeth
- Prime your teeth for your braces
- Attach the brackets to your teeth using bonding material
- Attach the arch wire to the brackets, and fasten using ligature elastics
- Go over the care and maintenance required for your braces
Adjustments & Checkups
After the braces are in place, you will need to see your orthodontist every 4-10 weeks for adjustments and checkups. During an adjustment, your orthodontist will:
- Check your progress and ensure that your braces are working properly
- Inserts a new wire into the brackets and adjust the elastics to continue to move your teeth in a specific way
Getting braces doesn’t hurt during the appointment, but you may experience soreness for the first week you have braces as you adjust and for a few days after each adjustment. This soreness is entirely normal, but you should discuss any concerns you may have with your orthodontist.
What Happens After You Get Your Braces Taken Off?
Once your orthodontist removes your braces, your teeth are no longer held in place. Although they are held in place by the bone under your gums, you will most likely receive a set of removable or fixed retainers to wear until the bone heals completely.
Over time, your teeth will still have some natural movements, but your teeth shouldn’t move back to their original positions.
Braces are one of the most common treatment options used to straighten the teeth and align the jaw. They can be suitable for any age, as long as your teeth are healthy.
Braces are a highly personalized treatment, and your orthodontist will work with you to determine the best plan for you.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact us today!