The braces are one of the various treatments for correcting the crooked teeth or misaligned bite (an under-bite or over-bite). This is usually done by an orthodontist, who is specialized in correcting irregularities of the teeth. Before deciding the treatment plan for irregularities of teeth, the orthodontist enquires about the general health of the patient and conducts a clinical exam. Then, the doctor takes impressions and photos of the teeth as well as orders X-rays of the mouth and head.

Commonly two to three years are required foe successful treatment. After the braces are removed, patients need to wear a retainer all the time for the first six months, then only during sleep for many years.

According to the findings, the dentist decides which type of treatment is necessary. In minor problems, a removable retainer suffices for treatment and in rare cases like an extreme overbite or under-bite, surgery may be necessary. However, the most common and convenient way to do this is by fitting braces.

The purpose of braces is to apply continuous pressure on the teeth over a period of time to slowly move the teeth in a specific required direction. As the teeth move, the bone and soft tissues also change their shape.

Orthodontics is a specialty discipline of dentistry that focuses on alignment of the teeth and jaws to improve a person's smile and oral health
Types of available braces

The appliance specific for the needs of the patient is prescribed by the orthodontist. The braces include various appliances like bands, wires, and other fixed or removable corrections. The choice changes for individual patient.

Details of various components of braces

1. Brackets are the small squares which are bonded directly to the front of each tooth with a special dental bonding agent. They can also be attached to orthodontic bands. The function of the brackets is like a handle which hold the arch wires that move the teeth. The brackets can be made up of stainless steel, tooth-colored ceramic, or plastic. Sometimes, the brackets are cemented to the back of teeth, to hide them from view.

2. Bands- these are made up of stainless steel or tooth-colored materials. They are cemented to the teeth with dental bonding agents. Their function is to wrap around the tooth for providing anchor to the brackets. They are not used in all patients.

3. Spacers- these are separators for creating a small space for the orthodontic bands.

4. Arch wires- these attach with the brackets and act as a guide for the movement of the teeth. Arch wires can be made of metal or tooth-colored materials.

5. Rubber ring and or fine wires bind the arch wire to the brackets.

6. Buccal tubes hold the end of arch wires securely in place.

7. Other rubber bands known as ligatures also can hold arch wires to brackets.

8. Springs- they are placed on the arch wires between brackets to help in pushing, pulling, opening, or closing the spaces between the teeth.

9. Facebow headgear- it is the wire gadget used to correct the malpositioning of upper molars to eliminate bite discrepancies and also to treat crowded teeth. It consists of an inner horseshoe type metal part that goes in the mouth attaching to buccal tubes and an outer part connected to a headgear strap.

10. Mini braces are new smaller alternatives to braces used by the dentists.

Time required for braces treatment

The time required for braces depends on

1. Individual patient

2. Severity of irregularity

3. Space available for the teeth

4. Health of teeth, gums and jaw bones

5. The distance need to be travelled by the teeth

6. Compliance or regularity of wearing

Commonly two to three years are required foe successful treatment. After the braces are removed, patients need to wear a retainer all the time for the first six months, then only during sleep for many years.

Other important points

1. Orthodontist should be visited once a month to make sure the braces are exerting steady pressure on the teeth. If it is inadequate, some adjustments in the wires, springs or bands are made to create more tension on the teeth.

2. Mouth may feel sore or uncomfortable after some adjustments but it can be relieved by regular pain killers. If severe pain occurs, it should be informed to the dentist.

3. Sports can be played while wearing braces using a mouth guard for protection.

4. After braces are taken off, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned and fresh X-rays and bite impressions to check the results of the procedure.

5. The dentist fits retainers after the braces are removed. These are removable appliances that maintain the teeth in the new position. They need to be worn continuously for first six months and thereafter only while sleeping.

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