Orthodontics (Braces)

dental-bracesDental braces are used in orthodontics to align and straighten teeth. Braces can also help position a person’s bite and improve dental health. Braces are often used to correct overbites, under bites, cross bites, crooked teeth and other various flaws of the teeth. Braces are worn for either cosmetic or structural reasons. Braces are often used with another dental appliance. This appliance is intended to widen the jaws or palate. Braces work by moving the teeth as a result of pressure and force. There are a variety of different braces available including traditional metal, clear, lingual, titanium, aligners and more. In wire braces the orthodontist will use bonding material, arch wires, ligature elastic and an “O ring”. The teeth will shift and move in a desired way by pressure that the wire puts on the brackets. In order to shift the teeth in a specific direction rubber bands may be used to aid the brackets. Braces apply a constant pressure which forces teeth to move. Movement is done slowly to reduce risk and allows the patients teeth to move gradually. Braces are commonly worn for upwards of two years, with adjustments being made on a monthly basis. Braces loosen the teeth allowing new bone to grow which will support the teeth in their new position. This is referred to as bone remodeling. Bone remodeling helps to make the bones stronger so that they can support the new positions of the teeth. Orthodontic mechanics vary based on each individual patient’s treatment plan.

Costs

The cost of braces varies greatly for many different reasons. The cost if a patient’s orthodontic work depends on the scope and length of time of treatment. The cost can also vary based on what type of braces the individual needs. In the United States the national average for braces in children is $4,500 and $6,000 for adults. The cost is also dependent on how many visits are required and if both arches are being treated. The typical amount of time that a patient has to wear metal braces for effective treatment is 12 to 24 months. Treatment can be accelerated using state-of-the-art technology. Many dental insurance companies will cover partial or full treatment, depending on the individual’s coverage.

The Procedure

An orthodontist will come up with a treatment plan designed specifically for your orthodontic needs. Orthodontic services can be provided by those fully trained in orthodontics. A dentist must complete two to three years of additional post-doctoral treatment in order to earn a certificate in orthodontics. The first consultation will include a visual inspection of the teeth, X-rays, molds and impressions. Digital models are also used which gives a three-dimensional digital model of the patient’s arches. The model is created by a laser-scanner which can be made into plaster models for dental impressions. In extreme cases orthodontic surgery may be required before braces. Some patients will require spacers and other orthodontic practices in order to get the teeth ready for braces. Spacers are applied two weeks before the braces are applied in order to make room for the bands. Braces use an adhesive that help the cement to bond to the surface of the tooth. Teeth are banded and then brackets are added. The brackets are applied using dental cement, using a specific light to harden them. Molar bands are also used so the brackets will stick. An archwire is then threaded between brackets using elastics and metal ligatures to hold it in place. The wires are bent and tightened at certain times to achieve the desired cosmetic effect. The braces are usually adjusted every five weeks in order to shift the teeth into the desired position. Dental braces are removed using a transparent power chain at the end of treatment.

Recovery

The recovery process begins as soon as you get your braces. They are designed to correct your bite and teeth, which may cause some discomfort and swelling at the beginning. It is important to follow your orthodontist’s dental care instructions. You will be asked to wear a retainer once your braces have been taken off which will prevent teeth from moving back to their original position. Some retainers are for temporary use and can be popped in and out of your mouth. Retainers may also be permanently glued to the back of the teeth on the top and bottom.

Follow-up

After your braces have come off your orthodontist will devise a follow-up plan to prevent your teeth from shifting back into their original position. This treatment plan will likely include a retainer which should be worn as instructed. If you notice any changes in your bite or any issues you need to discuss with your orthodontist schedule an appointment to go over your concerns.