Braces are more than just a tool your dentist uses to realign crooked teeth. Many people who opt for braces go on to describe it as one of the best decisions they ever made, especially those who do so a little later in life. The self-confidence that comes with a smile that you are happy to show off is hard to describe – especially if you have previously gone through life trying to avoid people looking you in the face or self-consciously keeping your mouth tightly closed.
The importance of looking good is about more than mere vanity. Crooked or overcrowded teeth can have a genuinely debilitating impact on your life or that of your child. The reasons for wearing braces go beyond aesthetics, important though that aspect is.
Benefits Of Using Braces
Braces put your teeth into the optimum position to ensure correct bite and tooth alignment. As well as looking good and “right” to the eye, there are several additional side effects, including the following:
The phrase “correct bite” might sound like tech talk you hear in a dental clinic, but it means exactly that. Braces make sure your teeth do what they have evolved to do with optimum efficiency. In other words, your ability to chew food will improve, meaning enhanced enjoyment of your food and reduced risk of digestive difficulties.
When teeth are misaligned, they often obstruct the tongue during speech. Obstruction of the tongue can make it difficult to pronounce certain words or sounds, another consequence of crooked teeth that can be damaging to your self-confidence. Correcting the problem with braces usually alleviates the problem.
When the braces have done their work, you will find your oral health routine is much easier to follow. Brushing and flossing teeth that are crooked or overcrowded can be difficult and uncomfortable. It is easy to “miss bits”, and that leads to cavities, gum disease and other problems down the line.
What Types Of Braces Are Available?
Years ago, braces meant metal wires around the teeth and nothing else. If you walk into our Auckland dental clinic today, you will be amazed at various choices that are available in the 21st century. We will discuss the different options with each patient on a case by case basis, and choosing the correct type of braces depends on several factors. In brief, though, the different types include the following:
Removable Plates are usually associated with young children whose permanent teeth have yet to erupt. However, they can be used with adult patients too, to create more space in cases of overcrowding or to correct crossbites. These plates come in a choice of colours, from clear and invisible to the bright, sparkly fluorescent shades that are particularly popular with younger patients.
Metal Braces are the “traditional” braces with which we are all familiar. These remain the most common type for teenagers and children. As well as being highly effective, they have the durability to withstand the punishment youngsters tend to throw at them in day to day life. Conventional braces come with ligatures, which are elastic bands, which are available in various colours. Alternatively, there are self-ligating braces where these bands are not necessary.
Tooth Coloured Braces are made either of plastic or ceramic. They function in almost the same way as metal braces but are far less visible, making them a popular choice with adult patients. With these braces, all you can see is a single wire. The downside is that tooth coloured braces are less durable than metal braces, but are more expensive. One option is to exploit the best of both worlds, using tooth-coloured braces on the front, most visible teeth and metal braces elsewhere.
Invisalign uses custom-made plastic aligners that the patient wears over the teeth. These are changed every two weeks, gradually manoeuvring your teeth into the correct alignment over several months. You can change the aligners yourself, meaning fewer routine visits to your dental clinic, and the aligners are practically invisible. They also involve significantly less discomfort than conventional braces. These factors combine to make Invisalign one of the most popular methods for straightening teeth.
Common Questions For Braces
That varies from case to case. Some courses of treatment for minor corrections are done in three months, while others can be as long as three years in duration. The average treatment takes around 18 months.
Youngsters worry that wearing braces will prevent them from enjoying food, going to band practice, or even speaking clearly. In truth, braces will have little impact on enjoying day-to-day activities, although some adjustments might need to be made. Metal brace users should wear a mouthguard when playing physical sports, and those who play Woodwind or Brass instruments will find it takes a little getting used to – but braces do not preclude the wearer from any of these activities. Likewise, you will soon get used to speaking with braces.
There is inevitably a degree of discomfort to wearing braces, but this is mostly a feeling of pressure as they are doing their job and realigning your teeth. Beyond that, metal braces can cause some soreness and chafing, a problem that you do not experience with Invisalign. On the whole, any discomfort from braces is usually mild and something that you no longer even notice after the first couple of days.
On average, you will most likely need to come in and see your dentist around once every six weeks, but it could be a little more or a little less depending of the type of braces and the specifics of your case. It would be best if you also came in for your regular check-ups as usual.
Every patient is different, so it is impossible to answer that question in more than general terms. It depends on the type of braces, the severity of the case and how long the course will take. We will discuss all the options with you to come up with a solution that is appropriate but also cost-effective.
Any age at all! People often think they “missed their chance” for tooth alignment by not doing it as teenagers. Many of our patients are on the mature side! Adult patients tend to be ideal candidates for “invisible” options like Invisalign or ceramic braces. Provided your teeth and gums are healthy, you can wear braces at any age.
Yes, and you must do so, as developing gum disease or cavities while wearing braces can add complications to your course of treatment. You will soon get used to brushing while wearing metal braces, and your dentist will provide some tips on doing so effectively. If you have Invisalign braces, it is even easier, as you take them out for eating and brushing.