If you wear braces — or are considering them — you are in good company. There are over 4 million Americans currently wearing braces, and one-quarter of those are adults. If you have a misaligned bite or teeth that are not in their correct places, this can put undue pressure on areas of your mouth that can set you up for serious problems later in life.
Braces are a smart way to correct crooked teeth to give you a beautiful smile and help you avoid those complications down the line.
Simply put, braces are simply dental tools that are used to reposition your teeth over time. The type of braces recommended by your orthodontist will depend on other conditions in your mouth, such as an underbite, overbite, or any number of other tooth, mouth, and jaw issues.
When most people think of braces, they picture the traditional metal brackets that sit on each tooth. An archwire that goes through the brackets puts the right amount of pressure on teeth and your jawline, while elastic bands connect the archwire to the brackets. As your teeth move into position, your orthodontist will adjust or tighten the wire and change out the elastic bands.
Other types of braces exist beyond the traditional metal types, such as:
It is important that you listen to your orthodontist’s guidance when it comes to choosing alternatives to traditional metal braces. Certain jaw and tooth alignment issues cannot be corrected using some of these options or could take a much longer time to complete your treatment plan successfully.
Finally, when your treatment is complete, you will be given a retainer, an appliance that is used to keep your teeth from shifting out of their new position. Typically, you will wear your retainer for four months to one year after completing orthodontic treatment to ensure your teeth stay in their corrected position.
In short, braces move your teeth through pressure. By using gentle, constant pressure over time, braces can cause the shape of your jaw to adapt.
This occurs because beneath your gums you have a membrane, surrounded by bone, that actually attaches your teeth to your jaw. Because this membrane is the structure that controls tooth position, it is the structure that is targeted by the pressure of the braces appliance.
Most people experience soreness or tenderness after having braces installed and then for a few days after every adjustment appointment as your jaw gets used to the increase in pressure. There are several elements to the braces that each play a part in straightening your teeth:
At your initial appointment your teeth will be cleaned and dried before brackets — whether stainless steel, plastic, or ceramic — are glued onto the surface of your teeth. The brackets will be connected with wires that will produce the even pressure necessary to realign teeth.
Once brackets are in place, elastic bands — also called ligatures or O-rings — are placed around the brackets. These add to the pressure on the jawline.
These wires, made of copper titanium, stainless steel, or nickel titanium, are used to connect all the brackets and apply pressure to your teeth to move them.
These metal parts are attached to molars to anchor other parts of your braces together at one spot. This makes it easy for your orthodontist to control the tightness of braces from one area.
Sometimes, your orthodontist will place coil springs on the archwires to target two teeth. These springs press the teeth apart to add space.
With modern braces, headgear is rarely used and when it is, it is usually only worn at night. Headgear attaches to your braces and adds extra pressure for faster or more significant corrections.
As your braces are putting steady, even pressure on your jaw and teeth they are slowly moving into the desired position. To keep track of progress and ensure that everything is working according to your orthodontic treatment plan, you will have monthly appointments with your orthodontist.
During these appointments, your orthodontist will observe the changes in the position of your teeth and jaw and make adjustments either to your rubber bands, springs, or wires to make sure progress continues to be made at the proper rate. If teeth are not moving according to plan, your orthodontist may suggest other corrections such as headgear.
If you have issues with tooth or jaw alignment and are ready to achieve your perfect smile, braces are the perfect tool for the job. At See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics, we have the latest tools, technologies, and experience to help you get the smile you want faster and with less effort than every before.
If you’re in Santa Barbara, please feel free to call us for a consultation. Understanding your treatment options will put you one step closer to your smile goals!