Girl With Braces Smiling

What is “orthodontics,” and why do people get braces?

Orthodontics is a special discipline of dentistry concerned with aligning the teeth and jaws to improve one’s smile and oral health. “Ortho” means correct or straight, and “Odont” means tooth.

Braces are usually recommended to improve physical appearance. Through orthodontic treatment, problems like crooked or crowded teeth, overbites or underbites, incorrect jaw position, and disorders of the jaw joints are corrected.

When is the right time for braces?

Patients with orthodontic problems can benefit from treatment at nearly any age. An ideal time for placement of braces is between 10 and 14 years of age, while the head and mouth are still growing and teeth are more accessible to straightening. However, because any adjustments in facial appearance can be traumatic to a child during these sensitive years, parents should discuss the matter with their children before braces are applied. And braces aren’t just for kids. More and more adults are also wearing braces to correct minor problems and to improve their smiles.

What kind of braces will I have to wear?

Only an evaluation will show what appliance is best for your particular problem, but you often have choices. Braces generally come in three varieties: The most popular type are brackets, metal or plastic, that are bonded to teeth and are the most comfortable to wear. The “lingual” type of braces are brackets that attach to the back of teeth, hidden from view. Bands are the old-fashioned type that cover most of your teeth with metal bands that wrap around the teeth. All use wires to move the teeth to the desired position.

How long will I have to wear braces?

That depends upon your treatment plan. The more complicated your spacing or bite problem is, and the older you are, the longer the period of treatment, usually. Most patients can count on wearing full braces between 18 and 30 months, followed by the wearing of a retainer to set and align tissues surrounding straightened teeth. And then, continue wearing your retainer at night to keep those teeth in place for a lifetime!