Braces

Braces are a devices used in orthodontics to correct alignment of teeth and their position with regard to bite. Braces are often used to correct malocclusions such as underbites, overbites, cross bites and open bites, or crooked teeth and various other flaws of teeth and jaws, whether cosmetic or structural. Orthodontic braces are often used in conjunction with other orthodontic appliances to widen the palate or jaws, create spaces between teeth, or otherwise shape the teeth and jaws. Most orthodontic patients are children or teenagers, however, recently, more adults have been seeking orthodontic treatment.


How braces work

Teeth move through the use of force. The force applied by the archwire pushes the tooth in a particular direction and a stress is created within the periodontal ligament. The modification of the periodontal blood supply determines a biological response which leads to bone remodelling, where bone is created on one side by osteoblast cells and resorbed on the other side by osteoclasts.

A tooth will usually move about a millimeter per month during orthodontic movement, but there is high individual variability. Orthodontic mechanics can vary in efficiency, thus explaining a wide range of response to orthodontic treatment.


Procedure

The first step is to determine if braces are suitable for the patient. The doctor consults with the patient and inspects the teeth visually. If braces are appropriate, a records appointment is set up where X-rays, molds, and impressions are made. These records are analyzed to determine the problems and proper course of action. Typical treatment times vary from six months to six years depending on the complexity and types of problems. Orthognathic surgery may be required in extreme cases.

Teeth to be braced will have an etchant applied to help the cement bond to the surface of the tooth. A bracket will be applied with dental cement, and then cured with light until hardened. This process usually takes a few seconds per tooth. If required, orthodontic spacers may be inserted between the molars to make room for molar bands to be placed at a later date. Molar bands are required to ensure brackets will stick. Bands are also utilized when dental fillings or other dental work make securing a bracket to a tooth unfeasible.

An archwire will be threaded between the brackets and affixed with elastic or metal ligatures. Archwires in the past had to be bent, shaped, and tightened frequently to achieve the desired results. Modern orthodontics makes frequent use of nickel-titanium archwires and temperature-sensitive materials. When cold, the archwire is limp and flexible, easily threaded between brackets of any configuration. Once heated to body temperature, the archwire will stiffen and seek to retain its shape, creating constant light force on the teeth.

Elastics are used to close open bites, shift the midline, or create a stronger force to pull teeth or jaws in the desired direction. Brackets with hooks can be placed, or hooks can be created and affixed to the archwire to affix the elastic to. The placement and configuration of the elastics will depend on the course of treatment and the individual patient. Elastics are made in different diameters, sizes, and strengths.

In many cases there is insufficient space in the mouth for all the teeth to fit properly. There are two main procedures to make room in these cases. One is extraction: teeth are removed to create more space. The second is expansion: the palate or arch is made larger by using an expander. Expanders can be used with both children and adults. Since the bones of adults are already fused, expanding the palate is not possible without surgery to unfuse them. An expander can be used on an adult without surgery, but to expand the dental arch, and not the palate.

Patients may need post-orthodontic surgery, such as a fiberotomy or alternatively a gum lift, to prepare their teeth for retainer use and improve the gumline contours after the braces come off.


Post-treatment

Some patients find braces can be discomforting in the mouth, which can affect the post-treatment of patients with braces.

Retainers are required to be worn once treatment with braces is complete. The orthodontist will recommend a retainer based on the patient's needs. If a patient does not wear the retainer as recommended, the teeth might move towards their original position (relapse).

If a person's teeth are not ready for a proper retainer, the orthodontist may prescribe the use of a pre-finisher. This rubber appliance similar to a mouthguard fixes gaps between the teeth, small spaces between the upper and lower jaw, and other minor problems that could worsen. These problems are small matters that dental braces cannot fix. The pre-finisher is molded to the patient's teeth by use of severe pressure to the appliance by the person's jaw. The pre-finisher is then worn for the prescribed time, with the user applying force to the pre-finisher in their mouth for ten to fifteen seconds at a time. The goal is increasing the "exercise" time, time spent applying force to the appliance. Like the retainer, the pre-finisher is not a permanent addition to one's mouth, and can be moved in and out of the mouth.

Information Source: www.wikipedia.org

Procedure

Teeth move through the use of force. The force applied by the archwire pushes the tooth in a particular direction and a stress is created within the periodontal ligament. The modification of the periodontal blood supply determines a biological response which leads to bone remodelling.

Average costs

Typical treatment time is from six months to six years, depending on the severity of the case, location, age, etc., although two years is average. Treatment can be accelerated using novel planning and positioning techniques.

Typical cost of braces is about $5,000 in the US. Generally speaking, the price of tooth crowns increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover all the costs of the tooth crown procedure.   

Sometimes braces are required more than once if the retainer fails to keep teeth in place.

Customer quote

"I couldn't believe that after six and a half months everything was straight and perfect looking! I now wear a retainer (invisible type) just once a week when I sleep, and at some point it may only be once a month. I think for adults that are as impatient as I am, this is a great way to correct your smile."
-Michelle, California