Braces are used to straighten and align teeth. They can help to correct many orthodontic problems, and prevent problems further down the line. The brace works by applying continuous but gentle pressure to the teeth, which causes the teeth to slowly move. In order for the teeth to move into the desired direction, the braces need to be adjusted regularly by the orthodontist.
Braces are more effective in children and it is usually recommended to start the treatment at around the age of 12. However many adults are getting braces to correct misaligned and crooked teeth.
Whilst wearing braces, oral hygiene is extremely important as food can become easily trapped in the braces, which can lead to tooth decay. Some foods such as chewy or sticky food should be avoided. When the braces are first fitted, patients will usually experience some pain while the mouth adjusts, soft foods are recommended and cutting food into small pieces will help make chewing easier.
There are different types of braces which can be used and this varies with each patient. Some braces are removable and others fixed into place for the entire length of treatment. Removable braces generally tend to require less time than fixed braces.
Patients looking for invisible braces can consider getting lingual braces (which are hidden behind the teeth), ceramic braces (which are similar in color to natural teeth), and clear removable aligners or Invisalign.
Fixed braces usually need to be worn for 6 to 24 months, and in this time the orthodontist will need to adjust the braces every 4 to 6 weeks. For this reason, patients should be willing to travel many times, or have a dentist at home who can help with the follow-up care.