All you need to know about orthodontics and braces

Understanding orthodontics and how braces work shouldn’t give you a headache. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide that answers some of the common questions, including what orthodontic treatment involves, how braces work, and what the potential advantages and disadvantages are.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a dentistry speciality that provides diagnosis, prevention, and correction of misaligned teeth, jaws, and bite patterns (also known as malocclusion). Health professionals that specialise in orthodontics are called orthodontists, but dental surgeons also specialise in the field of orthodontics.

Dental surgeons and orthodontists will often work alongside an orthodontic auxiliary. Orthodontic auxiliaries are specialists in the implementation and management of orthodontic treatments.

What procedures are considered orthodontic?

Orthodontic treatments are dental procedures that help straighten teeth and correct problems with a person’s bite.

Examples of these procedures include:

  • Supervising facial growth (jawline and bite) in children
  • Creating treatment plans that include braces and retainers
  • Performing teeth straightening surgery
  • Installing orthodontic appliances such as braces, palatal expanders, or orthodontic headgear.

What is the first step in orthodontic treatment?

The first orthodontic appointment will usually involve assessing a patient’s teeth. This includes:

  • Looking into their medical and dental health history
  • Carrying out a clinical examination
  • Taking x-rays of the teeth and jaw
  • Making plaster models of the teeth.

Using the information collected, the dentist will then develop a treatment plan.

What is an orthodontic appliance?

Orthodontic treatments often involve using orthodontic appliances to straighten crooked teeth or to correct problems with the bite. Examples of orthodontic appliances include:

  • Traditional braces
  • Lingual braces (placed behind the teeth)
  • Self-ligating braces (use brackets and an arch-wire instead of rubber bands)
  • Invisalign (wires and brackets are nearly invisible)
  • Retainers (solid or braided wire curved to fit).

What are the common types of braces?

There are many different types of braces. The most popular and widely used type of braces remains the traditional metal ones.

Braces consist of a series of brackets attached directly to the teeth, linked by wires which work together to pull the teeth into their correct position. Over time, the orthodontist will tighten or loosen the wires, depending on what’s needed.

Lingual braces are similar to traditional braces, except they are attached to the back of your teeth, so they are hidden from view. The main advantage of getting lingual braces is that they achieve the same results as traditional braces, without the wearer feeling self-conscious.

Self-ligating braces don’t require elastics or rubber bands, as they use special brackets that help the arch-wire move and direct the teeth into their ideal place. There are two types of self-ligating brackets: active and passive.

Invisalign is a highly effective way of straightening teeth and correcting a smile. Instead of metal brackets and wires, you wear a clear plastic tray on your teeth that look like a retainer. The trays are changed every two weeks to suit the changing shape of your teeth. Best of all, they can be removed for eating and cleaning throughout the day.

Retainers consist of a wire that fits the new curve of your teeth. One is usually fitted after braces, to help keep teeth in their new position.

Which braces work the fastest?

How long treatment lasts depends on several factors, including the severity of the orthodontic problem, the patient’s age, and the treatment type. Typically, treatment can last between six months to three years.

While the speed of treatment is highly dependent on these different factors, experts generally agree that clear aligners are the quickest way to straighten teeth. This is because the trays are customised during the treatment, so they are constantly working to improve your teeth’s alignment.

What is the age limit for braces?

While getting orthodontic treatment at a young age is recommended, there is no age limit for getting braces. As long as you have healthy teeth, you may benefit from orthodontic treatment. More adults are now undergoing orthodontic treatment to correct issues dating back to their childhood, such as crooked or missing teeth, and achieving excellent results.

What colour is best for braces?

There are different ways that people choose the best braces colours for them. Some start with something low-key before gradually moving to brighter and more adventurous colours. Some people want to embrace their braces from the outset, so they opt for rainbow colours.

To help you decide what colours to choose, here are some considerations:

  • Gold, dark blue, pink, orange, turquoise, green, or violet compliment darker skin tones.
  • Light blue, bronze, dark purple, or subdued reds and pinks compliment lighter skin tones.
  • Darker shades can make your teeth look whiter.
  • Black can make your teeth look like they’re rotting.
  • Green or brown can be mistaken for food in your teeth.
  • White can make your teeth appear more yellow and white elastics tend to stain more easily.
  • Yellow tends to intensify the appearance of yellow-toned teeth.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of getting braces?

There are plenty of advantages to getting orthodontic treatment. It can help improve the appearance and condition of your teeth, as well as your bite. Straight teeth can prevent damage caused by a bad bite, reduce tooth wear and tear, and improve your mouth’s overall health and appearance. With the range of appliance options available, you no longer have to be embarrassed about wearing braces.

The most common disadvantages are the treatment time and costs. As with anything new, it can also take a while to adjust to wearing braces and learning how to take care of the appliance properly.

You’ll also need to take even greater care of your teeth and be sure to clean them properly every day. Watching your diet is also important, avoiding sugary foods and drinks in particular, as they can lead to white spots on your teeth, or tooth decay.

How Hamilton Dental Centre can help you with Orthodontics in Hamilton

Dr Dave Blom has been treating orthodontic cases for over 25 years. He can advise you on the best course of treatment for your particular circumstances, while working closely with our orthodontic team to deliver fantastic results.

Don’t delay, book an appointment today to see Dr Dave.

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