Tooth Tips for Later Life

How Dental Braces Can Help Your Teeth

Your dentist may recommend that you have braces fitted on your teeth for a variety of reasons. Your teeth may be crooked and unable to fit together correctly, or you may have unsightly gaps between your teeth. They may also be recommended to bring your teeth and lips into proper alignment or to correct an irregular bite. When applied for any of these reasons, you will have a healthier mouth and a more pleasing appearance.

Braces can either be fixed or removable. Technological advances in dentistry have improved the appearance and performance of braces. Modern braces are smaller and are made from transparent material which is clear and makes them less noticeable.

Natural looking ceramic braces are also now available. These tooth-coloured brackets can be attached to the front of the teeth and made to blend seamlessly with the rest of your teeth without anyone noticing. What's more, invisible braces called lingual braces can now be applied to the back of the teeth. These are even less noticeable than ceramic braces, which is why they are regarded as invisible braces.

When braces are fitted, they gradually move the misaligned teeth into the required position as the dentist progressively applies pressure on them at periodic intervals through attached arch wires. In place of stainless steel arch wires, modern arch wires are now made of nickel or copper-titanium, which applies less pressure on the teeth when adjusted, and so they cause less pain during adjustments. In addition, traditional stainless steel arch wires stretch and wear out, necessitating frequent replacement and tightening of the arch wires.  

In most cases, braces cause little discomfort when they are applied, although it may take a few days to get used to them. Some dentists may supply their patients with wax, which they can apply on the braces to prevent them from rubbing against the inner side of the mouth. Pain relief medications can be prescribed to alleviate soreness and swelling, if any of these develop.

High standard of oral hygiene is essential after braces are applied. Regular brushing and oral rinsing will help clean parts of the mouth in which braces may have trapped food, as this can cause the growth of bacteria, leading to tooth decay. It is advisable to limit sugary snacks and to avoid foods that would interfere with braces or accidentally cause the wires to bend. 

Most people wear braces for a period ranging between one and three years, depending on the individual's requirements. When the braces are removed, a retainer is worn where the braces were originally placed for at least a year to hold the teeth in place.