Welcome to Braces

An orthodontist can outfit patients with a few different kinds of braces. Some are made of lightweight metal and go around each tooth, while other metal ones are attached to the outside surfaces of the teeth with special glue. Clear braces can be attached to the outside surfaces of the teeth, as can ceramic ones that are the same color as teeth. Some patients can get newer "mini-braces," which are much smaller, or "invisible braces," which are affixed to the inside surfaces of the teeth. In many cases, patients can choose which kind they want.

Types of Braces

An orthodontist can outfit patients with a few different kinds of braces. Some are made of lightweight metal and go around each tooth, while other metal ones are attached to the outside surfaces of the teeth with special glue. Clear braces can be attached to the outside surfaces of the teeth, as can ceramic ones that are the same color as teeth. Some patients can get newer "mini-braces,"which are much smaller, or"invisible braces," which are affixed to the inside surfaces of the teeth. In many cases, patients can choose which kind they want.

A recent addition to treatment options, brace less orthodontics, uses a series of clear removable appliances that are custom made and worn for specified amounts of time. These appliances exert pressure on the mal positioned teeth and move them gradually into their correct position. How long each appliance in the series must be worn depends on the individual treatment plan the dentist or orthodontist creates. These appliances and the treatment plan are computer generated from the models of the teeth taken. Your dentist or orthodontist must decide if you are a candidate for this type of treatment since it is not right for everyone.

Correcting the position of the teeth often takes anywhere from 6 months to 2 or 3 years with any of the methods. With braces, after the amount of time needed for correction has been established for the patient, the orthodontist must work on the other part of the treatment: making sure the braces exert steady pressure. To achieve this, the patient must come for regular visits, usually once a month or so. During the visits, the orthodontist attaches wires, springs, or rubber bands to the braces in order to create more tension and pressure on the teeth. Sometimes the rubber bands will connect certain teeth to one another to create a kind of opposing tension. With some teens, the orthodontist may decide that extra tension is needed outside the mouth if braces alone aren't enough to straighten the teeth or shift the jaw. In such cases, a patient may need to wear head or neck gear with wires that attach inside the mouth and elastic that attaches the gear to the head. Many times, someone will only need to wear this type of gear while sleeping or in the evening, while at home.

It may take a while, but with the right combination and timing of wires, springs, rubber bands, and sometimes head gear, the teeth will slowly but surely move into their correct positions. Some of the adjustments can make your mouth feel a bit sore or uncomfortable because the tension tends to make itself felt in more places than your teeth. Most of the time, taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve the pain. If you always have a lot of pain after your braces are adjusted, talk to your orthodontist about it; he or she may able to make the adjustments a bit differently.