Most of us know what it’s like to have braces at some point or other in our youth. It’s the time when you felt as if you were carrying a small garden fence around in your mouth. And although it is common practice when growing up, nicknames galore reined to describe your onetime miserable predicament:
- Magnet Mouth
- Cheese Grater
- Tin Grin
- Zipper Lips
- Food Processor
Just to name a few. And then, just when you thought yourself free of those pesky intruders, and you were all excited that D-Day for removal had arrived, the orthodontist said:
‘It all looks pretty good in your mouth, and now you have to were a retainer for the next two years to make extra sure.’
Nowadays, as grownups, the situation is half as bad. You may laugh at a joke about those ungainly brackets during a dinner with friends. Have you ever heard this joke:
‘What is Bill Clintons worst nightmare – an intern with braces.’
And as you laugh, your smile bedazzles the dinner table because as a boy or girl you sported a glittering set. Yep, you look great, and in hindsight, you are forever grateful to your parents for having had the urge to splurge some serious cash on your mouth aesthetics no matter having been subjected to the above sobriquets for two years.
Speaking of actors, in the movie ‘Minority Report’ Tom Cruise distracted not with a new liaison or his membership to Scientology, but with his choppers. Most of us have forgotten about this.
However, the paparazzi were astounded that he was wearing braces, making him the first star to ever show himself in public with such an aesthetic impediment.
Okay, he did it, but he’s a celebrity and can get away with it. The next thought that comes to mind is: What will I look like? Then, if you have kids, you might take a glimpse at your cherished offspring and decide – No way! You love him or her dearly but say: ‘I am a grownup and can’t look like that. They will make me look like Jaws in the movie ‘Moonraker.’’
But appearance is just one of the problems. More important is the fact that with a brace the jaw joint is burdened irregularly and with age your teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay. Your orthodontist will be able to clarify anything on that front.
However, you are still thinking about your appearance no matter that the medical professional just explained the following:
He or she is more concerned with regulating your teeth because the chewing function in the oral cavity is impaired. This deformation of the teeth can cause problems with the temporomandibular joint. If they do not stand correctly, they will be overburdened unevenly. As a result, some muscles are more stressed than others.
Being subjected to this permanently leads to tension in the head and neck area, which can cause severe headaches and even tinnitus. In extreme cases, the malposition also disturbs breathing. Possible consequences: greater susceptibility to colds.
Or if the teeth are too narrow or nested askew, nicks develop. The saliva no longer cleans the teeth there, and the toothbrush does not reach all angles. Persistent plaque and caries are formed, and possibly the gums are inflamed. Know which toothbrush is ideal for receding gum that way you can avoid them being inflamed.
But what about your self-esteem? Braces urgh! But if you no longer like to laugh, you should really think about going to the orthodontist no matter what you look like. Health before beauty, right? Remember the orthodontist’s remark about crooked teeth and their effect on your health?
Since older patients value an inconspicuous solution, they do not wear braces like children.
Orthodontists rely on tooth-colored wires and the brackets for adults, treatment with a fixed clasp on the back of the teeth, and correction through removable rails that are transparent.
Braces are so compelling that more and more adults are going for them to improve that smile. It makes sense because the teeth in your gums may look like they are set in stone, but actually, they are always on the move. And in some cases, this small oral migration can lead to quite an unpleasant bite.
Basically, orthodontic treatments are feasible at any age. Prerequisite is that the teeth are still firm enough anchored in the jawbone. Although the growth of the jaw is completed at the age of 18 and it can hardly form after that, but the regulation of the tooth position is not a problem well into old age.
However, as the jawbone solidifies and becomes more inflexible with age, adult treatment is more tedious than that of children. Treatment must be subtler. The jaw does not tolerate as much tension as when you were younger. On average, the procedure takes only two to three months longer.
Overall, the regulation usually covers a period of six months to three years. Nevertheless, the orthodontic measures are worthwhile even for adults, because complaints worsen because of an unfavorable tooth position with increasing age.
It is decision time; you look in the mirror and decide…
You no longer want to laugh behind closed doors? And, yeah, the Doc is right…a misaligned bite is no longer for you.
The regulation with a bracket system is particularly effective.
These fixed braces are usually given to adults with predominantly severe tooth misalignment. The orthodontist tapes the teeth with metal plates (brackets) and then connects them with an archwire.
The constant gentle pressure then moves the teeth slowly into the correct position. If the patient smiles the silver smile, the doctor can also use ceramic or plastic brackets for the anterior teeth.
However, they are less durable and more expensive.
The orthodontist also uses brackets for a lingual treatment. He sticks them on the teeth from the inside so that they are barely visible. However, the apparatus obstructs the tongue. This inconvenience can be compensated by prior practice with a speech track.
The lingual treatment is the solution for those of you who just want to have straight teeth but do not want to wear visible braces.
The doctor can also perform minor corrections with transparent rails. They are made of a thin see-through film and customized. A straightening of the teeth is done without wires. Depending on the findings, between ten and 80 tracks are needed for the regulation.
This corresponds to a treatment period of six months to two and a half years. The patient removes the splints only for brushing and eating.
Not sure which brush to use? Read: Best Electric Toothbrushes for Braces in 2018.
However, the transparent treatment method is not suitable for every malocclusion. In some cases, it has to be combined with conventional orthodontic treatment. However, therapy with transparent splints is much more expensive than a brace treatment. Also, the removable correction devices are more comfortable to clean than fixed braces.
Now, all of that might sound like quite the torture for the most of you, but what happens in the mouth.
The essential element is the archwire; the elasticity is used to get the teeth in the right position. It is the part of the brace that connects at the front or the back of the teeth attaching the brackets.
…and it works like this:
If you take a piece of wire in your hand and bend it a little, you notice that there is tension on your hands, which is precisely the force that is used in the fixed braces.
An optimal dental arch has a U-shape. When you glue braces to such a denture and use the optimal archwire, no deformation would occur, and the archwire would not bend.
However, if one does not have an optimal dental arch, that is a malocclusion, the arc bends in the direction of the optimal shape and presses the teeth in the desired direction.
At the beginning of treatment, i.e., when the misalignment is still significant, and consequently the arch-wire again deviates relatively much from its ideal shape, the most elastic and softest wires are used.
Often they are fabricated to increase the elasticity of several twisted thinner strands so that the restoring forces of the archwire do not work so strongly. The further the treatment progresses, the stronger and less elastic wires will be used. To be able to correct even minimal deviations at the end, a relatively hard wire comes to play, since the teeth already have almost the optimal U-shape.
First, all teeth need to be bracketed. For this, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned and then glued to the brackets directly with special adhesives.
The wires used in fixed braces have the shape of an ideal dental arch. Such a wire is attached with small rubber rings, the so-called O-rings or very fine wires, the ‘Ligatures’ on the bracket.
However, the stainless steel wires are very elastic and have high restorative properties as the wire tries to return to its original shape. The forces that are generated are transmitted to the tooth via the brackets and then moving it in the direction of the optimal dental arch.
Due to the stable connection between bracket and wire, a tooth can, in principle, be moved in any direction. With the fixed braces, the orthodontist has such a powerful tool at his disposal, and it can treat even severe and complicated malocclusions.
These thingamajigs are made individually after an impression of the shape of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Clips and correction elements are attached to a plastic base and clamped to the teeth when inserted. Talking can be difficult for some, but the teeth can be cleaned better than with fixed braces.
Removable clips must be regularly checked and readjusted. This is also possible at home with a small key. If the device does not fit properly, it can cause pain or gets damaged. In this case, contact the orthodontist. The clasp (technically also referred to as the active plate) should be cleaned every day with a toothbrush and toothpaste or with cleaning tablets.
When or when not to use a fixed or a loose clasp is not set in stone. Important aspects of the decision are the nature and severity of the anomaly of the teeth, your age and the number of permanent teeth present, as well as your willingness to cooperate and commit to oral hygiene.
Fixed braces are used mainly in the permanent dentition for correction, for example, when there is a lot of crowding or when teeth need to be turned or moved over longer distances.
For example, removable braces may be used to broaden dental arches, correct a large anteroposterior space, or advance the mandible using growth. There is no scientifically proven guideline for this.
All in all, it is a voyage worth taking when you and your orthodontist agree that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. In some cases, it may only be an optical issue. Ultimately, today’s technology has come so far that it should be a breeze.