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Whether we like it or not, uneven teeth do not make for that perfect smile that we all look to flash when putting our best foot forward. A set of neatly arranged pearly whites is something we all desire. Dental braces are used by orthodontists to help align and straighten your teeth and position them with regard to your bite.
Orthodontists are dentists who have specialized in treating jaw and teeth misalignment. There are a number of reasons for which a child may need braces:
Often, these problems are inherited, but sometimes they may be caused due to accidents, thumb-sucking or losing baby teeth too soon.
So when to get the braces?
During the regular dental visits, the dentist may recommend the child to an Orthodontist, if he feels there is a need for braces and realigning the teeth. Most orthodontists recommend seeing the orthodontist for an evaluation at around the age of 7, as at this age, the permanent teeth start growing.
The ideal age recommended to get braces is between 8-14 years, when majority permanent teeth have grown in. Also, at this age the head and mouth are still growing and the teeth are more receptive to straightening, which makes the treatment easier. However, adults can get braces for minor corrections or to improve their smile.
Some orthodontists recommend a two phase approach known as an interceptive approach. The first phase involves the use of dental appliances which are not braces, at an early age while baby teeth are still present. In the second phase, when the child has an adult set of teeth, actual braces are used for further treatment. The second phase is believed to be shorter than the conventional use of braces but it can be more expensive.
What happens at the first visit?
The orthodontist will closely examine the teeth, mouth and jaw and may take X-rays to help him understand the locations of the teeth. He may even make an impression of the teeth. For this, a gooey material will be pressed over the upper and lower teeth, which is removed and later hardens to give a replica of the teeth and mouth structures. This helps the orthodontist to devise the best treatment options as per the requirement.
What is the treatment approach?
Most commonly used braces consist of brackets, wires and rubber bands. The brackets are attached to the teeth and are connected to each other with the help of wires and rubber bands. These wires will be tightened a little at every visit to slowly align the teeth as desired. One or two teeth maybe removed to create more space. Metal braces are still used, but now clear or white ceramic braces are more popular as they are less noticeable.
Treatment duration is dependent on the extent of the problem. On an average, up to 2 years of treatment is needed. After the treatment, you may have to wear a removable plastic device called as a retainer. Retainers are made of plastic and have wires attached shaped like a mouth guard. Such retainers help to keep the teeth in place and not let them wander away, in case the mouth is still growing.
So talk to your orthodontist about your concerns and what is the best possible time to set right your teeth based on your specific needs.
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