Braces for Teeth

The Straight Truth About Braces

Orthodontic dental work can straighten structural problems with an individual’s teeth. The resulting corrective process can take a few years or a matter of just a few months. As with any dental procedure, there are certain risks that should be discussed with your orthodontist.

Many people think that braces are only for the most serious of teeth-straightening cases. But there are cases where braces are put on a patient to correct much simpler problems.

Orthodontists have an additional two or three years of training after dental school to ensure that they are properly trained in straightening teeth and getting them to function properly. Because an orthodontist only practices orthodontia, he or she is more equipped to handle teeth-straightening issues than a general dentist.

While the vast majority of orthodontic patients are children, 20 percent of individuals with braces are adults. An adult can have orthodontic work done because of TMJ issues, an issue that has developed with an overbite or under bite or simply because a teeth-straightening issue was not corrected in his or her youth.

A patient may have a few days of soreness once braces are attached to his or her teeth, but after a few days the soreness subsides and the braces become second-nature. Although in extreme cases some youth can have braces on for five or six years – especially if the straightening effort doesn’t go as planned as the patient grows and shifts occur in the mouth – many orthodontic cases are closed within two years of starting treatment.

For patients who are self-conscious, steps are available to lessen the impact of braces. There are braces made of clear plastic that are nearly invisible when put on a patient. In some cases, an orthodontist can put braces on the back side of teeth to lessen their impact as well.

There are some risks with orthodontia work that your orthodontist should discuss with you prior to any treatment. Because brushing is more difficult with braces, food can be retained in and around the braces and plaque can develop. Brushing and flossing are of paramount importance for patients with braces to avoid tooth decay and color changes.

In some cases, patients have had an allergic reaction to the elastics used in the orthodontic procedures. Any patient who has an allergic reaction after the braces are put on should contact his or her orthodontist immediately.

Mouth sores are a continual risk with braces. Dental wax and oral rinses are common treatments for sores.

Individuals with braces are advised to wear a mouth guard when playing sports or in gym class. Physical contact or being hit in the mouth with a ball can cause serious damage to the patient’s braces, as well as his or her mouth.